Nick Clegg. Photo courtesy of 10 Downing Street CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nick Clegg is launching a campaign to persuade EU leaders to back global reform of drugs laws, warning that the current punitive approach has failed to curb the multibillion trade in illicit substances and has criminalised millions of young people…

Mr Clegg is to urge European leaders to make the case for a new global approach to drug abuse at a United Nations meeting next year. Many of them have switched tactics in recent years, tackling it as a health issue rather than a law and order problem…

Countries in Central and South America are pressing for reform but are being opposed by nations such as Egypt, Pakistan and Russia, which take an uncompromising attitude to drugs.

Mr Clegg writes: “There is much to play for, but a real risk that this opportunity for modernisation will be lost if the hardliners are allowed to assert their position unchallenged. Until now, European leaders have been all but silent on international drug policy reform.”