In a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons, David Cameron said: "I ask the Labour government not to return to retribution and war on drugs. That has been tried and we all know that it does not work." That was in December 2002. And as a member of the home affairs select committee on drug misuse, Cameron supported the following recommendation: "That the government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways – including the possibility of legalisation and regulation – to tackle the global drugs dilemma."That too was in 2002.This week a major international summit on drugs will be hosted by Baroness Meacher in the House of Lords. No one from Downing Street will attend. No front line British politicians will be there to listen and learn from international medics, academics, politicians and economists who will reflect on lessons learnt from, and debate new approaches to, the "war on drugs".Privately, senior politicians have encouraged the hosting of the event and told organisers that they are sympathetic to a new discussion about drugs legislation – but only once public opinion has shifted. They signal privately that there is a need for change, but do nothing to lead that debate.
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