Drug use is a ‘human right’ – MPs

© Paulo Whitaker PW
Taking recreational drugs and growing your own cannabis is a ‘human right’ according to a group of MPs and peers, who say human rights legislation could be used by defendants to avoid prosecution.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, made up of lawmakers and ex-senior police figures, has suggested possession and growing drugs should not be a criminal offence because the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) stipulates the right to a private life.

The ECHR, in particular Article 8, could be invoked in support of the argument that possession or purchase (or cultivation of drugs for personal use) do not injure other people’s rights and therefore should not be criminalized,” the report states.

It adds that the blanket ban on drugs has so far proved unsuccessful.

Given the high-profile members of the group, including Justice Secretary Lord Falconer and former Labour leader Lord Kinnock, pro-drugs activists are likely to leap on the findings.

However, critics say the group’s conclusions would trigger one test case brought by a drug user, which, if successful, could “open the floodgates.

Mary Brett, from charity Cannabis Skunk Sense, said the committee’s report is fundamentally flawed.

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This is diabolical” she said. “Of course drugs injure other people. People can get psychotic when they take cannabis and can get really violent. We see the harm it does to families. Also, people steal to get money to buy drugs. That injures others.”

The report admits that in some circumstances other people are harmed by the effects of drug use, but concludes that the effects are no worse than people drinking alcohol.

It further calls for the government to introduce an “experimental ethos” to drug use that has “less focus upon prohibition, and greater emphasis upon human rights, public health and social welfare.”

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Chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz also said the report took the wrong approach to tackling drug use.

This is novel as far as decriminalization is concerned. One exemption, though minor, could open the floodgates. Human rights legislation is not designed to be used in this way.”

Joint head of the inquiry Baroness Meacher said it would be “wonderful if our government would trial a regulated market” for the sale of cannabis.

A government spokesman said authorities are not currently planning to act upon the report’s advice.

“This government has no intention of decriminalizing or legalizing drugs,” the spokesperson said.