Thames Valley Police Chief Calls for Cannabis Decriminalization
John Campbell, chief constable of Thames Valley Police – England’s fifth largest police force – said the existence of a ‘lucrative’ illegal cannabis market led to violence
A police chief today called for cannabis to be decriminalized to free up resources for other police work.
John Campbell, chief constable of Thames Valley Police – England’s fifth largest police force – said the existence of a ‘lucrative’ illegal market led to violence and crime.
He said the police have worked hard for years to combat cannabis smokers without solving the problem.
“It’s a recurring problem, so you could argue that there must be an alternative consideration to trying something different,” he told the Home Affairs Committee.
“But that comes with a lot of, I think, risks, or something, associated with a whole aspect of public perception, let alone the political aspects of it.”
The panel also heard from senior police officers and other PCCs who spoke about drug policy, policing and the illegal substances law.
Panelists were asked for their views on decriminalization and regulation of some drugs, especially cannabis, after gathering evidence in favor of the move in previous hearings.
David Thorne, deputy chief of police for South Wales, suggested that “great caution” should be exercised before any decriminalization decisions were made.
“Legalized substances such as alcohol and tobacco still do a lot of damage and there is quite a large black market,” he told MPs.
That said, there have been some benefits of demonstrating low-level decimalization so that we can get people into treatment rather than criminalizing them.
“But whatever we do in this space should be based on evidence rather than opinion.”
David Sidwick, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Dorset, said the majority of PCCs are against the idea and it will only cause more crime and public health problems.
He said, “The last time there was such a state-sanctioned drug, it was called thalidomide.
“There are two problems here: one, would it make life easier from a crime standpoint? No. Unambiguous.
“If you look at places around the world where they’ve done it, like California, the black market there is five times bigger than it was before.
“So it won’t change anything, it will only make it worse.”
Mr Campbell said the police have worked hard for years to fight weed smokers without solving the problem
Sidwick suggested that decriminalization would also have a negative impact on public health.
“Portugal had a 30-fold increase in hospitalizations for psychosis between 2010 and 2015,” he said.
‘Scotland itself mentioned a 74% increase for the same – that was in the papers in January.
‘Psychiatry professors are calling for cannabis to become a class A drug again.
“The US… we know that every four minutes someone is hospitalized for cannabis psychosis.
“So, from that perspective, just looking at psychosis, I’d say ‘no’. But I’ve had to investigate this thoroughly.
And you can see the same thing with autism — a 60% increase in those states. You see an increase in those states that have legalized, for cancer, for birth defects.”
Serena Kennedy, Merseyside Police Chief, told the panel that a “connecting thread” of the government’s ten-year drug strategy, Harm To Hope, launched last December, is about how drug users are treated and how they are treated as a drug addict. alternative to criminalization.
She added: ‘And actually we’re probably seeing some of our better results in terms of behavior change and changing offenses going forward, when we look at some of the alternatives.
‘But as it stands, we also need that hard-core criminal law option.’