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Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 3,372
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UK: Decriminalise personal drug use, suggests chairman of the Bar Council
    #452783 - 07/29/10 09:06 AM (6 years, 8 months ago)

Christopher Hope

The Telegraph

Personal drug use should be legalised, the leader of the country’s barristers has suggested.

Nicholas Green QC, the chairman of the Bar Council for England and Wales, said it was "rational" to consider "decriminalising personal drug use".

Taking such a step would save the economy billions of pounds – drug-related crime costs the economy £13billion a year - free up police time, cut crime and improve public health.

However campaigners and MPs rounded on the remarks, made in a newsletter to barristers, saying it sent out the wrong message on drug use.

Mr Green, who runs body which the 4,500 criminal and defence barristers, said: "A growing body of comparative evidence suggests that decriminalising personal use can have positive consequences.

"It can free up huge amounts of police resources, reduce crime and recidivism and improve public health. All this can be achieved without any overall increase in drug usage. If this is so, then it would be rational to follow suit."

Mr Green, who has made his name primarily as an expert in competition law and arbitration issues, said the Council was apolitical and could speak out in favour policies “which work and not those which simply play to the gallery.

"And this will save money and mean that there is less pressure on the justice system."

In the paper which looked at how money coul d be saved in the criminal justice system, Mr Green also spoke out in favour of Ken Clarke, the Justice secretary, who has signalled that fewer criminals should be sent to prison.

He said: "If the prison population could be reduced from circa 85,000 to 80,000 it could save over £200million per annum.

"There is a great deal of research from elsewhere to suggest that a less "bang 'em up" approach to sentencing actually reduces crime.

"The tabloids' response, which is to throw more people into custody, simply does not work."

The maximum sentence for using a Class A drug – like heroin, cocaine and ecstasy – is seven years in jail. For lesser Class B drugs - like cannabis - and Class C drugs, the maximum penalties are five years and two years in prison.

Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Commons' Home Affairs Committee, said: "I am shocked by the suggestion that drugs should be decriminalised for personal use.

"The legalisation of drugs would simply create the mistaken impression that these substances are not harmful, when in fact this is far from the truth."

"The answer to the issue of drug abuse is not to merely decriminalise it. This is not the best solution for the wider public or the police."

James Clappison MP, a former member of the Commons' Home Affairs Committee, said the remarks were "not entirely a helpful contribution to the debate".

He said: "There seems to be a very strong link between recreational drug use, leading to drug addiction leading to crime fuelled by drug addiction. I would have thought the chairman of the Bar Council would have seen that for himself."

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, added: "It is a ludicrous argument to say let's legalise drugs to take pressure off the police and the courts. That is an argument to legalise everything."

Debra Bell, a mother whose son developed severe personality changes after smoking cannabis from the age of 14 with his friends, said: "What is he talking about? This will send out the wrong message to youngsters.

"There are children as young as 10 getting involved in drug use. Recreational drugs are addictive – that is why there are controlled."

Ms Bell, who now runs the "Talking About Cannabis" advice website, added: "For some adults it might not be a problem, but that is not the case for children and adolescents. It divides families."

A spokesman the Bar Council said: "We have not called for the decriminalisation of drugs. Plainly we are recommending an evidence-based approach."

A Home Office spokesman said: "As set out in the coalition agreement, we want to ensure that getting off drugs for good is a clear goal of drug treatment.

"We will also review sentencing policy to help offenders come off drugs, explore alternative forms of secure, treatment-based accommodation for drug offenders, launch a rehabilitation revolution to break cycles of drug misuse and introduce a system of temporary bans on new legal highs."





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Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 55
Loc: Flag
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Re: UK: Decriminalise personal drug use, suggests chairman of the Bar Council [Re: Shaggy420]
    #453089 - 07/30/10 11:50 AM (6 years, 8 months ago)

Need more people like this in politics!
Ironic surname as well

"When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself" Bob Marley.

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Registered: 07/06/10
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Last seen: 5 years, 2 months
Re: UK: Decriminalise personal drug use, suggests chairman of the Bar Council [Re: Herbsman]
    #453099 - 07/30/10 11:59 AM (6 years, 8 months ago)

:awesomenod: green, never noticed that.:highfive:




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Hapi sky fire

Registered: 07/02/08
Posts: 479
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Re: UK: Decriminalise personal drug use, suggests chairman of the Bar Council [Re: Shaggy420]
    #453365 - 07/31/10 01:38 AM (6 years, 8 months ago)

itd be rational to let supply and demand work itself out too....

Things to do while running

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