Prohibition builds empires of criminals and outlaws the world's most ancient medicine, writes Labour MP Paul Flynn
A 50-year experiment in drug prohibition has been a disaster and is crumbling worldwide.
In 1971 the UK had fewer than a 1,000 heroin and cocaine addicts. After 45 years of the harshest drugs policies in Europe we have 320,000.
Prohibition increases drugs use, harm and crime. It builds empires of criminals as the alcohol prohibition did in America in the twenties.
The good news is that the world has recognised the futility, waste and cruelty of prohibition.
The criminal, irresponsible black market is being replaced by decriminalised regulated markets that can reduce drugs harm and use and liberate the sick to use the world's most ancient medicine.
The bad news is that UK has the worst of all worlds. We waste billions on arresting and imprisoning cannabis users for a taking a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.