A controversial new report has said the legalisation of drugs would not lead to increased usage, and may even have some benefits. The study from the Home Office is said to have been heavily influenced by the Liberal Democrats, much to the anger of Conservatives.
The report claimed that legalising drugs, even class A substances, would bring benefits to the criminal justice system. Its release is said to have sparked a major row between the Home Secretary Theresa May and her Liberal Democrat junior minister Norman Baker.
May was so concerned about being seen as soft on drugs that she ordered the Home Office to immediately rule-out legalisation. The report has also overshadowed the announcement that legal highs will be banned.
The report said: “There are indications that decriminalisation can reduce the burden on criminal justice systems. It is not clear that decriminalisation has an impact on levels of drug use.
“The disparity in drug use trends and criminal justice statistics between countries with similar approaches, and the lack of any clear correlation between the ‘toughness’ of an approach and levels of drug use demonstrates the complexity of the issue.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “This government has absolutely no intention of decriminalising drugs… Our drugs strategy is working and there is a long-term downward trend in drug misuse in the UK.
“It is right that we look at drugs policies in other countries and today’s report summarises a number of these international approaches.”
This is not the first time the Liberal Democrats have clashed with the Conservatives over drug legalisation. Even since the coalition agreement was sign David Cameron and Nick Clegg have disagreed on the subject.
This latest report is said to have caused “panic” according to the Daily Telegraph, not least because Theresa May had written the foreword to it. It is unclear whether she was made aware of its contents in advance of its publication.