West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson says it's time to accept that "we have lost the war on drugs".
And he thinks it's time for 'an adult conversation" on the topic, saying that we should be treating drug addicts as people with a health problem rather than criminals.
The illegal drug trade costs public services in the West Midlands approximately £1.4 billion each year, as well as causing half of all acquisitive crime such as theft and burglary.
In February the PCC outlined a series of 'transformative' drug policies for the region, and travelled to Switzerland in June on a fact-finding mission to see how a different approach to drug users worked.
Policies such as heroin assisted treatment rooms, where users could be prescribed a small dose of safe heroin by a doctor, as well as a drug-testing programme that allowed for the safe testing of users' drugs, has seen the number of drug-related overdoses halve in the country.
Mr Jamieson believes that the UK should be looking into similar policies because the current approach is not working.
“What I said I wanted to do, about 18 months ago, is I wanted to get an adult conversation going about drugs," he said.
"I want to refocus drugs policy to the harm, to the crimes caused that are connected with drugs, and then the cost of it all.
"Because on all three things we’re getting it wrong. In public policy the war on drugs, as we call it, we have lost.
"And it’s an expensive war that we’re carrying on that’s failing. And it’s failing the people on drugs, it’s failing the people who suffer from the paraphernalia on the streets, and are worrying about their children getting involved. And it’s hitting the taxpayer big time. It’s costing us all a hell of a lot of money for something that’s very ineffective.
"One of the areas that we’re looking at is bringing the probation type work forward, so that many people on drugs can get help, diverting them away from their criminality. Because we’ve got a prison heaving with particularly young men, who are there for minor dealing crimes. And they’re mainly doing the minor dealing because they’re trying to feed their habit. And it’s just crazy.
"And in some cases we are looking at the health service. Could the health service prescribe certain things? Because then of course they don’t need to steal, they don’t need paraphernalia on the street. So we’re looking at that as an approach.
"And again in the long term, which is what we see in country’s like Switzerland, there’s an initial cost to the health service, but then medium-term/long-term, the cost goes down, because you’re not spreading disease.
"People on drugs like that, people living dysfunctional lives, need a lot more health care. They’re in and out of hospital all the time, these people, and what we want to do is try and regulate their lives, so in fact there’s a saving there.
"But the saving also comes from a lowering of crime, because burglaries and stealing are reduced. Half of all shop-lifting is down to people stealing for their next fix of their drugs.
"So I’m looking really at how we can actually help people who have always been looked on as druggies, the lowest of the low, criminals.
"And we’re saying actually they’re not druggies, they’re people’s children. And they’re not criminals, they’re actually people who have got a health problem. And once we start identifying people and start thinking about them like that, we’ll start solving their problems, solving society’s problems, and reducing the cost."
Earlier this week Home Secretary Sajid Javid, speaking in Birmingham at the Conservative Party Conference, announced a major review of the illegal drug market, pledging that, on his watch, "illegal drug use will never be tolerated."
And, while the PCC agrees that drugs are an issue that need to be dealt with, he believes we should be looking across the spectrum for answers, rather than throwing more people in prison.
In 2001 Portugal decriminalised all drugs, with the country seeing a dramatic drop in overdoses, HIV infections and drug-related crime as a result.
And Mr Jamieson believes that it's time the country examined Portugal's approach, and had an 'adult conversation' about its approach to the illegal drugs trade.
"The drugs trade is spurring most of the very serious crime that we’ve got," he said.
"Nearly all the gun discharges, they’re not bank robberies, they are people who are settling scores over drugs. And quite a lot, not all, but quite a lot of the knife crime is associated with the drug trade.
"What I’m doing is I’m saying I’m going to work through my eight-point plan, of which we are working through seven at the moment, and progressing them, which are within the current law.
"I want to work within the current law, mainly because I want to do something now, rather than postpone it for some time in the future. See if I wait for this wonderful day in the future where we do something else, in the meantime things aren’t getting better. And it may never happen.
"In the longer term, the idea of the decriminalisation of drugs, I think that’s where we need this big, grown up debate. And we want to start examining that as an option. And start asking all the questions around it.
"And, looking at Portugal, is it working? And if it’s not working, we won’t do it. And if it is working, well what can we learn from it? And can we do something similar?
"I’m very pragmatic about this, I don’t have set ideas. I think we’ve got to look at what works. What helps the people on drugs, what helps the general community, and what reduces cost?
"And if it meets those criteria then we ought to examine it. So I would say let’s have the evidence, let’s have a proper debate, let’s not go on to poles where we’re saying ‘you’re soft on drugs, I’m hard on drugs’.
"Let’s get in the middle and debate it properly, and come up with a proper conclusion."