British MPs want heroin, cocaine to be decriminalised
London: The possession and use of heroin, ecstasy and crack cocaine should be decriminalised, a group of British lawmakers has said.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform said giving criminal records to young drug users creates "higher levels of unemployment, homelessness and relationship problems", the Daily Mail reported.
"Banning drug use does not materially affect the overall level of demand for drugs," it said.
"Drug policies which criminalise young people generate higher levels of unemployment, homelessness and relationship problems, and cost the taxpayer considerable sums."
The study calls for licences to be issued to allow drug dealers to sell so-called "legal highs" that have flooded on to the market in recent years.
Dealers would have to show that the substances carried only an "agreed low risk of harm".
In return, they would be given licences and regulated by council trading standards officers rather than the police.
Numerous reports have raised concerns about drugs policy over the years.
Under existing British laws, drug users caught with heroin, cocaine or ecstasy face a maximum sentence of seven years in jail, along with a criminal record.
Decriminalising drug use would relegate it to the status of a minor driving offence.
Taking drugs would remain illegal, but users would escape with a fine, confiscation and "crucially" no criminal record, the daily said.
Britain's most senior drugs police officer said arresting drug users was often pointless.
Chief Constable Tim Hollis, the lead drugs spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said there was little merit in outlawing so-called legal highs because police forces lack the resources to combat new drugs.