Flanagan supports British call to legalise drugs

Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 00:00

The Independent TD due to table a private member’s Bill on the legalisation of cannabis has welcomed a report by a British parliamentary committee which recommends legalising drug use.

Luke “Ming” Flanagan, an Independent TD for Roscommon, who intends to table a Bill early next year, said it “didn’t come as any surprise” that the British committee had concluded legalisation of drugs should be considered.

Mr Flanagan said, in relation to cannabis, legalisation would take thousands of cases out of the criminal justice system each year, freeing up Garda resources. He also said if taxation were applied on sales of the drug that this would generate revenue and legalisation would take profits away from drug gangs.

“From a health point of view people would know what they were getting,” Mr Flanagan added, saying drug dealers bulk out quantities of illicit drugs, with a variety of substances the health effects of which are unknown. The TD made his comments after the British parliament’s home affairs committee said Britain’s drugs policy was not working and called on prime minister David Cameron to appoint a royal commission to review the issue.

The report said it had been impressed by Portugal’s decriminalised regime where users are not prosecuted over small amounts of drugs and are instead referred to a non-criminal “dissuasion commission”.

It said the government should also fund research into the effectiveness of marijuana legalisation in the US states of Washington and Colorado, as well as into Uruguay’s proposed state monopoly on cannabis production and sale.

However, Mr Cameron yesterday ruled out a fundamental review of the government’s approach to drugs: “I don’t support decriminalisation. We have a policy which actually is working in Britain. Drugs use is coming down, the emphasis on treatment is absolutely right, and we need to continue with that to make sure we can really make a difference,” he said. – (Additional reporting PA/Reuters)