Nobody should go to jail for drug use, it's traumatic - former UK undercover cop

South Africa Drug Policy Week began on Monday, 31 July and continues until 4 August.

Pre-conference and parallel sessions are being facilitated by the Aids and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (ARASA), The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), The International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD) and the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC).

One of the participants is Neil Woods who was once a UK undercover policeman for 14 years, posing as a drug user to infiltrate criminal drugs gangs.

He now works for Law Enforcement Action Partnership (Leap) after deciding that the war on drugs has failed.

Woods says the violence surged with every year he was doing undercover work, which he says took him a while to comprehend.

The most successful drug dealing gangster is the one who can be the most terrifying and the one who can intimidate an entire community to make things very difficult for both undercover and conventional police.

Neil Woods, Chairman, Law Enforcement Action Partnership and author

Woods says in Switzerland, heroine is prescribed to drug users which has led to the elimination of street prostitution.

He adds that policy makers should avoid measuring the number of drug users and focus more on reducing drug harm.

Drug policy should be about reducing deaths and harm.

Neil Woods, Law Enforcement Action Partnership and author

Drugs can be dangerous and we need to get them under control and we can only do that by creating a regulatory framework to deal with the problem explains Woods.

He goes on to say that decriminalising is a good first step because no one should go to jail for drug use as it is traumatic and counter productive.

Woods says the marketplace needs to be controlled and taken away from organised crime.

Listen to the interview:


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