British Medical Journal advocates legalisation of drugs for first time

British Medical Journal advocates legalisation of drugs for first time

An editorial in the BMJ – the country’s most widely-read medical journal – argued that laws against drug use have harmed people across the world and that doctors have “ethical responsibilities” to campaign for change.

Drug addiction must be viewed as a health problem and police involvement must end, the editorial said.

It is the first time the BMJ has advised that doctors push for the legalisation of drugs and reflects a shift in medical opinion.

Fiona Godlee, the journal’s editor in chief, said: “There is an imperative to investigate more effective alternatives to criminalisation of drug use and supply.”

She added that the government should “move cautiously towards regulated drug markets” and that “doctors should use their authority to lead calls for pragmatic reform informed by science and ethics”.

The BMJ said heroin fatalities had doubled in the past three years due to the government’s policy on drugs and that the war on drugs “too often plays out as a war on the millions of people who use them”.

Professor Parveen Kumar, of the British Medical Association, told The Times the profession believed that treatment for addicts should be prioritised over criminalisation of drugs use.

Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg believes the government should consider introducing a version of the Portuguese model where drug users are referred to treatment rather than criminal punishment. Drugs deaths are said to have fallen by 80 per cent there.