Interesting result from a recent YouGov poll on drugs. The following question was asked:
Suppose people use illegal drugs but have not committed any other crime. In general, should such people be treated as criminals and brought before the courts, or should they be treated as people who may need medical treatment and other forms of support?
And the responses were:
- They should be treated as criminals and brought before the courts: 30%
- They should be treated as people who may need treatment and other forms of support: 62%
- Don't know: 7%
So more than two thirds of those who expressed a view and nearly two thirds of all respondents think that drug users should not be criminalised.
Given this sort of finding, I find it bizarre that politicians and ministers are still unwilling to enter a serious debate about decriminalising or legalising drugs. The reasons I hear again and again are that it is politically difficult to do so and that's why most senior politicians are not willing to engage with it. But how on earth can that be true when the majority of people actually think drug users should not be being criminalised? And what does it say about our political structure that these people and that view are largely being sidelined? A shrewd politician would surely be able to find the words and the approach to go with this very strong grain of public opinion?
So who from the senior ranks of all parties is going to step up to the plate and speak for two-thirds of the British public on this subject?