Tougher laws seem to have no effect on the levels of illegal drug use, a new report has suggested.
The Home Office report claims there is no obvious link between the penalties for possessing and supplying drugs and the number of people who choose to take them.
Politicians had hoped that by increasing the punishments for those involved in drugs, people would be persuaded to stay away from illegal substances. But this latest research suggests users are not put off by the potential consequences of their actions.
At the moment people convicted of possessing Class A drugs can face up to seven years in jail. And if they are found to have produced or supplied drugs, they could even be given a life sentence.
The study by the Home Office compared the UK’s approach to punishing the misuse of drugs with that of 13 other countries.
After looking at a wide range of strategies ranging from zero tolerance to decriminalisation, it was found drug use was influenced by factors “more complex and nuanced than legislation and enforcement alone”.
However, the report did suggest that treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal one could help addicts. Portugal has been treating the possession of drugs as a medical issue since 2001 and the study found this had significantly improved the health of Portuguese drug users.
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