Vote To Legalise Drugs Defies Lib Dem Leader 

Vote To Legalise Drugs Defies Lib Dem Leader 
Posted by FoM on March 10, 2002 at 09:49:20 PT
By Gaby Hinsliff, Chief Political Correspondent
Source: Observer UK
Cannabis would be legalised and the possession of hard drugs such as cocaine effectively decriminalised under reforms backed by the Liberal Democrats yesterday. In a setback for party leader Charles Kennedy, who had wanted a more modest shakeup, the party's spring conference voted for the most radical package of drug law reforms ever supported by mainstream British politicians. 
Cannabis would be sold in shops as openly and legally as cigarettes, while being caught with small amounts of any illegal drug for personal use - even Class A substances such as heroin and cocaine - would no longer lead to a jail sentence, under the measures which have now become official Liberal Democrat policy. The measures - which will reopen passionate debate over Britain's drugs laws - had been condemned by anti-drugs campaigners who warned they would only encourage addiction. And they leave Kennedy facing an awkward dilemma as he tries to woo socially conservative former Tory voters. Senior Lib Dems insisted they were reflecting a trend across Europe recognising that outright prohibition had not worked. 'This was an important debate about a difficult issue which the Liberal Democrats have had the courage to consider in a thoughtful and constructive way,' Kennedy said in a statement last night. 'The party has decided that the criminal law should concentrate on the dealers, traffickers and exploiters of drugs rather than the users who need help and treatment.' The statement carefully avoided welcoming the conference decision however, and privately insiders said the most radical ideas were unlikely to survive into Kennedy's next manifesto. The leadership's own policy group had put forward a more limited set of reforms which would have decriminalised cannabis, turned ecstasy into a more lightly-regulated Class B instead of Class A drug, but ensured that possession of hard drugs remained an imprisonable offence. Simon Hughes, the party's home affairs spokesman, said the vote was 'not a rush of blood to the head' but came after carefully weighing the evidence on for two years. 'My experience is that people who have had the tragedy of drugs come into their lives know that the current law doesn't work and they want another alternative,' he said. The motion before the conference in Manchester accepts that legalisation will not be possible until the UN convention on drug trafficking - which Britain has signed, and which prohibits complete legalisation of marijuana - has been renegotiated, making it a long-term aim. Delegates backed wider powers for doctors to prescribe heroin to addicts as part of a treatment programme. The Lib Dems will today vote on an emergency motion opposing British involvement in US strikes against Iraq. The motion calls on the British Government 'to oppose in the current circumstances any new aggressive military actions proposed by the United States against Iraq.' Source: Observer, The (UK)Author: Gaby Hinsliff, Chief Political CorrespondentPublished: March 10, 2002Copyright: 2002 The ObserverContact: letters The Beatles To Brixton, a Long, Strange Trip Dems Vote To Legalise Cannabis Cannabis Legal Now 
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Comment #3 posted by Dean on March 10, 2002 at 19:13:36 PT:
yes to legalise
Ithink they should legalise cannabis 
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Comment #2 posted by cltrldmg on March 10, 2002 at 14:44:27 PT
they're right to want to go further
It's interesting that the delegates actually went further than anyone had expected by wanting to decriminalise and regulate all drugs, not just marijuana. I don't think MJ is really an important issue, other than it being a first step towards decriminalising hard drugs, which cause 90% of the crime and health problems from the WoD.
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Comment #1 posted by Jose Melendez on March 10, 2002 at 12:25:28 PT:
wage drug peace
If "legalizing drugs ... sends a dangerous message to our children and our communities," as Hiltz insists, what
    message is transmitted by insistence on following a doctrine that simply does not work and never did? 
    Peter Webster Review Editor International Journal of Drug Policy Auvare, France 
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