Drugs and legal highs reports released by Conservatives

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A Montrose representative is happy that after sending in a Freedom of Information request on two drugs reports the Westminster Government have released the information.

After attending a the Liberal Democrat Conference, Councillor David May claimed the Conservatives were not releasing the findings on a report on drugs and another on legal highs.

He sent in an FOI to the party for the findings to be released. They have now been published.

Mr May said: “Having sent in Freedom of Information requests on the two reports on drugs and legal highs, it is excellent news that the Tories have now allowed the release of the reports which they had previously blocked. It is clear from one of the reports that there is no link between tough penalties and level of drug use in a country.

“Lib Dem minister Norman Baker, who has called for the release of the report, has commented that treating drug use as a health matter would be much more effective, as shown in Portugal, and in my view the present policy is not working and we should base our policy on evidence of what works and not on prejudice. I believe that we now need to look again at our policy and looking very closely at what seems to be the successful policy adopted in Portugal.

“In the 1990s Portugal was struggling with a heroin epidemic of almost epic proportions as one person in every 100 was a heroin addict. Not everyone agreed in Portugal agreed with the change in the approach that was adopted to try and end the problem. In fact, many on the right wing of politics were appalled when prosecutions for people using drugs were ended.

“They didn’t like the idea that addiction would be treated as a health issue, rather than a criminal one, that addicts would be given treatment and healthcare to help them overcome their addiction. Those voices have been silenced now.

“Fifteen years later, and the number of people hooked on heroin has been halved, and there have been good results in terms of Aids infection, hepatitis infection and the like. Back in the 1990s “we feared that Portugal could turn into a paradise for drug users”, says Dr Jaoa Goulao, Portugal’s national co-ordinator on drugs and drug addiction. Thanks to the policy, that didn’t happen, he says.

He added: “On the subject of legal highs I am delighted to see that this report has also been published and more especially that the government is now going to consider legislation that bans the sale of all psychoactive substances, although exempting alcohol and tobacco.

“I back the Norman Baker who has commented ‘from today we will start looking into the feasibility of a blanket ban, such as they do in Ireland, on new psychoactive substances across the whole of the UK, clamping down on the suppliers and head shops rather than the users.’

“In my view the sooner these substances are banned the better as legal highs have caused fatalities and is a very significant problem for not only Montrose but across Angus and also in our country as a whole.”