Pubdate: Tue, 23 Jun 2015
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 2015 Associated Newspapers Ltd
Authors: James Slack and Tamara Cohen


POSSESSION of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine, would be 
decriminalised under radical plans tabled by the Liberal Democrats today.

The party's push, led by ex-police chief Brian Paddick, will attempt 
to ambush a Government Bill to ban the sale of legal highs when it is 
debated by the Lords.

Under their proposals, nobody would be arrested or prosecuted for 
possession of drugs - even the hardest Class A substances.

Instead, police 'may' ask the offender to attend a drug awareness 
course or treatment programme.

In total, the Lib Dems have tabled more than ten amendments to the 
Government's Psychoactive Substances Bill.

Another calls for cannabis to be legalised for medicinal use, so it 
can be prescribed by a doctor.

The amendment is the official position of Lib Dem HQ, which issued a 
press release promoting the proposal last night.

The ex-Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner is one of the 
party's designated spokesmen on home affairs in the upper chamber. 
During his time as a senior officer, Lord Paddick oversaw a 
'disastrous' experiment where people caught with small amounts of 
cannabis in Brixton were not normally arrested.

According to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the trial 
- - which ran from 2001 to 2003  led to a rise of 40 to 100 per cent in 
the numbers of men admitted to hospital due to their use of harder drugs.

Kathy Gyngell, of the Centre for Policy Studies, described the latest 
plan to decriminalise heroin as 'bewildering'.

The drugs campaigner said: 'The evidence of Brian Paddick's own 
disastrous experiment in Brixton shows just how dangerous and 
irresponsible this approach is.'

While the Lib Dems were decimated at the General Election and have 
just eight MPs, they retain 102 party appointees in the House of 
Lords where they plan to scupper the Government's programme. The 
Tories  who have 228 peers  are in a minority in the Lords for the 
first time since 1997. Last night they issued a strong two-line whip 
and feared a vote on the issue might be close.

While it is understood that Labour will tell their 212 peers to 
abstain, some Labour backbenchers and a number of the 178 
crossbenchers might vote for the proposal.

Government insiders said the idea was 'bonkers' and would be fiercely resisted.

But Lord Paddick defended the plan, saying: 'When I was a police 
officer, I realised that locking up drug users is simply not the answer.

Decriminalising personal possession will free up vital police 
resources to go after drug dealers, ensure addicts get treatment and 
social users get the education they need to keep them safe.'

Under the new Bill, it will become illegal to import, produce, sell 
or offer to sell what were formerly known as 'legal highs'. The 
maximum sentence will be seven years in prison.

As well as new synthetic drugs, the legislation will cover the sale 
of 'psychoactive' substances, including nitrous oxide and the party 
drug 'poppers'.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom