Drugs debate urged by MPs

David Cameron will today be urged by MPs to start a wide-ranging public debate on drug policy - including the possibility of legalisation.

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Minister: 'Worst cannabis like drinking a pint of vodka'

Home Office minister Jeremy Browne said the worst cannabis is now about six or seven times stronger than it was a generation ago.

He said: "It's like somebody going from drinking a pint of beer to drinking a pint of neat vodka."

He added that despite falls in heroin use, he was concerned about new threats.

Mr Browne said: "Some of these legal highs can be very dangerous for people's health and of course the situations is mutating the whole time. All of these chemical compounds, these synthetic drugs, are being manipulated."

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Government 'open to new ways of thinking' about drugs

Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne said the Government was "open to new ways of thinking" about the drugs debate.

"We are open-minded, we think it's a decent, thoughtful, balanced report. We will consider it carefully," he said to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

The Home Secretary has said she doesn't think the Royal Commission is the answer at this time, but we are open to new ideas and evidence-based research to carry on reducing the harm caused by drugs in this country.

– Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne

Pressed on whether the Government would hold a Royal Commission as suggested, Mr Browne said the Home Secretary did not think that was the right approach.

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Branson: 'War on drugs has failed'

The war on drugs has failed. After four decades and $1trillion spent, what do we have to show for it?

A global increase in drug use, drug-related crime, violence, immense suffering and millions in prison for non-violent crimes.

The facts are overwhelming. If the drug trade were a country, it would have the 19th-largest economy in the world.

Treating drugs as a health issue could save billions, improve public health and help us better control violence and crime in our communities.

– Richard Branson

Government defend drugs policy

Drugs are illegal because they are harmful - they destroy lives and blight communities.

Our current laws draw on the best available evidence and as such we have no intention of downgrading or declassifying cannabis.

A Royal Commission on drugs is simply not necessary. Our cross-government approach is working.

Drug usage is at its lowest level since records began and people going into treatment today are far more likely to free themselves from dependency than ever before.

We will respond to the report more fully in due course.

– A government spokesperson
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