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From cannabis cafes to death row: drugs laws around the world


The hardline drug policies adopted during the 1980s in the “war on drugs”, including mandatory minimum sentences for some drug-related crimes, has led to extremely high levels of incarceration in the country. The US has more than 2 million people in its jails – the second highest rate of incarceration per capita in the world – about half of whom were convicted of drugs-related crimes.


In the first half of the 20th century, doctors in the UK were allowed to prescribe drugs including morphine and cocaine to addicts – during this period there was a relatively low amount of drug use. In 1964, the UK introduced the first of several laws that would make it a criminal offence for individuals to possess drugs. The country now has, by some estimates, the highest level of dependent drug use in Europe – the number of dependent heroin users increa...

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