Liberal Democrats promise to decriminalise the possession of illegal drugs

LONDON — The possession of illegal drugs would cease to be an imprisonable offence in the UK under manifesto proposals by the Liberal Democrats.

Under current laws, possession of Class A drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy and heroin, can result in up to seven years in prison.

However, the Lib Dems, who released their full manifesto on Wednesday, are calling for the effective decriminalisation of all illegal drugs, with cannabis being fully legalised.

The Lib Dem manifesto promises to:

  • End imprisonment for possession of illegal drugs for personal use
  • Divert those arrested for possession of drugs for personal use into treatment and education, or imposing civil penalties.
  • Introduce a legal, regulated market for cannabis.
  • Introduce legal limits on potency and permit cannabis to be sold through licensed outlets to adults over the age of 18.
  • Concentrate instead on catching and prosecuting those who manufacture, import or deal in illegal drugs.

Around 15% of all prison inmates have been found guilty of drug offences — the second highest group after violent offenders according to the government’s own figures.

Prison reform campaigners believe that prison overcrowding is at crisis levels. The number of violent incidents in prisons more than doubled in the three years to 2015, with record numbers of prisoners dying behind bars according to statistics compiled by the Prison Reform Trust

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