A NEWPORT Senedd Member has suggested that Wales adopt a similar approach to tackling drugs reform as the decriminalisation implemented in Portugal.

Newport West MS Jayne Bryant, speaking earlier this week, criticised current and previous UK Government approaches to drugs as "increasingly out of step" and a "sad truth".

Ms Bryant argued that, 50 years on from the passing of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA), the debate over drug reform must move from a discussion over solely criminal matters, to one which encompasses healthcare and the economy.

She cited examples from abroad, including Portugal’s policy of decriminalisation, and Canada’s legalisation of cannabis, noting that the UK remains "frustratingly behind-the-times".


Jayne Bryant MS said: “Over the last half century, we’ve witnessed an exceptional rise in illegal drug use, addiction, and drug related deaths in the UK.

“Today’s situation represents a very serious failing of drug laws in our country, but in-depth and serious discussion on reform remains miles away.

“Our zero tolerance policy – the never-ending mindset of being permanently at war with drugs – criminalises and ostracises some of our most vulnerable.

“Portugal demonstrates what can be achieved when policy innovation and political will are aligned in response to a crisis. There, the public cost of drugs, particularly in terms of health and crime, has been greatly reduced.

“And in Canada, the government tapped – in less than a year – a billion-dollar industry; both aiding local economies, and bringing profits from the criminal pocket into the public purse."

Ms Bryant said Westminster was "refusing to open the conversation on drugs for the UK".

"This is a long-standing failure of all governments," she said.