Bob Ainsworth, British MP, has served as both the Home Office drugs minster and the Secretary of State for Defence. Today, Ainsworth has come out for legalizing and regulating drugs, stating the “prohibition has failed to protect us,” and calling the war on drugs a failure. Transform Drug Policy Foundation Blog has his full statement:

Mr Ainsworth said;
“I have just been reading the Coalition Government’s new Drugs Strategy. It is described by the Home Secretary as fundamentally different to what has gone before; it is not. To the extent that it is different, it is potentially harmful because it retreats from the principle of harm reduction, which has been one of the main reasons for the reduction in acquisitive crime in recent years.

However, prohibition has failed to protect us. Leaving the drugs market in the hands of criminals causes huge and unnecessary harms to individuals, communities and entire countries, with the poor the hardest hit. We spend billions of pounds without preventing the wide availability of drugs. It is time to replace our failed war on drugs with a strict system of legal regulation, to make the world a safer, healthier place, especially for our children. We must take the trade away from organised criminals and hand it to the control of doctors and pharmacists.

As drugs minister in the Home Office I saw how prohibition fails to reduce the harm that drugs cause in the UK, fuelling burglaries, gifting the trade to gangsters and increasing HIV infections. My experience as Defence Secretary, with specific responsibilities in Afghanistan, showed to me that the war on drugs creates the very conditions that perpetuate the illegal trade, while undermining international development and security.

This is a significant development for sensible drug reform in the UK. This would be roughly the British equivalent of someone like Donald Rumsfeld or Colin Powell calling our war on drugs a total disaster and advocating for it to be replaced with a system of legalization and regulation.