The so-called war on drugs is “outdated” and “doesn’t work”, a former Conservative health minister has said.
Dan Poulter, the MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said the government had to “rethink” how it dealt with drug addiction.
The backbencher still serves as a NHS mental health doctor and was a health minister under David Cameron between 2012 and 2015.
In an interview with GB News’ Gloria De Piero, Poulter said: “The aggressive law and order approach where we criminalise, have very strong criminal sanctions for people who are caught in possession of drugs is frankly, you know, outdated and it doesn’t work.
“What we see is that the number of people dying from overdoses of heroin is going up.
“The number of people who are dying, who have they been poorly affected by other drug related harms is increasing. So we need a different approach.
“I also don’t believe just in incarcerating people or giving them a criminal sanction for possession of drugs when they may be dependent on drugs or addicted to drugs isn’t necessarily a very helpful way forward. And I think we’ve got to rethink it.”
Asked if the phrase “war on drugs” was “sensible, helpful, achievable”, Poulter added: “To be frank, no.”
Poulter said the government should look to the example of Portugal, where possession of drugs, not large-scale dealing, was dealt with by “supporting people and treating it” rather than as “a criminal problem”.
“In the UK, a number of people dying from heroin overdoses is rising. Portugal it’s falling,” he said.