Julian Huppert Calls for Legalisation of Drugs


Wednesday, June 29th, 2011. 1:15pm

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.

My View

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.

13 comments/updates on “Julian Huppert Calls for Legalisation of Drugs

  1. cllr ian manning

    Richard, I’m shocked you’ve got this so wrong, but less shocked you won’t backtrack. If you reeally want people to make up their own mind, you would change the title of this article.

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    I’ve not got it wrong.

    Asking the Government to initiate a discussion of the possibility of legalisation of drugs is, to me, a pretty clear call for legalisation of drugs that are currently criminalised.

    That’s what Julian Huppert said, that’s how the Prime Minister interpreted his question too.

  3. Cllr Ian manning

    I’m afraid you have: he didn’t even ask for a dscussion about legalisation, he asked the discussino should *include it*:

    Are you saying one can’t ask for the possibility of something without calling for that thing to happen?? eg I might say

    “Can you look into the possibility of introducing the death penalty in a way that prevented innocents being killed?”

    Would that I mean I was pro death penalty?

  4. Richard Taylor Article author

    Yes Cllr Manning, if you say:

    Can you look into the possibility of introducing the death penalty

    I’m going to report that as you calling for the death penalty.

  5. Cllr Ian Manning

    Amazing selective quoting. But just to check, what if I typed:

    “Can you look into the possibile punishments for those guilty of murder?”

    Am I then calling for the introduction of (to name but a few) the death penality, public flogging, stoning, imprisonment, torture etc etc?

    incidentally, for clarification, I’m firmly oppossed to the death penalty.

  6. Richard Taylor Article author

    Cllr Manning, no if you say: “Can you look into the possibile punishments for those guilty of murder?” that’s what you’re doing, not calling for the introduction of any specific penalty.

  7. Adam Pogonowski

    It is interesting to note Cameron’s ridiculous response, which is to “treat” a problem once it’s already happened. Stupid policy. Should clearly be going for prevention of the harm happening in the first place, not just treating it.

  8. Craig Jackson

    I don’t understand the quote you’ve taken from paragraph 275 of the comitte report.

    “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. ”

    Exscuse me? Where no society has ever trod? What about the Netherlands? They have cannabis as a legal drug there.

    Also they say it will inevitably lead to more drug use. Yet Holland has less cannabis users then the UK. In fact Holland has one of the lowest cannabis use rates in Europe.

    Would have thought the government would have access to simple statistics and information, clearly I was wrong!

  9. Richard Taylor Article author

    Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on the 6th of June 2013 debate on the 9th Report of the Home Affairs Select Committee on Drugs: Breaking the Cycle Cambridge MP Julian Huppert suggested the UK tries decriminalisation of currently illegal drug possession citing the benefits seen in the Czech republic, where they monitored the effect of criminlisation of posession.

    Huppert also surprisingly said that South American drug lords’ submarines have a range which would enable them to reach London.

  10. Paul Lythgoe

    I would support Julian Huppert approach to decriminalise drug pocession. However, I would argue that the availability of drugs and particularly marijuana has been at the cost of our childrens mental health. For some recreational drugs are just that, for a significant few it destroys their lives, their families lives and their future. It would be helpful for Julian Huppert to consult with the mental health teams in Cambridge and their experience of the impact of drug use. The question for our politicians is how we can rid our society of the parasites who profit from drugs, and protect our children from the harmful social, judicial, and medical impacts of their use.

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