Criminal Law | Government Split Over Drug Laws

Days after Prime Minister David Cameron rejected calls for a Royal Commission on drugs, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for a review and says that Mr Cameron must show courage over the issue, as he believes that the UK is losing the war on drugs “on an industrial scale”.

In an interview with The Sun, Mr Clegg said: “If you were waging any other war where you have 2,000 fatalities a year, your enemies are making billions in profit, constantly throwing new weapons at you and targeting more young people, you’d have to say you are losing and it’s time to do something different.”

Citing the example of Portugal, where all drugs have been decriminalised, Mr Clegg argued that far from being soft on drugs, he just wants to examine the evidence and not join what he calls the “conspiracy of silence” perpetrated by politicians who find the whole drugs debate “too controversial”.

The Liberal Democrats voted last year to establish a panel to consider decriminalising the use of all drugs and Mr Clegg has now confirmed that, although the Home Office says there is no need to review the country’s drug laws, he will be sending Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne, who is the Drugs Minister, on a fact-finding mission to countries that have experimented with decriminalisation and legalisation.

Although Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron are in opposition over a review, at least one senior Conservative politician agrees with the Deputy Prime Minister. Nick de Bois of the influential 1922 Committee said last week that Mr Clegg was right to want to look at what the government is doing but disagrees on the need for a Royal Commission.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London