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Liberal Democrats to discuss drug decriminilisation

The Liberal Democrats will discuss the decriminalisation of drugs at their annual conference in Birmingham on the 17-21st September.

If the motion wins support, it will become Party policy, although they will need Conservative agreement before an official Government enquiry could be set up.

Even in that event, few Conservative MPs back drug liberalisation so it would be unlikely to become law in the current Parliament.

The motion says that current drug laws are ‘ineffective’ and ‘harmful’, and that a focus on education, treatment and rehabilitation would be more valuable.

It states: "Individuals, especially young people, can be damaged both by the imposition of criminal records and by a drug habit, and... the priority for those addicted to all substances must be healthcare, education and rehabilitation, not punishment.”

They are seeking to introduce a system as used in Portugal, where the possession of drugs for personal use would be decriminalised. Instead of receiving a prison sentence or a fine, users would be required to undergo treatment. The penalties for dealing drugs would remain the same.

Ewan Hoyle, founder of Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform, will put forward the motion, supported by Lib Dem MEP Sir Graham Watson.

Party leader Nick Clegg has said he will watch the progress of the motion with interest.

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