By Ilya Somin
A British panel composed of leading members of Parliament and former public officials has concluded that the War on Drugs is a failure and should be abandoned. The panel includes former heads of MI5 (the British domestic intelligence agency) and the Crown Prosecution Service, as well as leading Conservatives, including prominent former members of Margaret Thatcher’s government. Here’s a report by the conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph:
The “war on drugs” has failed and should be abandoned in favour of evidence-based policies that treat addiction as a health problem, according to prominent public figures including former heads of MI5 and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Leading peers – including prominent Tories – say that despite governments worldwide drawing up tough laws against dealers and users over the past 50 years, illegal drugs have become more accessible.
Vast amounts of money have been wasted on unsuccessful crackdowns, while criminals have made fortunes importing drugs into this country.
The increasing use of the most harmful drugs such as heroin has also led to “enormous health problems”, according to the group....
It could lead to calls for the British government to decriminalise drugs, or at least for the police and Crown Prosecution Service not to jail people for possession of small amounts of banned substances.
Their intervention could receive a sympathetic audience in Whitehall, where ministers and civil servants are trying to cut the numbers and cost of the prison population....
The chairman of the new group, Baroness Meacher.... told The Daily Telegraph: “Criminalising drug users has been an expensive catastrophe for individuals and communities....”
Lord Lawson, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1983 and 1989 [under Margaret Thatcher], said: “I have no doubt that the present policy is a disaster....”
In the United States, the opposition of political conservatives is still perhaps the most important obstacle to efforts to cut back on the War on Drugs. Hopefully, this reconsideration by some of their British counterparts will lead more American conservatives follow the example of William F. Buckley and Pat Robertson, both of whom gradually came to realize that the War on Drugs causes enormous harm, and is bad for family values.