UK Out of Step as EU Takes New Approach to Problem

UK Out of Step as EU Takes New Approach to Problem
Posted by FoM on February 16, 2000 at 23:11:06 PT
By Alan Travis, Drugs in Britain: Special Report
Source: News Unlimited
Europe is shifting towards the decriminalisation of the possession of drugs for personal use, according to an official report on drug policies across the continent. The annual report of the EU's monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction said that while most member states rejected extreme solutions such as full legalisation or harsh repression, there was increasing recognition that the prosecution and imprisonment of individuals with drug problems caused even greater difficulties. 
The report revealed that the hardline UK policy of continuing to criminalise all those arrested for cannabis possession was beginning to look like an old-fashioned stance. But it added that while the trend in many states was to reduce the emphasis on prosecuting and imprisoning drug users, the number of people arrested for drug possession offences was increasing across Europe. The report said that this contradiction suggested some need for "fine-tuning theory and practice within the criminal justice system". Although most states continued to ban illicit drug use, the report from the Lisbon-based institute said there had been ashift to liberalise the penalties or administrative measures used to enforce it. At the same time "harm reduction" policies such as needle exchanges, providing injection rooms or even prescribing heroin, were becoming mainstream policy in the EU. The traditional distinctions between illegal drugs such as cannabis and cocaine and legal recreational substances such as tobacco and alcohol were also being blurred. In France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria the government agencies that provided treatment and prevention programmes involving illegal drugs now also dealt with tobacco and alcohol. In Germany the term "addiction prevention" was used rather than "drug prevention" so as to emphasise the danger of addictive substances regardless of their legal status. The report said Portugal was considering decriminalising the illicit consumption and possession of drugs for personal use as part of reform of its drug laws. In Belgium the occasional cannabis user, if arrested, would find nothing more happened than that the drugs were confiscated and a police report filed. It was a pattern being repeated across much of the EU. Nevertheless the report said that arrests for drug-related offences had been steadily increasing since the mid-1980s. This might partly reflect the increasing use of illicit drugs. The EU estimated that 40m people had used cannabis in the 15 member states. The survey said problem drug use was lowest in Germany, Austria, Finland and Sweden and highest in Italy, Luxembourg and the UK. Published: Thursday February 17, 2000 Guardian Unlimited  Guardian Newspapers Limited 2000 Related Articles:Cannabis Goes for Ecstasy Law on Ecstasy, Says Police Inquiry Force Urges Legalisation Articles On The UK & Ecstasy: 
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on February 17, 2000 at 15:19:39 PT
40 Million there, 70 Million here
Quite a voting bloc, wouldn't you say? The only question is, how long will we be willing to accept second class citizenship in our own countries?
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