Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Andrew Warwick (DP035)

Introduction

My name is Andrew Warwick I am a UK citizen and a member of the Clear Cannabis law reform group. I have called upon myself to write this submission for the upcoming inquiry into the current drug policy. I am a recreational user of cannabis and feel strongly that the current laws are not working and therefore need to change. Below I have ruled out headings that i think is important to discuss about the current policy.

Is present policy fiscally responsible?

1. At the moment the present policy is a joke. Millions is spent year after year on enforcing drug laws on cannabis which is not a secret as we hear it on the news annually. Still cannabis use increases and the black market makes more money on cannabis than any other drug. By regulating cannabis we would be taking billions from these gangs who run the black market.

2. By legalising and regulating cannabis it would give the UK economy such a boost. The regulation would create hundreds of jobs which is what our economy needs at this moment in time.

3. It would not stop children from getting cannabis but it would make it harder for youths to get their hands on. Such as alcohol is legal but children still can retrieve alcohol.

4. A dealer does not care about giving a youth cannabis all they care about is money. This is how young people get roped into harder drugs because the dealer wants to make more money and pushes these harder drugs onto kids.

5. From the regulation it would give the economy an estimated £6.7 billion per annum. This money could be spent on helping people with drug problems, education, health care the list goes on.

6. From regulation it would save police time and money and therefore they could catch real criminals who damage our communities.

7. The information above was from the clear cannabis regulation plan.1

Is policy grounded in science, health, security and human rights?

8. The current policy is not grounded in science, not on health and most surely not on human rights. By using the NHS “A summary of the health harms of drugs”, “Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids. A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000–11” and an interview from David Cameron as a guideline I can accurately answer this type of question.

9. Not long ago our Prime Minister was asked the question “why is cannabis currently illegal in the UK even though Alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous to our health but we manage to control it. Wouldn’t education on drugs be a better policy” Mr Cameron’s answer was that he agreed with the education part but disagreed with legalisation because cannabis is toxic and causes extreme mental health risks. He also stated that legalisation would make usage rise which is not the case as Portugal has decriminalised cannabis for more than ten years and all of their drug usage has dropped.

10. Also the Netherlands tolerates cannabis and it has shown that their cannabis usage is much less than the UKs particularly among children. Below shows a recent study on cannabis usage within different countries. It shows that the Netherlands has a 4% difference compared to the UK with cannabis use. It also shows that Portugal who had such a massive drug problem has a 6% lower cannabis use than the UK, this shows decriminalisation works.2

11. He was also asked that cannabis can be used to treat cancer and even shrink tumors so why do we not allow medicinal cannabis. Mr Cameron’s answer was that it is the matter of science to deal with it, but science shows us that cannabis usage cannot be overdosed, doesn’t cause cancer and can be used to treat a large number of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, AIDS, depression and Parkinson’s disease the list goes on. Information on medicinal cannabis can be found from my link below:
http://norml.org/pdf_files/NORML_Clinical_Applications_for_Cannabis_and_Cannabinoids.pdf

12. By using the NHS “A summary of the health harms of drugs” we can see that cannabis compared to alcohol, prescription drugs and tobacco is much less dangerous and harmful. Prohibition damages security and also human rights as at the moment there is a six billion pound black market for cannabis which cause problems within our communities from, murders to smuggling people into our country simply to grow cannabis this is a huge problem simply due to the Prohibition of cannabis. The truth is that our drug policy is not made around science, security or human rights or else cannabis growers wouldn’t get a longer jail time as a rapist.

13. If I have one question from this to be read out within the debate I would like it to be:

If we can’t have cannabis used medicinal because it is toxic and dangerous, then why have the US Government been sending cannabis cigarettes to patients over the last 20 years?

The criteria used by the Government to measure the efficacy of its drug policies

14. Personally I don’t think the current policy is working simply because:

15. Usage of cannabis is up and is one of the highest on the world;

16. It makes the black market £6 billion pounds of untaxed money; and

17. People are smuggled into our country simply to grow cannabis this is how much money the drug cartels are making from cannabis.

18. No matter how many raids the police do they will never come close to wiping out cannabis on our streets. The War On Drugs has failed it is time to try something new.

The independence and quality of expert advice which is being given to the government

19. The government is certainly listening to the wrong people. This is simply answered as our drug policy is not made up by using science. The truth is politicians make up our drug laws and they have no education on this subject. It is easy to see the information our government retrieves is wrong and that our drug laws should be implemented through science as it tells the truth about the drugs on our streets.

Whether drug-related policing and expenditure is likely to decrease in line with police budgets and what impact this may have

20. To accurately answer this question I will use the “Taxing the UK Cannabis Market”.3 From this report I can see that £500 million is spent every year on the criminal justice system for cannabis alone, £200 million of this money is spent on police costs to try and take cannabis off our streets.

21. This is a substantial amount of money and it is being used on the war on drugs which has been falling since it started 40 years ago so why waste £1 billion pound every two years on cannabis when the strategy is not working, it has failed it has caused more damage than it’s worth. It’s time for change.

The cost effectiveness of different policies to reduce drug usage

22. The cost to reduce cannabis on the streets is £500 million per year and usage has increased rather than falling. If we look at different policies within different countries that have decriminalised cannabis we can see that cannabis use has decreased rather than increased, it seems that the longer it is illegal the higher the usage percentage rises. These countries include, some states in America, Holland and Portugal so these countries prove that decriminalising cannabis works to lower usage particularly with children as it is harder for them to get. Below shows a recent study within different countries, the percentage of cannabis use within the countries.4

The extent to which public health considerations should play a leading role in developing drugs policy

23. To me health is a major factor of what our drug policy should made from. This is where medicinal cannabis should become a positive factor. There are thousands of people within the UK who have no choice but to use cannabis as their medicine. Yes we can go to our doctor and they can give us a cocktail of medication to treat the illness but these medications that doctors prescribe have some extreme side effects and also it’s not pleasant to take a cocktail of prescriptions drugs.

24. This is when people turn to cannabis and it changes their life, it makes their life worth living, but what happens? Police raid their house for growing their medicine some are fined, giving a criminal record or even sent to prison. Why should this happen to good people who do no harm to their communities, these people have enough problems in their life without the government giving them another. The other problem with this is these patients have to buy their medicine off the street from a dealer and more than likely could be robbed or the cannabis could be contaminated with sprayed glass, mold the list can go on but this is what these people have to use.

25. Below I have giving an example of a video and what it is like to have no choice other than to use cannabis:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RpL9U9xW8U

The relationship between drug and alcohol abuse

26. The relationship between cannabis and alcohol is very similar. Cannabis is a drug, alcohol is a drug, alcohol is extremely addictive in fact it has a higher rate of addiction than cannabis. Also trying to stop addiction from alcohol is much harder, much worse than trying to stop being addicted to cannabis. Being addicted to cannabis is not physically addictive compared to alcohol and tobacco, also trying to kick the habit is much easier compared to any other drug such as alcohol and tobacco.

27. You can overdoes on alcohol and there is thousands of deaths every year but how many from cannabis ever? zero and still it remains as a class B drug and on schedule one which means it has no medicinal elements which we all know is not the case.

28. Around 10% of cannabis users will become addicted which is lower compared to alcohol.

29. Being addicted to alcohol is much worse than cannabis as you can’t contribute to society such as holding down a job but when being addicted to cannabis you can still live a normal life.

The comparative harm and cost of legal and illegal drugs

30. A lot of illegal drugs such as cannabis are much less harmful than legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco so why don’t alcohol and tobacco belong on the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as clearly they cause far more of a “social problem” than cannabis.

The availability of “legal highs” and the challenges associated with adapting the legal framework to deal with new substances

31. Legal highs make a mockery of drugs policy. Knee jerk reactions are made on the basis of Daily Mail stories, not science or medicine. Synthetic cannabinoids are manufactured to try and show that cannabis is a worse drug than it actually is. These synthetic cannabinoids are also treated on animals which is not the same as being used on a human as the effects are different. To me this is propaganda from the government to give cannabis a bad name, it has been the same for many years but people are now hearing the truth of cannabis and these tricks no longer work.

The links between drugs, organised crime and terrorism

32. The cannabis market within the UK is an estimated £6 billion a year, the government has happily handed this market over to the black market and organised crime. These people who grow the cannabis supply poor weed and a lot of the time it is sprayed with glass to make it heavier so they make more money per gram, this causes serious damage to the lungs but for patients who use cannabis and choose to buy it from a dealer they have no choice. Another result of organised crime and cannabis is that organised gangs carry out human trafficking and make these individuals live in a house 24 hours a day seven days a week to grow cannabis this is a huge problem and it is growing rapidly in our communities.

Whether the UK is supporting its global partners effectively and what changes may occur with the introduction of the national crime agency

33. I have only one thing to say on this subject. Other countries make their own laws and are not under instructions from the UN is it not time the UK done the same?

Summary

34. The current policy is failing and the government has handed the cannabis market over to the hands of organised crime these people are making £6 billion a year from cannabis alone while the government spend £500 million a year on preventing cannabis being on our streets, it’s a losing battle.

35. The drug policy is not built around science or human rights as cannabis has major medicinal values and still remains illegal as a class B drug. Human rights are not taking into consideration has human traffickers bring people into the UK just to grow cannabis, these people are treated as slaves.

36. The link between cannabis and legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco are similar the only difference is cannabis is not as dangerous as these drugs but still remains illegal.

January 2012

1 http://clear-uk.org/tax-regulate/

2 www.nationmaster.com/graph/lif_can_use-lifestyle-cannabis-use

3 www.Clear-uk.org

4 http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/lif_can_use-lifestyle-cannabis-use

Prepared 8th December 2012