The drug debate was brought to the forefront again recently by none other than former Conservative party leader William Hague.
With much in the news recently about the possible therapeutic use of cannabis extracts, it is easy to confuse the legalisation of drugs for recreational and therapeutic use.
The recent decision by the home secretary, Sajid Javid, to relax the rules around cannabis prescribing from this autumn, will no doubt be welcomed by the families of children who have medical conditions seemingly much improved by cannabis extracts.
This should though not detract from the fact that if there is a potential for cannabinoids to be used therapeutically, which it would seem anecdotally there may be, then proper clinical trials need to be run and cannabis needs to be treated exactly the same way as any other drug in a clinical trial.
Having worked as a prison doctor, my opinion is we need to decriminalise all currently illegal drugs
We must get away from the idea that cannabis is a ‘naughty’ drug. After all opioids, of which heroin is an example, are some of the most commonly used pain killers.
As for recreational drugs being illegal, having worked as a prison doctor, my opinion is we need to decriminalise all currently illegal drugs. The state can then control the quantity and quality of drugs available, put criminal gangs out of business and raise revenue by taxing them.
The prison system is not only useless at preventing drug related crimes, in many cases it probably makes the situation much worse. Drug dealers do not stop plying their trade just because they are behind bars. The demand for their product is even greater in prison and the price they can charge higher than on the outside. Only those who read certain newspapers and have never worked in the criminal justice system could possibly think locking people up for drug offences is ever going to improve the problem of illegal substance abuse.
With wealthy democratic countries like Canada choosing to legalise cannabis, it is only a matter of time before currently illegal drugs are decriminalised in the UK. So why not be proactive and get ahead of the game? Drugs are big illegal business at the moment and when legalised will be big profitable legal business both for recreational and medicinal use. Someone is going to make a lot of money from this so why not UK businesses and the government?
For once it is not just an awkward, contrary old git like myself suggesting this, but a true-blue Tory – maybe there is hope of a change for the better?
Dr David Turner is a GP in north-west London