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It’s time for Labour to experiment with new drug policies

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Well done, Denver: voting to decriminalise magic mushrooms is an act of common sense (even if this brave step was somewhat sullied by simultaneously voting down a pro-homeless initiative). It doesn’t mean the local Walmart is going to start flogging shrooms on two-for-one offers: it just means that the police must “deprioritise, to the greatest extent possible” any criminal penalties for Denver residents possessing or using the hippie drug of choice. It could be a life-changing move for some – growing research suggests it can help treat mental distress, such as depression and anxiety.

Denver’s move is just the latest outbreak of common sense on drugs – how depressing, then, that Britain remains so backward on the issue. That is mostly the fault, I’m sorry to say, of the Labour party. You’d expect the Tories to take a punitive, snub-the-evidence approach (even though, before assuming the Tory leadership, David Cameron accepted that drugs policy was a failure). But where is the leadership from Labour? The so-called war on drugs is a catastrophic failure, and it hurts many vulnerable people Labour was founded to represent. Drugs should be treated as a public health issue, not a part of the criminal system.


© The Guardian