Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Andy Dove (DP037)

Hello, my name is Andrew and I am an electrician living in Portsmouth and would like to voice my opinion on the up-coming current drug policy debate, due to be held in parliament in the near future.

My main cause of interest in this debate is about cannabis policy reform, I believe that we should be moving towards a more European stance instead of continuing with our current, failing, prohibition laws.

As past decades have shown and proven, the current prohibition laws have/are making the situation far worse.

I agree that you need a form of policing the matter, but in creating criminals out of normally law abiding citizens and potentially ruining any career opportunities over convictions due to small amounts of cannabis for personal use, is not the best or only way of dealing with this issue.

The best way to police this would be through regulation, licensing and taxation of any person(s) entering into a business concerning the use/sale of cannabis, and to make it possible for persons to grow from 1–3 plants at their place of residence if they so choose.

The Netherlands have proved this to be a successful way in harm reduction to the buyer, instead of dealing with possible violence from a backstreet drug pusher where the risk of being associated with harder drugs may increase significantly.

Several European countries including Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Poland, to name few, have relaxed their policy towards cannabis as they too have realised that prohibition is more damaging than good. This has resulted in decriminalisation for personal use and for growing up to three plants at a place of residence.

America, famed for its hard-line, zero tolerance on drugs, has also recently seen virtually a quarter of its states legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes as it has been medically and scientifically proven that it helps many sufferers, of many illnesses, of many ages to relieve or to ease the daily pains of their conditions that pharmaceutical drugs just cannot do without the many nasty side-effects that come with them.

The British government are supposed to be protecting our civil rights instead of being blind-sighted by prehistoric, unfounded propaganda from the “reefer madness” era.

I agree that you cannot hide from some of the information that says there is a link between cannabis and some mental health issues, this is a factor that is apparent in all drug use, be it cannabis, LSD, heroin or even alcohol.

You don’t see the government prohibiting alcohol even though there are people who commit domestic violence when they come home drunk or after thousands and thousands of people have lost their lives through a drink driving accident of some sort.

Alcohol is the most widely used drug by most of the people in the UK, every weekend, across the UK, our A&E departments are filled with people who have hurt themselves whilst out drinking or have been fighting due to being drunk.

The police spend thousands of pounds every month dealing with drunken disturbances, criminal damage and violent conduct, all due to alcohol related issues.

Cannabis has never caused a single death from being consumed in any way, compared to the thousands that die every year from alcohol poisoning.

Cannabis users are not violent as it is a more relaxing and creative effect that it has over the user, instead of the “stimulant” effect that other drugs produce, for example, Cocaine and alcohol induce loud, erratic and destructive behaviour.

I cannot see why the British government rejected Professor David Nutt’s recent, scientific findings into current drug research that was paid for by the government, for the government.

If the government legalised cannabis just for medicinal purposes, the financial rewards would be greatly welcomed. In America alone Viagra grossed around $1.4 billion in 2010, medical cannabis grossed $1.2 billion. This $1.2 billion is a lot and it’s made even bigger when you realise that there are 25 million Americans that are eligible to use medicinal cannabis, and only 750,000 of them have actually applied for their medicinal permit an exercise their right to use it.

The police would be able to concentrate on the hard drugs and the organised crime that comes with it, as large sections of the police force look at cannabis use as a minor infraction and are content with “turning a blind eye”.

As I stated earlier, cannabis users are non violent and generally easy going people, because of our current laws these people have no other option than to go to someone of a lower, moral class to obtain a piece of a plant. Many people have been beaten up by their dealer and had their money and cannabis taken off them as they know that the victim cannot go to the police because they themselves, have committed a crime in obtaining the cannabis in the first place.

We should all be working together to fight the common criminals and terrorists, not each other over a plant that has brought peace, pain relief and happiness to millions and millions of people for thousands and thousands of years, not just the last 100 years.

Thank you for your time, a response would be appreciated greatly.

January 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012