A six-year study conducted by independent charity the UK Drug Policy Commission has concluded that drugs law needs 'wholesale review', reports The Daily Telegraph.
The study was conducted by Professor Peter Reuter of the University of Maryland in the USA and Alex Stevens of the University of Kent and was designed to assess the evidence relating to the UK drug problem and the impact of current UK drug policies.
Its conclusions present the Government with the clearest evidence yet that the current UK drug policy, and that of other countries studied, is largely ineffective and has little bearing on the number of people who use drugs or the number of those that go on to become dependent.
However, the report also concluded that drug policy and laws have an important role to play in reducing the harms caused by drugs and their medical and social effects.
The report likens some 'lighter' drug abuse to selfish behaviour like gambling or eating junk food. It concludes that a small amount of drug abuse should be treated as a civil offence, thus freeing light users from the stigma of a criminal conviction and record, which it argues is counterproductive in promoting responsible behaviour.
The UK Government spends some £3bn on drug enforcement initiatives each year, which the UK Drug Policy Commission identifies as being spent on non-evidence based enforcement.
"Seeing all drug use as invariably problematic can reduce the cost-effectiveness of policy," the report concludes.
However, it stops short of advocating complete decriminalisation, saying that there is no evidence that doing this would improve the overall situation, especially regarding the major production and supply of drugs.
The rapid manufacture of new substances and the ability of producers to market new substances on the internet was a phenomenon that current drug laws were struggling to control, the report found.
The Home Office said it welcomed the report but added that it believed its policies on drugs were correct.
Light drug users 'should not get criminal records' (The Telegraph)