Nick Clegg today sets out Liberal Democrat plans to overhaul drugs laws and says young adults should not be prevented from applying for jobs because of a “stupid youthful mistake” with drugs.

The deputy prime minister, speaking in London with Sir Richard Branson, will claim the war on drugs has failed and argue that drug possession should primarily be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal offence. He will say that users should be offered treatment or education or given a civil fine.

Mr Clegg will argue that evidence from abroad shows that addiction is not tackled by criminalising users.

In this country, if you’re a young person – say, out at a club with friends – and you get arrested for possession of a small amount of drugs, it’s likely you’ll end up with a criminal record.

That means this stupid youthful mistake could damage your whole future – possibly stopping you from getting the job you want, whether it’s as a doctor, nurse, teacher or even a taxi driver.

The policy, to be contained in his party’s election manifesto, is likely to be attacked by opponents as amounting to the decriminalisation of drug use.

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