The ACMD has today called for further punitive laws to be enacted to tackle the growing number of new psychoactive substances being marketed an consumed in the UK. It wants analogues of already illegal drugs to be banned in the assumption that they will have similar effects.
The coalition agreement does state that the Lib Dems will enable legislation that "will introduce a system of temporary bans on new ‘legal highs’ while health issues are considered by independent experts."
We have already done that. This exact legislation was part of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act which passed earlier this year.
Liberal Democrat policy was recently brought up-to-date at this year's conference with the passing of a motion on protecting the community from drug harms. The party's stance is now crystal clear. Any further drug policy legislation that can be voted for by Lib Dem MPs must involve:
• an independent panel to assess our current drug laws,
• a switch to the 'decriminalisation' approach which has shown beneficial outcomes in Portugal,
• or a legal framework to enable a strictly controlled supply of cannabis.
Now we must be practical. We should not outright ignore the work of the ACMD - that was the attitude taken during the dying years of the Labour government. However, if the Conservatives wish to progress with any further drug restrictions with us in government, they must also be open to considering some of our party's drug policies too.