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New Tory book says legalising drugs is the way ahead

Peter MacMahon, The Scotsman, 8th March 2006

RADICAL libertarian ideas - including legalising drug-taking - should be at the heart of policies aimed at reviving the Tories' electoral fortunes in Scotland, according to a new book endorsed by Annabel Goldie, the party's leader.

In one of a series of essays in The Blue Book, edited by Murdo Fraser, the Tories' deputy leader, Iain Catto, a lawyer and former Tory councillor, argues that politicians ban drug-taking because they are "fearful of being seen as soft on drugs".

In the book, published today, Mr Catto argues that Tory policies should be based on individual choice and only permit intervention by the state when there is "overwhelming necessity".

He writes: "If an individual is aware of the risks involved in taking drugs - which makes education vital - and if the individual has the capacity to consent, then surely it should be left to the individual to make that choice?"

Mr Catto adds that if the state criminalises a drug like marijuana because of health fears and stops young people using it "the state is deciding that is knows better than individuals what is right for them, in essence claiming to protect us from a so-called dangerous product."

Mr Fraser said he was "relaxed" about Mr Catto's ideas but they were not official Tory policy. Under Miss Goldie, who welcomes the contribution the book makes to developing policies, the Conservatives have taken a hardline anti-drugs stance.

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