Shooting ourselves in the foot

During this year’s General Election campaign one of my friends, who doesn’t always vote Liberal Democrat, was enthusiastically considering voting for us. Then our cannabis policy was announced in the press. For her this cast a shadow over her voting intentions and she had grave doubts that she would now vote Liberal Democrat. She had run an urban centre in the UK for homeless men for 7 years. Around 50-80 men visited this centre each day. A common pattern, with a proportion of the men, was to arrive at the centre because of family breakup and unemployment but in a general state that they could be helped to turn their lives round. Then they would adopt the habit of taking cannabis regularly and over time become permanently mentally ill and no longer be in a state to access help. This is so tragic and so sad.

I’m personally in favour of legalising and regulating cannabis use. The aspects of doing this that particularly interest me are, those who choose to use cannabis for recreational and/or medical purposes are no longer criminalised and users can ensure being supplied with cannabis without impurities which is better for their health. With regard to the present position of criminalisation there is maximum sentence of 5 years in prison for use of cannabis and a maximum of 14 years in prison for trafficking. However in recent years the cautions for initial possession and people charged have fallen. From 2010 to 2015 by 48% and 33% respectively. This has resulted in the number of people imprisoned for this offence being relatively low compared to the general prison population for example in 2015, there were 1,363 imprisoned for offences to do with cannabis – about 1 to 1.5 % of the total prison population. These people are probably mostly cannabis traffickers. These figures all indicate that cannabis users are no longer a priority for the police no doubt influenced by recent cuts.  There are of course other benefits of legalising and regulating cannabis. It is thought that annually about I billion pounds could be raised in tax revenue in addition to the savings on criminal justice costs and regulation should create extensive employment through production, distribution and selling.

However using cannabis is not without its health risks. For 25 years I worked as a professional Health Educator. I taught Health Education and Biology in secondary schools, mostly comprehensives, for 5 years and then after obtaining a Diploma in Health Education decided to do my Health Education by teaching yoga free-lance for 20 years. Through my training and teaching experience I am very aware of the concept of Informed Choice; it is the backbone of Health Education. As an educator you endeavour to provide your students with accurate and wide ranging information about a particular aspect of health. Then through various activities, including discussion, you facilitate the exploration of the topic and hopefully each student can then gradually work towards a decision that is right for them. In promoting our policy of Legalising Cannabis I feel we need to put more emphasis on the educational aspect of this. In our 2017 manifesto policy in relation to other illegal drugs the educational aspect is stated though perhaps rather fleetingly;

“End imprisonment for possession of illegal drugs for personal use, diverting those arrested for possession of drugs for personal use into treatment and education (adopting a health-based approach), or imposing civil penalties.”

This policy document doesn’t mention education in relation to legalising cannabis use.

A well researched and balanced leaflet by The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2014) outlines the possible risks of using cannabis but also acknowledges that most people who use cannabis find it pleasurable. However for some people, who probably have a vulnerability, there can be serious deleterious effects such as depression or psychosis. In addition a large New Zealand study found that adolescents who used cannabis were developing a way of life that didn’t help with schoolwork.

A more recent study, published August 2017, showed that cannabis use raises the risk of dying from high blood pressure. 1,200 subjects who used cannabis were studied over 20 years. They were three more times likely to die from high blood pressure and with each year of use this risk grew by 4%. This effect may be worse than a similar effect from cigarette smoking.

I feel our Legalising Cannabis policy should have a strong emphasis on also educating people about cannabis so each person can make an informed choice. I feel we Liberal Democrats in promoting this policy should give a clear message that we are also involved in education about cannabis. Such a programme would not be difficult or expensive as good materials, such as the above leaflet, are freely available. If we were clearly seen to be involved in this educational aspect I feel many voters would be reassured.

The whole subject of Legalising Cannabis is complex; there are many strands. In being presented in the media it is usually over simplified, I know often intentionally by the press to give a certain impression, and this gives room for people’s fears. I feel we should try to present the ideas in a fuller and more balanced way. I hope those in the Liberal Democrats who are responsible for presenting our policies to the voters will work on finding a way to address some of the issues I have raised. Perhaps using the term Informed Choice somewhere along the way would help. If we don’t change how we present this policy I do feel it will continue to put some voters off and it will indeed “Shoot Us in the Foot”.

I’m glad to report that my friend, mentioned at the start of this piece, did vote Liberal Democrat and the LIb Dem candidate was elected! I hope that the conversation I had with her about this issue played some part in her decision.

* Jane Reed is a Liberal Democrat member and activist in York

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47 Comments

  • Whilst I believe this is a very good policy, it will take a long time to convince people of the benefits. It is indeed a complex issues and I commend the party for defending it. This, we must continue to do and show resilience as in the long term, it will work.

  • adolescents who used cannabis were developing a way of life that didn’t help with schoolwork

    An understatement, perhaps?

    I feel our Legalising Cannabis policy should have a strong emphasis on also educating people about cannabis so each person can make an informed choice

    Problem is, what are you going to do with those school pupils who make an informed choice to get stoned, and as a result fail all their exams?

    Or to go back to the anecdote with which you began, were those homeless men who put themselves beyond help by taking cannabis not already making an informed choice? After all they can hardly have been unaware of the effects of cannabis.

    It seems to me that focusing on ‘informed choices’ does not address the problems of the policy, which are not to do with people being uninformed but what to do with those who make the informed choice and suffer the consequences.

  • Glenn Andrews 23rd Aug '17 - 2:34pm

    ‘I feel our Legalising Cannabis policy should have a strong emphasis on also educating people about cannabis so each person can make an informed choice.’…… surely this information will be put on the (presumably) plain packaging accompanied by some allegedly shocking photograph.

  • nigel hunter 23rd Aug '17 - 2:43pm

    Those who fail their exams through being stoned will learn a lesson of life through the consequences of their actions.
    Were the homeless taking cannabis to hide the trauma that they were going through? It can be a way to help cope with life’s troubles but can begin a slippery slope of decline. All kinds of help is needed by people who are in this situation.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Aug '17 - 2:48pm

    This is why the party shouldn’t just focus on an uber-liberal core vote. Running around saying ‘Legalise cannabis, yes! Radicalism, yes!’ seems to switch off sober analysis in favour of simple good vs bad binary options.

    Legalising cannabis might be the right policy, and would certainly help to free up police time, but we need to show that we appreciate people’s concerns about the drug.

  • I think it would be a big mistake and retrograde step to legalise cannabis. I too, know of people who developed mental health problems at an early age after regular use.

    It is often claimed that making drugs illegal has not solved anything. This is absolutely true, but then drugs use has never seriously been prosecuted or punished. That is the real problem that the party should be addressing.

  • Anyone advocating making drugs legal has to (a) accept that if that comes to pass then use of them will become much more common, (b) be okay with that generally, and (c) have some plan to deal with the consequences.

  • Glenn Andrews 23rd Aug '17 - 4:31pm

    @Peter;
    If the thread is delving into anecdotal evidence, let me give you the benefit of my experience of the last thirty years. I’m in my late forties so I, like many of my age will have accrued a number of acquaintances over the years. I know of many dozens of individuals who have made use of the recreational narcotic cannabis (including many who have for in excess of quarter of a century)- of those, I know of one person who has developed mental health issues. It’s also true that I know of two other people who have had mental health issues (neither of whom have touched a recreational narcotic other than alcohol in their lifetime).
    I can honestly say, that given among the many dozens of people I know who have taken cannabis, the percentage of those who have committed any other crime is close to zero and that none of these individuals (or wider society) would benefit from them being prosecuted or punished.

  • paul barker 23rd Aug '17 - 4:47pm

    This article seem a bit confused. There is nothing in our current policy that implies that Cannabis, in whatever form, is a good thing. As drugs go, its crap – masses of harm for very little reward.
    Part of the point of decriminalisation is that we can prod users towards less harmful forms of the drug & start making it unfashionable.
    Right now, in London at least, we have the worst of both worlds, Weed is effectively legal unless the Police dont like your face in which case its suddenly illegal again. The situation is illiberal & undermines the Rule of Law in general.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Aug '17 - 5:04pm

    “If we don’t change how we present this policy I do feel it will continue to put some voters off and it will indeed “Shoot Us in the Foot”.”
    Setting aside the merits or otherwise of cannabis legalisation (though for what it’s worth, I’m not convinced by the idea), the party certainly shot itself in the foot with the presentation of this policy in the election campaign.

    Perhaps the biggest mistake was launching the policy in a general election campaign (maybe done cynically to woo student voters) instead of giving the idea more time to become established. This was always going to be a hard sell inside and outside the party.

    From Tim Farron down, senior party figures looked and sounded awkward and embarrassed when discussing the policy. Hearing middle-class middle-aged white blokes refer to “skunk” was funny enough, but they all seemed to stumble over themselves when asked the obvious questions about the thought of their own children smoking the stuff. Even the details of the policy then start sounding a bit silly and/or inconsistent because of the way they were put across: liberalising by regulating the strength of “skunk” and numbers of plants, tax raising potential, downplaying mental health concerns while making a big point about mental health care more generally, etc.

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Aug '17 - 5:07pm

    “Perhaps the biggest mistake was launching the policy in a general election campaign (maybe done cynically to woo student voters) instead of giving the idea more time to become established. This was always going to be a hard sell inside and outside the party.”

    Agree

  • Dav – (a) There are many examples of the opposite actually happening in countries which have taken a different approach to drugs. Regardless, recreational drug use is already very common. (b) More than happy. (c) Over the past several decades of the ineffective and pointless ‘war on drugs’, plenty have.

  • One of the difficulties of public health policies is weighing the alternatives.

    Massive harm to younger people is done by alcohol use. You just need to go to any city or town centre on a saturday night. Arguably they would suffer less harm if they are taking cannabis instead.

    Secondlyif legal and licensed there is the ability to control more harmful forms of cannabis.

  • @Glenn Andrews – Let me clarify. Cannabis is a drug, there is anecdotal and hard medical evidence that it leads to mental illness. I am not aware that it leads to criminality except perhaps when driving or if it leads to the use of harder drugs. At present it is illegal but the enforcement is a joke.

    This tendency to ignore so called recreational drugs has spread to the use of other drugs such as the misnamed “legal high” products which sadly kill many young people per year in the mistaken belief that they are harmless.

    Then we have the respectable middle classes and rich bankers who regard cocaine as recreational and harmless. The list goes on.

    While society, the police and prosecutors treat all of the above as soft crimes to be ignored, we shall continue to have a drugs problem with all the crime , tragedy and death that goes with it. Progressives can be as liberal as they wish but advocating the legalisation of cannabis is clearly sending the wrong message and just asking for more problems.

    If we had zero tolerance years ago we would not have the drug dependence we see today.

  • Peter – the rise in the use of ‘legal highs’ has happened precisely because of the illegality of the more traditional recreational drugs – not because they’ve been ‘ignored’.

  • The american national intitute for drug addiction (NIDA) is – and I was surprised by this – pretty dismissive of a casual link between cannabis and chronic mental health problems except for those with a particular genetic variation suffering greater schizophrenia and psychosis but this does seem very heavily dependent on having a particular genetic variation.

    https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana/there-link-between-marijuana-use-psychiatric-disorders

    To be fair in the UK the NHS and the royal college of psychiatrists do think there is more of a link.

    If you compare the list of problems associated wih cannabis use to those associated with alcohol or tobacco use there is really no contest that alcohol and tobacco are considerably more harmful.

    Tobacco killing about half of all smokers.

  • @ Michael – You are comparing the level of problems associated with a legal substance, widely used with an illegal substance, presumably rarely used in comparison. You are using this argument to suggest that the illegal substance is safer. Is that a fair, logical and responsible comparison?

  • I was under the impression that our policy on legalising cannabis was because we know that it can be damaging, and that the current approach isn’t working. When people cite examples of people they know who have come unstuck because of cannabis use, they are talking about people who have come unstuck under the current policy of criminalisation. I thought the point of licensing was to better control who sells it, and to whom (not to school children) and to use the tax raised to contribute to drug education and treatment. We should treat drug addiction is a health problem, not a criminal one, same as we do with alcohol, and the tax raised would help us to do just that. Freeing up the police to chase actual criminals, including any remaining dealers selling to school kids, benefits us all.

    I do, however, accept that many people didn’t get that message, and it doesn’t help when the press and rivals knowingly misrepresented it.

    I think it was unfortunate timing that the policy came to the public consciousness during an election campaign when rivals and unfriendly press have no intention of allowing the actual policy plans to be communicated fairly. There are also a lot of people who decide if they are for or against a policy based on whether or not their party supports it, so we had people taking against the policy simply because their party didn’t propose it, which I don’t think would have happened outwith an election campaign.

    However, it was already policy by the time the election was announced, so the leadership had to decide whether to include something agreed at conference, or to ditch something agreed at conference. We like to pride ourselves on evidence-based policies, so what does it say if we ditch a policy that has good evidence behind it, just because we’re worried the public aren’t ready?

    The lesson may be that when we agree on a policy that could be hard to communicate, we don’t wait until an election to start.

  • My instinct is to favour legalisation, however I also favour evidence-based policy. The good news is that several US states and Canada are conducting full-scale live trials for us, and we will be able to learn from their experiences.

    It will be very interesting to see the effects of a legal and quality-controlled supply chain, versus anecdotal evidence based on the UK experience of a variable and criminal-controlled supply chain.

    Of course informed decisions, and therefore education, are important. But at the end of the day, it’s rightly not the job of Government to use the law to stop us choosing to risk harm to ourselves. If it was, there is a sizeable list of other things that should be banned before it was worth worrying about cannabis.

  • @ James – where is the evidence for your assertion?

  • @ peter

    ” You are comparing the level of problems associated with a legal substance, widely used with an illegal substance, presumably rarely used in comparison.”

    Um.. You were the one (i asume) saying in a previous post there was “hard medical evidence” about cannabis.

    You can’t exactly have it both ways!

    To a degree it doesn’t matter too much if something is illegal. If you compare smokers, drinkers or cannabis users against others who are not you are still doing that comparison.

    Perhaps the biggest worry is the acute effect of alcohol of violence against others whereas cannabis seems to have the opposite effect and make people chill!

  • For info, this is a comprehensive study of the effect of legalising cannabis in the USA – https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/dose-reality-effect-state-marijuana-legalizations#full

    The overall conclusions are that it makes virtually no difference to anything apart from State tax revenues. Cannabis use rates hardly changed, as did alcohol and hard drug usage. Likewise, there have been no meaningful changes either way to road accidents, suicide rates, hospital admissions, crime rates or academic performance.

    It appears that anyone in those States who was inclined to use cannabis already was, just from criminal sources.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Aug '17 - 9:42pm

    Jane provides a god piece but reaches the wrong conclusion in my view.

    The policy did not involve any shooting in the foot. The inability to promote it or mention the reasons for it did. And the lack of tough policies on other aspects of genuinely harmful practices that go unchecked or unpunished.

    If instead of a daft emphasis on being against shorter sentences, we stopped meddling in sentencing and left it to judges , accountable to juries or community panels, we would thus be seen as evidence based instead of libertarian fools.

    I am with Eddie Sammon and Paul Barker on this.

    A balance is what we need. Keep a good policy, get the rest done far better .

  • Lorenzo
    I think the evidence shows there is very little gained from short sentences, which is what motivates proponents, not the fact that they are “libertarian fools”!

  • Homeless people are always likely to look for some way to escape their situation they are in. The temptation to escape the world they live in must be overwhelming. If not cannabis, it will be alcohol or some other drug. The way to help them is to address the situation they are in and help solve the dispair it engenders.

  • I was simply quoting medical evidence. Legalisation would almost certainly lead to significant increases in usage. Why does the party want to encourage use of a drug that is known to cause mental health problems? Why do you support it?

  • John Littler 24th Aug '17 - 11:30am

    Criminalising cannabis has not stopped it. As an illegal drug it’s unregulated and just gets stronger as skunk ( 90% of what is on sale), which is a lot more dangerous than the old hash and grass stuff was. It can also be helpful to a wide range of medical conditions, where the NHS drug is more damaging and often more habit forming.

    Treating cannabis as a regulated drug for adults only, with strength reduced and THC balanced with other constituents would be far better; with over use dealt with as a medical and public health issue; is the way forward.

    It can only be a gateway drug if it is sold by the same illegal dealers as sell heroine and cocaine etc. Instead it could raise a lot of tax and take away the money to gangs where it finances people trafficking and other crimes.

    Legalisation would not only raise GDP and tax revenue, while reducing health issues from the Illegal strong Skunk , but would save much police and courts time and costs, plus the huge cost of prisons.

    The case for this is overwhelming, but the Daily Fail, Express and Murdoch papers stand in the way and would try to slaughter any politician who stands for this. Richard Branson is “ready to roll” with the brands registered.

  • @John Littler Your first sentence is correct. Criminalising cannabis has not stopped it – mainly because the law has rarely been enforced. That is the problem.

  • Peter 24th Aug ’17 – 10:29am

    I was simply quoting medical evidence. Legalisation would almost certainly lead to significant increases in usage. Why does the party want to encourage use of a drug that is known to cause mental health problems? Why do you support it?

    Well Peter because prohibition doesn’t work, it just drives drug use into the dark corners. As to drug use increasing again the evidence doesn’t support that. An interesting article you might want to read.

    Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001. Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it — Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one. The drugs were still illegal, of course. But now getting caught with them meant a small fine and maybe a referral to a treatment program — not jail time and a criminal record.

    Among Portuguese adults, there are 3 drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range from 10.2 per million in the Netherlands to 44.6 per million in the UK, all the way up to 126.8 per million in Estonia. The EU average is 17.3 per million.

    Perhaps more significantly, the report notes that the use of “legal highs” – like so-called “synthetic” marijuana, “bath salts” and the like – is lower in Portugal than in any of the other countries for which reliable data exists. This makes a lot of intuitive sense: why bother with fake weed or dangerous designer drugs when you can get the real stuff? This is arguably a positive development for public health in the sense that many of the designer drugs that people develop to skirt existing drug laws have terrible and often deadly side effects.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/portugal-decriminalised-drugs-14-years-ago-and-now-hardly-anyone-dies-from-overdosing-10301780.html

  • I used to work with customers officers a long time ago. I once asked if the war on drugs could be won to a senior officer. His reply was “No not while the two worst ones are legal”.

    Are you suggesting we ban alcohol and tobacco Peter?

  • @peter

    “Legalisation would almost certainly lead to significant increases in usage.”

    Actually the report on the US experience quoted above is that this is NOT the case in states that have legalised cannabis
    It MIGHT be that consumption of the most potent forms of cannabis goes down.

    “A drug that is known to cause mental health problems”

    Actually this is not the the view of the American National institute on Drug Abuse, the world’s biggest supporter of research into drug abuse, except for those with particular gene variations.

    “Why does the party want to encourage use of a drug that is known to cause mental health problems?”

    “Encourage” is an emotive ladden word. Equally why should people be criminalised and sent to prison for enjoying a drug that does others virtually no harm ( unlike alcohol) and does them very minor long term harm.

    Adults should be allowed to enjoy whatever “poison” they like – balancing risks and rewards – whether that is alcohol, tobacco, cannabis or indeed cream cakes (may be the most dangerous substance of all!)

    I don’t want to encourage the use of alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis or cream cakes – in fact the complete opposite i want to discourage their use – but I don’t want to send those who enjoy them to prison.

    For real danger check out that most dangerous of chemicals, far too widely used and responsible for many millions of deaths over the years – dihydrogen oxide :)!!!

  • Jenny Barnes 24th Aug '17 - 2:05pm

    the point of making recreational drug use illegal is not to protect the people, heaven forfend. We know, because it’s been tried, that making recreational drugs illegal creates lots of crime, no certainty as to the strength or genuineness of the product, stronger versions of the drug – see the USA’s experience of prohibition of alcohol. Exactly similar to the drug gangs and skunk – and cocaine cut with saniflush – as happens today. No. The real reason is that most low level villains are also associated with the drugs trade, so if you can’t arrest and jail them for what they have really been up to that’s a problem, you can arrest and jail them for the drug offences. It’s quite simple, really.

  • Jenny Barnes 24th Aug '17 - 2:06pm

    PS if we really wanted to sort the prisons out, then everyone who is in just on drugs charges could be released…..

  • Laurence Cox 24th Aug '17 - 2:58pm

    I suggest that the author and commenters watch the Newsbeat debate on legalising cannabis, which aired the evening before this article was posted.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b092sk63/newsbeat-debates-legalising-cannabis

  • Thanks, Laurence, I’ll have a look.

  • The Independent article bases its argument on the reduction of deaths associated with impure drugs, HIV contaminated needles, etc. That result is to be expected. The taxpayer funded stuff would not be expected to give these problems.

    Obviously the death rate is complicated. I would want to know why Estonia is so high.

    If we legalise cannabis and ensure good quality supplies, who is going to pay for that? Let me guess, the taxpayer? I would want to know the extra number of people that are going to be wandering and driving around while stoned.

    The alcohol and tobacco argument is a straw man. We cannot turn back hundreds of years of history. Cannabis is illegal today for good reasons. If we make it legal we will have another tobacco as a minimum and possibly much more serious problems.

  • @Peter

    “If we legalise cannabis and ensure good quality supplies, who is going to pay for that? Let me guess, the taxpayer?”

    That would be paid for by the cannabis users, via the tax on the legal supply.

    “I would want to know the extra number of people that are going to be wandering and driving around while stoned.”

    If you read the report referenced above analysing the experience in the US states that have legalised it, the answer is none.

  • @Peter, who pays to ensure that wine, vodka and beer isn’t topped up with meths?

    The tax raised will more than pay for checking the quality, and doing checks on the quality of products sold under licence is a lot easier than doing checks on the quality of products sold in back alleys. It would be easy enough to restrict the sale of the stronger strains, and keep a ban on the most dangerous ones.

    During American prohibition, people weren’t drinking low alcohol beer, they were drinking dodgy spirits from stills in barns, because when it’s illegal to make and move a product, it makes sense to focus on high strength, low volume stuff. Skunk is the absinthe of the cannabis world, but it’s the strain that the drug dealers are pushing because it gives them better margins.

    And why would people turn up to work stoned? Do you turn up to work drunk? Do you drink and drive? Turning up to work drunk or stoned is already a sackable offence for most of us, and driving whilst stoned will stay illegal. It will remain illegal to sell cannabis to minors, same as it’s illegal to sell them cigarettes and alcohol. Right now the same person selling cannabis to the well informed forty-year-old is also selling to fourteen year olds.

  • I’ve looked at the Newsbeat programme suggested by Laurence. It was really interesting. I was particularly interested in the situation in Portugal where all drugs, I think, including cannabis have been decriminalised for the last 16 years. They view drug taking as a health problem not a criminal one and provide support in keeping with this view.

    Thank you all for your comments and discussion. Good to hear a variety of views.

    In response to Lorenzo Cherin’s 23rd August 9.42pm comment I’d like to say;

    in my piece at the end of my penultimate paragraph I write:

    If we don’t change how we present this policy I do feel it will continue to put some voters off and it will indeed “Shoot Us in the Foot”.

    My view is in accord with Lorenzo’s.

    I’m going to conference so perhaps meet some of you there.

  • @Fiona – At the moment, turning up stoned is not a frequent problem and I doubt if many or any employers worry about it or are experienced in recognising it.

    If being stoned becomes legal, that is a very different prospect.

  • Malcolm Todd 24th Aug '17 - 8:43pm

    Peter – numerous people have, above, referenced research that show there is no evidence that legalisation would result in an increase in use (let alone abuse) of cannabis (or other drugs). Unless and until you actually deal with that point, all your nightmare scenarios of hordes of hitherto reasonable people driving and turning up to work stoned and losing their minds remain just that – your own private nightmare. There just isn’t any good reason to believe that it will happen.

    Incidentally your repeated claims that drug laws are not enforced at the moment are equally without foundation. Note this report from The Independent, which, in the context of a report on a general decrease in prosecutions for possession offences, nevertheless tells us that in just five years (2011-2015) 126,789 people were prosecuted for possession of cannabis.
    Insofar as there has been a change in enforcement – so a tentative move in the direction of the legalised inferno you’re so worried about – where is the evidence that this has resulted in a plague of extra users and increased public danger as a result?

  • I must confess that reports in the Independent and the Guardian ring alarm bells with me. Their track record in other matters show a complete lack of objectivity and scientific integrity.

    However, I am open to being persuaded by comprehensive, validated, documented scientific evidence that the proposals are completely sound in what they claim.

    I am not an expert and cannot verify that we are in that position yet. I would expect government to apply these criteria in any judgement. I am slightly concerned that Lib Dems see this issue through a prism of personal freedom, reduction of legislation and other ideological pressures when in fact, it is a sensible law to limit the use of illegal drugs.

    For these reasons I am against the proposal but would accept it if the weight of evidence became thoroughly convincing.

  • Peter,

    Your playing shoot the messenger because you don’t like the message. Discredit the message by all means but trying to discredit the messenger just discredits you.

  • Frankie,
    Are you referring to the Guardian? They can’t be trusted. There are lots of subjects I know little about but there are one or two about which I know lots. One is nuclear and the Guardian ran a story about Euratom scaring people about medical isotopes.
    Their trick was to begin with “Scientists believe…..” followed by what they must have known was #fakenews. A moment’s thought must show that there are over 190 sovereign states in the UN and only 28 members of Euratom. So what do the others do for cancer treatment?
    So this messenger carries no credit with me. I can only distrust anything else they write.

  • Peter, I’d argue that it is you that sees cannabis through your own prism whereby you assume that cannabis users are a bunch of reprobates, meaning you ignore the evidence that strongly suggests that legalisation will lead to an overall reduction in harm. You demand rock solid proof that it is definitely the case, whilst happy enough to ignore the cast iron evidence that the current system isn’t working.

    And for the record, I’m not a cannabis user. However, I’ve worked in public health and know psychiatrists and medics and people who have worked with addicts, and pretty much all of them think the current laws are not working, and in many cases they think the current laws are part of the problem. We should treat cannabis related problems the same way we treat alcohol related problems.

    Don’t forget the opportunity costs of maintaining prohibition. It’s a huge waste of resources at a time when the police are more stretched than ever. We could use the tax money raised to actually invest in proper support for addicts, and to provide meaningful health education that teenagers might actually trust.

  • Nonconformistradical 25th Aug '17 - 8:05pm

    @Peter

    “I am open to being persuaded by comprehensive, validated, documented scientific evidence that the proposals are completely sound in what they claim.”

    Perhaps it would be helpful if you pointed us to comprehensive, validated, documented scientific evidence supporting your position.

  • Simon Banks 4th Nov '17 - 3:59pm

    The policy arose out of a high-powered commission including one present and one former chief constable. It was extensively debated at conference. There may have been a failure to explain this (difficult: the media isn’t interested) but it did not appear out of thin air and it is at least debatable whether it would lead to any increase in actual cannabis use.

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  • User AvatarPalehorse 19th Nov - 2:55pm
    " Capitalism is fundamentally amoral " You want to try living under one of the other systems before being too harsh. Premier League football is...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 19th Nov - 2:14pm
    @ Arnold Kiel, You are could be right about historic poor governance in the so-called South. But, that's a different issue. It's not the reason...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 19th Nov - 1:34pm
    @ Mary Reid. I agree. Football, at the higher domestic levels, has become a contest between one club's highly paid overseas imports and another's. It...