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The war on drugs has failed, confirms doctors

The British Medical Journal says that drug prohibition has become a war on people across half a century

The enforced prohibition of the production, supply, use and possession of recreational drugs has caused major harm, according to a leading UK medical journal. 

The British Medical Journal has stated that the ‘War on Drugs’ has failed, and legislation should be brought in to oversee legalisation. According to their research, the curbing of violence, addiction and profits surrounding organised crime, as well as supply and demand within the drug trade, has not worked under the policy.

Drug addiction should be viewed as a health problem, rather than a crime that requires police involvement. The BMJ characterised it as a war that “too often plays out as a war on the millions of people who use drugs”.

“There is an imperative to investigate more effective alternatives to criminalisation of drug use and supply,” the BMJ related in an editorial.

The journal’s editor-in-chief, Fiona Godlee, called for regulated markets for the drug trade. “Health should be at the centre of this debate, and so, therefore, should healthcare professionals,” she added. “Change is coming, and doctors should use their authority to lead calls for pragmatic reform informed by science and ethics.”

According to their statistics, the number of heroin deaths has doubled in the past three years, due to government policies. 579 people died from using heroin in 2012, compared to 1,201 in 2015. The BMJ suggested that, with other drugs, a quarter of 15-year-olds may have taken illegal preparations of unknown quality and potency in the UK.

A version of the Portuguese policy was suggested, where drug users are referred for treatment rather than facing punishment as criminals. Drug deaths have fallen in the country by 80 per cent.