UK

Decriminalising drugs: Voices

The idea of a royal commission to consider decriminalising illegal drugs - as suggested by a group of MPs - has been ruled out by the prime minister.

A committee of MPs had highlighted Portugal's approach, where people found with drugs are not always prosecuted.

Here people with differing experiences of drug use share their views on drug decriminalisation.

Greg, London

I feel passionately about the subject of the legal status of cannabis in the UK.

I use it once or twice times a week. I firmly believe the current laws are causing more harm than good. Current laws mean there is more funding for crime and they allow the substance to be regulated by criminals. They restrict my fundamental human right to make choices and stall worthwhile medical research.

If cannabis was decriminalised then it could be regulated. That would mean I would actually know what I'm smoking. I would pay tax rather than the money going to criminal gangs.

I don't think more people would start smoking it if it was legal - because I really don't think its illegality has ever put anyone off. It's currently readily available everywhere in the country - which is actually a problem because kids can get hold of it.

I'm a nice guy, but because I smoke at the weekend with friends I'm technically a criminal. It means that politicians don't understand my type of person, so in return I don't trust them.

Bill Stevens, Manchester

Legalise cannabis and you legalise drug-induced mental health issues.

Families around the world know the nightmare of a young person who develops mental health issues as a direct result of too much drug use. Legal or not legal, some people just cannot handle - or stop at - recreational drug use.

I work with families of people with drug or alcohol problems so I am exposed to this in my work more than most.

I am not against the fun and recreational or medicinal relationship with drugs.

However, please do not turn a blind eye to those who will be victims of this legislation.

If you legalise drug use you could see more people taking up drugs. There is no way of knowing if it will by your nephew, son or neighbour who will be one of the few who develop serious problems.

Paranoia, psychosis or schizophrenia are very difficult to treat in young people. This is made all the harder when the young person has been using drugs from their late teens into their early 20s and still live with parents.

They have been stoned through the normal emotional and mental maturing process. They find they are scared and aggressive, and totally dependent on friends and families to look after them.

D D Ruby, London

Decriminalisation may work better for some drugs than for others. The problem is that people who are using drugs are also often dealing - so where do we draw the line?

I lived for many years next to a crack-house. I think the effect that drug use has on local communities is hugely underestimated and largely undocumented.

This is especially the case with hard drugs like crack cocaine. From sleep deprivation to a general fear of violence, those of us living close to dealers and users see our quality of life decline to a point where it's nearly impossible to function properly on a daily basis.

The wider community suffers as does the general population as a whole.

From my experience some local dealers seem to be on a continuous cycle within the social housing system where they are housed, evicted, supposedly rehabilitated then once again rehoused when local policing and legal systems fail once again.

All this leaves local communities disheartened and in a continuous cycle of neglect where they themselves are treated like the criminals.

This is especially true and especially devastating in some of London's most deprived areas where mismanagement perpetuates the cycle of abuse and criminality.

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