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    Britain's Prince William poses for a photograph as he visits Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool, Britain, September 14, 2017.

    'Overwhelming Evidence': Prince William Not Alone in Calls for UK Drug Reform

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    His mother Princess Diana famously tread in a minefield, now the Duke of Cambridge has stepped into the controversy surrounding the question over whether drugs should be legalized in Britain - an intervention applauded by health experts and campaigners.

    Admitting he is "not immune" to the debate, having worked with charities helping people affected by drug addiction, Prince William said he believed the time is right for a "massive" debate on the subject in Britain.

    His decision to encourage debate around the drug policy within the UK was welcomed by one of the country's most respected public health bodies.

    "There is a rapidly growing movement of experts and organizations from public health, law enforcement and primary care that recognise the current system of punitive drug laws in the UK is failing on every measure — particularly health," Shirley Cramer, CBE, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, told Sputnik.

    "Putting people's health and wellbeing at the heart of drug policy, instead of criminalizing users, is the only way we can hope to reduce the increasing deaths and harms from drugs.

    "We hope the Prince's interest will continue to raise the profile of this important issue and that the government are brave enough to act in the face of overwhelming evidence for reform," Cramer said.

    The Prince's call came during a visit on Tuesday, September 19, to a charity in Shoreditch, east London, where the 35-year-old prince asked recovering addicts their thoughts on whether the law on illegal substances should be changed.

    Asking Questions

    The royal — second in line to the throne — said: "Can I ask you a very massive question — it's a big one. There's obviously a lot of pressure growing on areas about legalizing drugs. What are your individual opinions on that?"

    "You seem like the key people to actually get a very good idea as to what the big dangers here are," he added.

    Heather Blackburn, 49, from Hackney, offered her thoughts to the prince, explaining: "I think that it would be a good idea, but the money is kind of wasted on drug laws that put people in prison… of the people I've known in recovery, 95 percent have massive trauma and terrible stuff happens to them and using drugs to cope and then you get put in prison, you don't get the facilities and actual help you need.

    "You get punished — which is not going to stop anyone taking drugs."

    Listening to her answer, Prince William responded, saying: "So there needs to be more of a social element to it? So prison doesn't tackle the root cause of why someone is taking drugs?"

    Immediately after the visit, royal aides were quick to emphasize that the duke had been careful not to offer his own opinion on the subject. They admitted, however: "He has long taken a keen interest on the issue of homelessness and is not immune to the fact that addiction can pay a big part in this?"

    The aide added: "If there is a social issue, then he believes it is important not to talk about it in the abstract, but ask questions of and listen to those who are affected."

    'Government, Not Gangsters'

    Transform, the think tank pressing for a change in drug laws, welcomed his intervention and praised his courage for becoming involved in highlighting the issue.

    "Transform is delighted that Prince William has the courage to ask one of the most crucial questions of our time… legislation would better protect the most vulnerable people by putting government, not gangsters in control of the drug trade," a Transform spokesperson said.

    The Home Office published its long-awaited drug strategy report in July, 2017, that included a point blank refusal to consider decriminalization, or any reforms to the Misuse of Drugs Act.

    During the most recent general election campaign, the Liberal Democrat manifesto called for the legalization of cannabis to allow it to be sold in a regulated market.

    Last year two of Britain's most highly respected public health bodies called for the decriminalization of possession of all drugs.

    The Royal Society for Public Health and the UK Faculty of Public Health outlined their views in a joint report, Taking A New Line on Drugs.

    Their report urged policymakers to shift away from treating drugs as a criminal justice issue and to move to a public health and harm reduction-based approach.

    It is not the first time the duke has been prepared to air his views on key public matters. Together with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge and brother, Prince Harry, they are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma around mental health.    

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    Tags:
    UK drugs policy, Class A drugs, addiction, decriminalisation of drugs, domestic politics, public health, marijuana, legalization, drugs, Royal Society for Public Health, Prince William, Britain, United Kingdom
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