By Chris Bovey
A new Tory Prime Minister and Home Secretary inevitably mean an announcement on the government’s drugs policy.
Obviously, nothing sensible, following Joe Biden’s announcement last week that all prior federal possession convictions would be erased, paving the way for the process to decriminalise cannabis in the USA.
Far from pardoning Brits for low-level marijuana convictions, Suella Braverman wants to increase the maximum sentence for simple possession from five to seven years and up the maximum penalty for supply from fourteen years to life.
According to The Sunday Times, Braverman is “receptive” to upgrading cannabis to class A, putting it in the same category as heroin and cocaine, with stiffer penalties for possession and supply.
A crackdown on drugs
Braverman has signalled she intends to further crack down on middle-class drug users, as if no government has tried that before and claims deterrence is crucial, saying, “We’ve got to scare people,”.
She doesn’t need to introduce more draconian drug policies to scare me. She already succeeded in that horrifying speech at last week’s Tory Conference, where she announced she had a dream to see asylum seekers bunged on a plane to Rwanda. A country where arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture in detention facilities continue and political opponents are found dead, disappeared or jailed in politically motivated trials.
I thought the Tories could not scrape the barrel any lower to find a Home Secretary worse than her predecessor, Priti Patel; they have surpassed themselves. How evil will the next one be if that trend is to continue? Will we say Braverman was not so bad after the interstellar space zombie takes over the Home Office and introduces compulsory human sacrifice to the full moon for anyone found in possession of a spliff?
The announcement has been widely scorned on Social Media, attracting criticism from former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and retired Chief Constable Tom Lloyd.
Painfully stupid. Why cannot politicians actually look at the evidence and understand that #prohibition doesn’t work? #druglawreform @SuellaBraverman @AssocPCCs @ukhomeoffice https://t.co/1Sw9csiMmv
— Tom Lloyd (@TomCLloyd) October 9, 2022
As Biden pardons thousands for cannabis possession, Braverman pushes the UK further behind.
The War on Drugs has failed, disproportionately targeting working-class and minority ethnic people.
Stop criminalising communities and invest in them instead. https://t.co/vXRrQix9lZ
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 9, 2022
Well-known journalist and Tweeter Otto English was not impressed.
The rest of the civilised world is legalising or decriminalising cannabis – meanwhile, in Britain, we have absolute fucking lunatics in charge https://t.co/v0Gz7lYRD7
— Otto English (@Otto_English) October 9, 2022
Times readers disagree
A poll in The Times, which is subscription-only, found that 76% of their readers do not agree with Suella Braverman.
The announcement is out of touch with public opinion. Last year a YouGov poll found that would support the legalisation of cannabis in the UK 52% to 32%.
By 52% to 32% Britons say they would support the legalisation of cannabis in the UK, following Sadiq Khan’s plan to launch a review looking into decriminalising the drughttps://t.co/Ln7tD8GNhz pic.twitter.com/6KNCTyHNVK
— YouGov (@YouGov) April 6, 2021
This hardline stance on drugs is not only cruel and outdated, but it is also ineffective. The UK already has some of the strictest drug laws in Europe, and what has that achieved? Drug use has not decreased, and people are still dying from drug-related causes.
In a world where people are struggling more with their mental health than ever, the last thing we need is a return to the failed policies of the past that criminalise people for possessing a small amount of a relatively harmless drug.
The so-called “War on Drugs” has been an abject failure, costing billions of pounds and ruining countless lives without making a dent in the drug trade. It’s time for a new approach, and Braverman’s announcement is a giant step in the wrong direction.
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