For the very first time, the British Medical Journal has called on doctors and the medical establishment to back the legalization of drugs, referring to it as their “ethical responsibility.”
In its editorial, the BMJ argues that laws against drug use have harmed people worldwide, while stressing that drug addiction should be looked upon as a health problem.
The call for reform is reflective of a shift in medical opinion, and follows on the heels of Britain’s two leading health bodies, the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health, which also voiced the opinion that the personal use of drugs should be decriminalized.
The group argues that criminalizing users deters them from seeking medical help and results in long-term harm, such as the introduction to hard drugs in prison as well as the breakup of families, and loss of employment.
According to the BMJ, heroin fatalities have doubled over the past three years due to government policies, with official figures revealing that 579 people died from heroin use in 2012, compared to 1,201 in 2015.
BMJ editor in chief, Fiona Godlee, writes: “There is an imperative to investigate more effective alternatives to criminalization of drug use and supply.“
Drug deaths in Britain are currently at an all-time high.