David Cameron has been urged by Tory modernisers to abandon Britain’s “futile” war against drugs and make partial legalisation a key pledge in next year’s general election manifesto.
Bright Blue – a Conservative think-tank which is backed by senior ministers including Theresa May, Francis Maude, and the former minister Andrew Mitchell – has urged for a shift in law in a series of policy proposals.
The Huffington Post UK spoke to one of the experts who advised the Uruguayan government on its landmark decision to make the production, sale and possession of cannabis legal, about what the proposals could mean for the UK.
Steve Rolles, the Senior Policy Analyst for the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said the move was "some welcome engagement from a party that has been strangely conflicted on the drugs issue in the past."
"Its not surprising though – prohibition is directly opposed to many core Tory principles including personal liberties, small government, and economic prudence," he added.
Mr Rolles has argued for a regulated cannabis market under a strict and sensible framework, like the one implemented in Uruguay.
The Institute For Social And Economic Research recently estimated that a regulated market, such as the one used in Uruguay, could reduce the government deficit by up to £1.25bn, whilst producing roughly £400m in "net benefit" for the country.
Mr Rolles argued that a "war on drugs" is "not just big government – it is stupid, wasteful and oppressive government.
"Let's hope Teresa May, one of think tanks directors, is paying attention and that the more pragmatic voices in the party can persuade her to abandon the failed drug war politics of old."
The new proposals by Bright Blue suggest that drug reform would appeal to young and ethnic-minority voters, who are crucial to the Conservative party’s long-term survival, while saving millions of pounds of public money.
The proposal for decriminalising drugs was put forward by the journalist and former Cameron adviser Ian Birrell and reproduced by The Independent today.
Interestingly, the call for legalisation follows Nigel Farage's demand for drugs to be legalised in the UK, earlier this month.
The Ukip leader said drugs should be made legal as the war against them was lost "many, many years ago."
He argued; "The criminalisation of all these drugs is actually not really helping British society."
"The lives of millions of people in Britain are being made miserable by the huge criminal element that surrounds the illicit drugs trade," he said.
The Independent quoted Ryan Shorthouse, director of Bright Blue, as saying it was now important for the Tories to catch up.
'What is clear is that much more needs to be done on the development of drugs policy in the UK as the current situation is both economically and socially damaging,' he said.
'We believe that the Conservatives at the next election need to be seen to be taking on the big, difficult issues facing society and not be distracted by the Ukip agenda of Europe and immigration,' Mr Shorthouse added.
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