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Doctor calls for “sensible” regulation of drugs

9 November 2007

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A GP has reopened the debate on the legalisation of drugs and claims “sensible” regulation could cut crime and raise billions of pounds for the NHS.

Kailash Chand argues that making some drugs illegal has failed, and that drugs could be taxed and regulated like alcohol and tobacco if they are decriminalised.

Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the family doctor from Lancashire claims the money could be ploughed back into education and other rehabilitation programmes.

Legalisation will also mean that users can buy from places where they can be sure the drugs have not been cut with other substances.

And clear information about the risks involved and guidance on how to seek treatment could be made available, he added.

But Joseph Califano, chairman of the National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, believes that neither legislation nor decriminalisation is the answer.

He said decriminalisation will make illegal drugs cheaper, easier to obtain, and more acceptable to use.

He cites Italy as an example, where possession of small amounts of drugs like heroin has generally been exempt from prosecution, but the country has one of the highest rates of heroin addiction in Europe.


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