Ex-minister Norman Baker publishes Home Office advice 'blocked' by Theresa May
Former minister Norman Baker has released recommendations for reforming drugs policy which he says the home secretary suppressed.
The Lib Dem MP resigned as crime prevention minister in November, claiming Conservative colleagues had "repeatedly blocked" the release of proposals to relax current drug laws.
He has now published three of the proposals which he says were blocked.
The Home Office denied officials had proposed decriminalising drugs.
When Mr Baker left his job, he made several criticisms of the home secretary, writing that the will "to work collegiately to take forward rational evidence-based policy" had been in "short supply".
He was referring in particular to a Home Office report (see here) published in October, which found "no obvious" link between tough penalties and levels of illegal drug use.
He accused the Conservatives of delaying the report and of excluding several suggestions for alternative approaches to curbing harmful drug use.
'Rapidly diminishing vote'
In a letter to Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Saturday, he outlined his backing for three suggestions which he said the Home Office had drawn up:
1) Treating addicts with prescribed heroin under clinical supervision
2) A "Portuguese model" in which those who commit minor drug offences are offered treatment rather than facing criminal charges
3) Medicinal use of cannabis for certain conditions.
He underlined what he called "the Conservatives' unwillingness to consider reasonable, practical and proportionate proposals".
Mr Baker argued the ideas should form part of the Lib Dem manifesto.
A spokesman for the deputy prime minister offered some support for his position, stating: "For decades, governments have focused on sounding tough instead of doing what works to reduce drug use."
"We believe we should treat users as people with a problem in need of help."
A Conservative Party spokesman accused the Tories' coalition partners of pandering "to their rapidly diminishing core vote".
The Home Office disputed that its officials had ever proposed introducing the Portuguese model in this country and insisted that the current drugs strategy was working.
27 December 2014
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