How to deal with drugs in Portsmouth?

This section highlights conversation topics from our platform and does not represent the GovFaces official position. 

Are drugs a problem in Portsmouth? The question was posed following the closure of a legal high shop on Commercial Road for three months. The police got the order to close the shop following complaints over anti-social behaviour.

The problem of drugs undoubtedly needs to be looked at, whether the choice is taken to go down the route of treating it as a medical problem or trying to restrict access through legal action. Whether as a health or legal problem, drugs are an issue for the politicians to address.

A question dealing with the problem of drugs was asked by Mollie on GovFaces who asked the question: “Do you believe drug addiction would be better dealt with as a health problem instead of as a crime?”

Flick Drummond, Conservative candidate for Portsmouth South, advocates a mixture of approaches to solving the issue saying in response to the question:

“The government have been commissioning new treatment services to stop addicts to become free of drugs for good. Prison isn’t always the right place to treat people so I will be supporting projects that sort the addiction rather than imprisoning people. Drug dealers must always be put in prison.”

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Liberal Democrat candidate for Portsmouth South, said in a video response:

“I think there are two bits to this in terms of personal use. I think the health route is the right way to go, but I think in terms of trading and selling drugs I think that has to remain a criminal thing. But I think there are too many people who end up with a record which then means they cannot get a decent job just because they had a small quantity of something for their personal use.”

Kevan Chippindall-Higgin, a UKIP candidate for Councilor, was slightly harsher in tone:

“No. It is a crime and one moreover based on personal choice. Every individual chose to take the drugs of their own free will and continues so to do. That said, addiction is a health problem in that DIY pharmacology is not a good idea. However, in order to deal with this, all illegal drugs must be dealt with firmly and those addicted be incarcerated for treatment. Drug addiction is also linked to acquisitive crime such as theft and burglary which brings misery to hundreds of thousands up and down the country and frequently destroys lives, especially among the elderly and vulnerable.”

On the other hand, Mr. Chippindall-Higgin also stated his support for the legalization of medical marijuana:

“Marijuana is currently illegal yet there are doctors who are of the opinion that it can assist in some medical cases. Therefore, it should be legalised like any other drug for properly dispensed medical use. It should remain illegal for use outside prescription parameters like any other drug.”

A similar strong stance against the full legalization of marijuana use was also adopted by Portsmouth South contender Steve Harris:

“I would not vote for that. Need to look up [what] the UKIP position is, but would still vote against it.”

The politicians therefore view the issue as something that must be dealt with on two fronts: treating those that are addicted whilst ensuring there is enough punishment to act as a deterrent. Either way with a short time left before the election it is not long before we find out whose policies will lead Portsmouth North and South for the foreseeable future.

Aidan Williams is a contributing writer and a University of Portsmouth student.