A lot of people think being tough on drugs is the only way to combat the use of drugs that society is plagued by today. I have never had this thought. Whilst at the age of 31 I have never tried – nor had any desire – to try out illegal substances, I think those that do should be helped to get over their problems should their drug use consume them.
Nick Clegg has spoken about this today and has indicated that the party want to end imprisonment for those who are caught with drugs for their own personal use and instead get them medical treatment to get over their drug addiction.
Speaking on the Lib Dem website, Nick Clegg said:
“We are never going to win a ‘war on drugs’. Illegal drugs still cause immense harm to the people who use them and to the communities they live in. We need a radically smarter approach if we are serious about tackling this problem.
“Liberal Democrats believe the first step to ending the war is to recognise that drug use is primarily a health problem. Addicts need treatment, not locking up. And it is a nonsense to waste scare resources on prison cells for cannabis users.
“That’s why we will commit to ensuring that nobody in future will go to prison where their only offence is possession of drugs for their own personal use.
“Instead these people should receive non-custodial sentences, and addicts should get the treatment they need to stop using drugs.
“In the longer term we will develop a more effective approach that frees up resources currently spent on prosecuting users, and reinvests that money in treatment and in the fight against organised crime.
“Liberal Democrats believe in a stronger economy and a fairer society. These liberal reforms will ensure that drug users get the help they need and that taxpayers don’t foot the bill for a system that doesn’t work.”
In short, it is a new grown-up approach to drug issues and one I stand up and applaud. As a society, many people think that punishment is more important than dealing with the cause of the problem. People going to jail are only going to spend time with more criminals and therefore find it much easier to get on to more hardcore drugs and come out of prison less prepared to become a productive member of society.
Drug use is a health problem. That is clearly what it is first and foremost. You don’t punish those caught up in it if you can help them first. Those who are addicted to drugs can turn their lives around and shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves. We all need a helping hand in life from time-to-time and getting over addiction, whether it be drugs, alcohol, gambling or anything else is something people both want to do but they also need someone to help them.
This has been one of the best things Nick Clegg has said in a very, very long time. Rehabilitation is just as important as punishment for criminals and when you can help small-level criminals with drug issues, to a) help them get their lives back on track but also b) will long-term ensure their drug problem doesn’t get worse meaning they are less of an effective member of society and in turn more of a danger to others then it is something that we should do.
Drug use is a big issue and being tough on drug users has not really helped, so it is time to take a different approach and this is personally one that I’m very much in favour of.
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