The UK is still waging an unwinnable war on drugs

West Midlands Police from West Midlands, United Kingdom, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


The UK is still waging an unwinnable war on drugs

4 February 2023
André Gomes
Al Jazeera

In July 2022, the Home Office of the United Kingdom published a white paper titled Swift, Certain, Tough: New Consequences for Drug Possession, outlining a new three-tiered punishment system for drug possession.

Aimed at targeting middle-class people who use drugs recreationally, who the government blames for fuelling crime in the country, the white paper proposes to require first-time offenders to pay for and attend a “drugs awareness course”; second-time offenders to be subjected to randomised drug tests and to attend more extensive drugs awareness programmes; and third-time offenders to be charged and, if convicted, punished under a new Drug Reduction Order. According to the white paper, this new order would include four possible “interventions”: exclusion from certain venues and events, passport confiscation, driving licence disqualification and “tagging” with drug use monitoring bracelets (however, the Home Office itself admits the technology that would make the fourth intervention possible does not yet exist).

The draconian white paper is the latest offensive in the UK government’s decades-old war on drugs in which it has repeatedly attempted – and failed – to reduce the demand and supply for drugs through punishment and coercion.

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