During Prime Minister’s questions on the 29th of June 2011 Cambridge’s Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert asked:
Does the Prime Minister believe that drugs policy has been failing for decades, as he said in 2005, and does he agree that the Government should initiate a discussion of alternative ways including the possibility of legalisation regulation to tackle the global drugs dilemma as he voted for in 2002.
Mr Huppert appeared to be citing a report by the Home Affairs Select Committee which included the recommendation:
We recommend that the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways—including the possibility of legalisation and regulation—to tackle the global drugs dilemma
Mr Cameron was a member of the committee and voted, in committee, to present the report to the House of Commons. (Committee deliberations)
Shortly after asking the question and while Prime Minister’s questions was still going on, Mr Huppert tweeted to say:
@RTaylorUK erm, I didn’t call for legalisation.
I’m presenting the quote, and the video for readers to make up their own mind. I, like the Prime Minister, thought he did.
The body of the committee report referred to though does not support legalisation; paragraph 275 states:
Finally, many sensible and thoughtful people have argued that we should go a step further and embrace legalisation and regulation of all or most presently illegal drugs. We acknowledge there are some attractive arguments. However, those who urge this course upon us are inviting us to take a step into the unknown. To tread where no other society has yet trod. They are asking us to gamble the undoubted potential gains against the inevitability of a significant increase in the number of users, especially amongst the very young. They are overlooking the fact that the overwhelming majority of young people do not use drugs and that many are deterred by the prospect of breaking the law. We, therefore, decline to support legalisation and regulation.
The Prime Minster’s reply during Prime Minister’s Questions on the 29th of June was:
I don’t believe that we should be legalising any drugs that are currently criminal, but I do believe that drugs policy has been a failure over recent years. I think there has been an insufficient attention to the two key areas, education on the one hand, warning young people about the dangers of drugs and treatment on the other. I think one of the ways to collapse the drugs market in this country is to have a more effective treatment system,. I think in this country particularly we’ve spent too much time on heroine replacement and methadone rather than actually trying to get people clean and cleaning up all the things in their lives which perhaps cause them to take drugs in the first place.
I too think our drugs policy is broken, and like the Prime Minister think the solutions to our problems (drugs driving crime and damaging the health of those who take them) lie with education and easier access to better treatment.