Decriminalisation of cannabis not the same as legalisation

Cannabis plants

Cannabis plants

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While I agree with David Whalley that the use of cannabis by some people can trigger psychosis and other mental health problems, his comments on Green Party policy on drugs is misleading.

He gives the impression Greens think cannabis can be freely used with no controls. Let me clarify the Green Party’s position.

Free access to drugs for all is not Green Party policy and never has been. It is important to emphasize that decriminalisation of cannabis is not the same as its legalisation, a distinction Coun. Whalley has clearly missed.

The Green Party believes the cost of enforcing prohibition is increasingly untenable. The Policy of “War on Drugs” has clearly failed.

We need a different approach towards the control and misuse of drugs. In keeping with the Green Party’s health promotion policies, the Green Party would aim to minimise the misuse of drugs and the social, psychological and physical harm to those who use drugs and to society at large.

With regard to cannabis specifically, it would be removed from the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. The possession, trade and cultivation of cannabis would be decriminalised, not legalised. The trade in cannabis would be the subject of a Royal Commission with a view to establishing a fully legalised, controlled and regulated trade. Small-scale possession of cannabis for personal use would be decriminalised. The starting point would be advice to policing authorities to caution rather than prosecute for offences of drug possession for personal use and to refer offenders to the health-care services. The recommended sentences for small-scale supply would be noncustodial options. A Royal Commission or similar body would be established to review currently controlled drug classifications, within a legalised environment of drug use. This commission would, after wide consultation, consider and recommend frameworks of social, economic and health conditions for drug use and supply.

Ian Barnett

Pendle Green Party Election Agent