UK Doctors demand legalization of heroin & cocaine in hopes more will seek treatment without fear of

Doctor’s leaders have called for heroin, cocaine and cannabis to be legalized – claiming the threat of jail is stopping addicts from seeking help. The Royal College of Physicians, which represents 26,000 medics in the UK, says the criminal justice system fails to serve junkies’ best interests. It believes users should not be punished but given “timely” care and support instead.

Some 14,053 people in England were admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of drug poisoning in 2016/17 – up 40 per cent in a decade. And there was a record 2,593 deaths from drugs misuse in England and Wales in 2016. The RCP says responsibility for drug policy should be moved from the Home Office to the Department of Health. And it wants more investment in drug prevention and treatment.

Jane Dacre, president of the RCP, said: “The criminal justice system is not the place to address the often complex needs of people addicted to drugs. “We are committed to ensuring that all people who need to do so are able to access timely and appropriate prevention and care services.” The RCP adopted the policy at a meeting of its general council. They gave their backing to a controversial Royal Society of Public Health report published in 2016, which claimed the “war on drugs” is failing.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of RSPH, said she was “delighted” with the RCP’s support and called on other medical colleges to follow their lead. She added: “There is a growing consensus among the health community and among the public that criminal justice approaches to drug harm have failed. “We must start treating drugs first and foremost as a health issue.”

Drug use and possession would be legalized under the proposals but dealing would remain a crime. One in 12 adults – about 2.8million people – admitted to taking illegal drugs in 2015/16, risking a maximum seven years in jail and unlimited fine. The National Union of Students yesterday said its members should not be reported to police if caught with drugs at university to stop users being “marginalized”.

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