Stroud busker Laurie Wright has debated the Government’s plans to crack down on drug use with Nigel Farage.
A 10-year drugs strategy was announced this week, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying action to tackle middle class drug use could include removing the passports and driving licences of offenders.
Laurie, who was born in Cheltenham but often plays near Stroud farmers’ market and in other areas around town, previously beat a crack cocaine addiction.
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Speaking about the new proposals on GB News Laurie said: “The only good thing I can see that’s come of this is more money will be put into rehabilitating people.
“To double-edge sword that with harsher penalties it’s like a1950s dad getting the belt out. That does just not help an addict. We know it’s a mental health problem.”
Watch the interview in full:
— GB News (@GBNEWS)
In response to Farage saying the threat of removing passports would deter recreational drug users Laurie added: “I can only talk from the addict perspective that nothing would have stopped me.
“But if we look at Prohibition in America where they made alcohol illegal the recreational users still went and found moonshine.
“The same thing just goes on. Whatever happens people will find it.”
Human rights barrister Diana Constantinide, who also took part in the debate, said she believed the Human Rights Act would prevent the confiscations of passports and driving licences.
Speaking about the impact on teenagers if drug use was decriminalised Laurie said: “‘Just say no’ didn’t work. It’s that rebellion.
“I know from personal experience from when I was in my teens it was ‘You shouldn’t do that.’ Why? Let’s find out it’s exciting.”
Laurie also made reference to Portugal, where drugs were decriminalised in 2001, as somewhere the UK could learn from.
Explaining why he chose to debate the former UKIP and Brexit Party leader, Laurie wrote on Facebook: “If you can persuade Nigel Farage we should be legalising drugs and dealing compassionately with addiction, you can persuade his viewers, and eventually persuade more people and more people with rational debate, and eventually the government.
“Or you could just not engage in debate, fold your arms and say ‘I’m a lefty,’ which is precisely why the whole of the left are out of favour with the whole country… because we have assumed the moral high ground instead of earning it.”