AN INDEPENDENT election candidate has said the “war on drugs” has been lost and radical reform is needed.

Charley Sabel, who is running in Hove, said society is failing to address the causes of drug use by punishing users.

The MP hopeful said a recent experience in a Hove cafe had summed up the city’s drug problem.

“Last weekend I took an hour out of campaigning and with my book, dog and friend went to a café in Hove,” she said.

“We witnessed some interesting behaviour going unnoticed by those preoccupied with their laptops and phones.

“An anxious man ran into the toilet, followed by a nervous looking woman.

“From their appearance it would be fair to think they lived on the streets.

“When the woman came out, she was agitated and her hands were bleeding, she asked for a plaster from the busy barista.

“Soon, another man went into the toilets and eventually they both staggered out looking worse for wear. It was pretty obvious what was going on. Staff seemed oblivious to the drug dealing on their premises. Maybe they turn a blind eye for fear of confrontation.

“When my friend and I left, we were asked for money by one of the people who had set up his bags outside and looked in a very sorry state.

“The whole sad episode sums up the ‘war on drugs’.”

Ms Sabel said she was disappointed drug use is so prevalent in Hove.

“I was a child when Brighton was blighted by needles on the beach and I thought we had got past this,” she said.

“I extend my compassion to those who live this way, but I must express my disappointment that this is happening so openly in our town.”

The independent candidate said the answer to drug use could be decriminalising illegal substances, allowing them to be sold.

“The Treasury could benefit from the taxation and revenue, and consequently reducing drug related crime,” she said.

“It ticks the box for being tough on crime, help those most in need, and could therefore benefit us all.

“There must be better dialogue between lawmakers and citizens.

“We must ask why people are self-medicating as much as they are with substances or even technology.

“Is it choice, addiction, or a sign of an unhappy society?”