A Tory police and crime commissioner has called for cannabis to be reclassified as a class A drug on a par with heroin and cocaine.
Dorset Commissioner David Sidwick told the Tory party conference yesterday: “We need tough penalties for possession and to stop the drive towards decriminalisation.”
He said cannabis was causing enormous harm to individuals, including psychosis, leading to an extra burden on the NHS. He added: ‘We’re not just talking about “a bit of weed” anymore, it does the same damage as crack and heroin. That is why we need the penalties for this illegal gateway drug to be the same as the Class A drugs.’
Most Conservative commissioners support cannabis being classified harder than class B.
As a class B drug, the maximum prison term for possession of cannabis is five years. Many users escape prosecution.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset David Sidwick
Forces in the South West are using recent increases in officer numbers to boost enforcement, rejecting calls from some politicians to see addiction as a public health problem rather than a criminal justice matter.
Neil McKeganey, director of the Center for Substance Use Research in Glasgow, told the fringe meeting that drugs pose a greater risk to society than religious extremism.
He said it was a “serious dereliction of duty” for police chiefs to treat drug use as a health problem, adding: “It’s like trying to win a war by providing more hospitals.”
The meeting also heard from Janie Hamilton, whose son James died of cancer after cannabis-induced psychosis caused him to refuse cancer treatment.
“Don’t let anyone say cannabis is harmless,” she told delegates.
A group of Tory police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will demand the drug be put on the same level as crack and cocaine (stock photo)
And social worker Marcia Da Costa spoke of her ‘shock’ that Labor London Mayor Sadiq Khan had visited a cannabis farm in the US as he called for a commission to decriminalize the drug.
However, at another fringe meeting at the conference, a Tory MP said addicts should be allowed to take heroin legally in controlled environments.
Crispin Blunt said: ‘It might be that you would give people access to heroin – legal access to heroin – but you would insist that they take it under medical supervision in a particular facility – so you can ensure that the drugs, they take is actually heroin.’
He argued that society cannot ‘arrest yourself out of the drug problem’ and that it would be ‘more intelligent’ to help people make informed decisions about what they take, rather than leaving them to become part of the ‘illegal criminal supply chain’.
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