Doctors join debate over drug policy

Doctors say UK drug policy should focus more on health

Drug-related deaths have remained static, despite fewer people using illicit drugs

UK drugs policy needs an improved health focus as criminalisation is deterring users from seeking help, say doctors.

Although illicit drug use was declining within the UK, long-term problem drug use and drug-related deaths are usually not decreasing, says the British Medical Association.

Its Board of Science says evidence shows the present prohibitive way to drug use isn’t working.

It says doctors should inform drugs policy to position patients’ needs first.

Prof Averil Mansfield, chairman of the BMA’s Board of Science, said: “While the medical profession would never condone illegal drug-taking, we believe that we must always show understanding of the illness of drug addiction and respond inside the way that we might with some other medical problem.

“The BMA believes that drug users are patients first.”

Problem drug use affects about 10% of all UK drug users, with the top levels within the 25 to 34 age group.

Cannabis is essentially the mostsome of the most customary drug, followed by cocaine powder, ecstasy and amphetamines.

Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out a royal commission to think about the decriminalisation and legalisation of banned drugs, considering that the government’s approach was working.

He was responding to a house affairs committee report that argued there has been a case for a fundamental review of all UK drug policy “now, greater than ever”.

Official figures show that drug use in England and Wales is at its lowest rate under current measurements since 1996.