The Royal College of Physicians, a professional organization in the United Kingdom which represents 26,000 medical professionals, have called for the legalization of cannabis, heroin, and cocaine saying the criminal justice system is stopping people from seeking help, according to a report from the Sun.

The position is in line with a Royal Society of Public Health campaign, called “Taking a New Line on Drugs” that seeks to move the nation from a law enforcement-based drugs strategy toward one based on public health and harm reduction.

The RCP adopted the new policy during the meeting of its general counsel.

“The criminal justice system is not the place to address the often complex needs of people addicted to drugs. We are committed to ensuring that all people who need to do so are able to access timely and appropriate prevention and care services.” – Jane Dacre, RCP president, to the Sun

The proposal would see drug use and possession legalized but dealing would remain illegal.

According to the RCP, drug deaths and hospitalizations are up throughout the U.K. In 2015 there were 2,479 registered drug-related deaths in England and Wales; an increase of 10 percent from 2014 and 48 percent from 2005. Sixty percent of those deaths were individuals aged between 30 and 49.

“The most recent data for England in 2015–16 shows that there were 81,904 hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug-related mental and behavioural disorders, a 9 [percent] increase from the previous year. Across the same period there were 15,074 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs, 51 [percent] more than 10 years earlier.” – RCP in an Apr. 25 press release announcing the policy position

Portugal is the only nation to legalize all drugs. Since the 2001 reforms, there are three drug overdose deaths for every 1 million citizens. In the U.K., that figure is 44.6 per million, according to an Independent report.  

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