Eastbourne MP on collision course with party over drugs policy

A CONTROVERSIAL new policy on drugs adopted by the Lib Dems has been criticised by the Eastbourne MP.

The Coalition partners voted in favour of reforming the current approach to illegal substances during their annual conference in Birmingham last week.

Members backed calls to revolutionise the way the Government tackles the problem and, if the mooted plans ever made their way into law, the UK could see Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes opening nationwide.

The Lib Dems want to see possession of any controlled drug made a civil offence rather than a matter for the criminal courts – which supporters argue would make it easier to give addicts health advice and support from social workers.

And the party will also now lobby for the introduction of strictly controlled and regulated cannabis sales from government-controlled shops.

The proposals came after party officials looked at the social policies of other European countries and found that decriminalising the possession of drugs for personal use in Portugal had not led to a rise in abuse.

And the party’s research also found evidence that heroin clinics in Switzerland and the Netherlands have actually helped improve the health of addicts.

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies was one of those behind the plans, and he told delegates that the only way to stop the criminals involved in the drugs trade is to undermine the supply chain by taking away their income.

However, Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd was not convinced and promised to rebel in the House of Commons if his party’s plans ever got as far as a vote in Parliament.

He would not be drawn on the reasons behind his opposition, but said, “I flatly disagree with the conference motion on drugs, and have no intention of supporting it either in Parliament or anywhere else.”