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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 November 24; 335(7629): 1061.
PMCID: PMC2094178
Should Drugs Be Decriminalised?

Look beyond legalisation

Christopher McAloon, foundation year 1 medicine

Many issues go beyond the medical arguments for the decriminalisation of drugs.1 The use of illegal drugs has increased in the past few decades. In 1970, there were around 5000 problematic drug users in the UK, and now there are between 280 000 and 500 000.2 The link between illegal drugs and crime is well established. Much of the crime within our cities (such as mugging, burglary, assault) is directly or indirectly linked to illegal drug use.

The National Treatment Agency recently released figures showing that spending on drug services had increased over the past few years, although the number of people who became addiction free had hardly changed in three years (5759 drug free three years ago and 5829 in 2006).3 Thus, we are not succeeding in treating addiction. Whether illegal drugs are decriminalised or not, a drugs service needs to be well funded and well staffed to get people off drugs, and this will not happen simply by legalising drugs.


Competing interests: None declared.


1. Chand K. Should drugs be decriminalised? Yes. BMJ 2007;335:966 (10 November.) [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Transform Drug Policy Foundation. .
3. BBC News. Drug services make slow progress. 2007. October 30.

Articles from The BMJ are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group