Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Tom Longland (DP068)

1. I am a 31 year old male from South West London, I am currently in employment for a large consumer electronics company and have been with them for over 10 years.

2. I welcome the enquiry into drugs and feel that now is the time for a change in government policy. I am a member of the Clear (Cannabis Law Reform) party so my answers to the listed questions will mainly refer to cannabis.

Is present policy fiscally responsible?

3. Millions of pounds and police hours are wasted each year combating a victimless crime like drug possession. I would like to see this money being put to better use elsewhere. Please refer to the IDMU report Taxing the UK Cannabis Market which is a report commissioned by the Clear Political party.

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

4. The currently policy does not reflect the above. Cannabis is far less harmful compared to legal drugs like alcohol, tobacco and even energy drinks. Prohibition on cannabis creates a £6 billion market that is handed over to criminal (both local and international) gangs.

5. A quick search on the Internet shows overwhelming evidence on how effective cannabis is a medicine for illnesses like MS, Crohn’s disease and many more. Our current policies restrict the crucial research and treatment using the amazing medical properties of the cannabis plant. Please refer to NORML web page on recent research to medical marijuana named: “Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids”.

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

6. I believe the government’s current Cannabis policy is out of date and out of touch. It looks to me that it is based on false political propaganda which hasn’t changed much since the 1920s. Policy should be based on science and not fear.

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

7. The government can listen to expert advice but they may not take it. This is clear after the sacking of Professor David Nutt a few years ago when Labour were in power. He presented the science showing low risk for cannabis and the government still chose to raise it to a class B drug. In my opinion this was very wrong indeed.

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

8. Over £500 million is spent every year with £200 million of that on police costs for cannabis alone (IDMU report). This is an insane amount of money wasted on a drug with very little harm. Police budgets are already at full stretch, they should not be putting any resources into this.

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

9. I would say that health is an important consideration but it should not interfere with a persons right of choice unless it causes a social problem of some kind.

The relationship between drug and alcohol abuse

10. Alcohol is a drug, we should not separate or treat it differently from others. I see alcohol as potentially dangerous and harmful. It causes more social harm than any illegal drug.

The comparative harm and cost of legal and illegal drugs

11. Under law, it is people’s actions with drugs that are illegal and not the drugs themselves, they are neither “legal” or “illegal”. Why are current legal drugs not included in the Misuse of drugs act? They clearly cause the most “social problem” in society, most “illegal” drugs in comparison cause much less harm.

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

12. The “legal highs” make a mockery out of current drugs policy as scare stories from papers such as the Daily Mail would be the cause of any policy change and not science. Replicating cannabinoids to avoid the law to have a similar effect to cannabis are proving to be more dangerous than “the real thing” itself.

The links between drugs, organised crime and terrorism

13. The cannabis market is worth at least £6 billion annually which is currently in the hands of organised crime. Illegal cannabis farms up and down the UK often produce poor quality weed and it is common for children to be involved in human trafficking working as “farmers”. It is those Children who end up in prison for drug related crimes when they should be looked after and returned to their families. The kingpins at the top just move on to the next location and remain untouched. We have to take this money out of the hand of criminals and put it directly back into the British economy.

Whether detailed consideration ought to be given to alternative ways of tackling the drugs dilemma, as recommended by the Select Committee in 2002 (The Government’s Drugs Policy: Is It Working?, HC 318, 2001–02) and the Justice Committee’s 2010 Report on justice reinvestment (Cutting crime: the case for justice reinvestment, HC 94, 2009–10)

14. In my opinion, the way to handle drugs policy is to firstly treat both “illegal” and “legal” drugs in the same way. Look at them equally, compare their harms both medically and socially and then look at how to regulate them.

15. A regulated system should be put into place with restrictions on the most medically dangerous drugs such as heroin. The government has a responsibility to help those in need of rehabilitation and users of those drugs should be classed as “patients” and not “criminals”. Users should be able to seek help from the NHS without fear of discrimination or criminal punishment.

16. In regards to Cannabis regulation, it should be regulated similar to alcohol with age and marketing restrictions etc.


17. In my view, Prohibition has been a massive failure from the start. The mistakes from the past with the banning of alcohol in the US should have been a warning for Britain all those years ago that Prohibition simply does not work.

18. Under a regulated system, the UK would benefit from the huge cost savings by police (£500 million) and the tax made from the sale of cannabis (at least £6 billion pa) and its various licences (commercial/personal). The number of jobs that could be created and the tax revenue generated from them would be more than any other scheme the government are looking at to do.

19. I also believe that is so important we open up research for medical cannabis. Scientists have only just scratched the surface and have already found multiple uses for it. For Cannabis to reach its full potential medically, it must be legalised.

20. I hope to see one day, the NHS replacing expensive toxic pills made by pharmaceutical companies and replace with cannabis products similar to those being used in California.

21. We in the UK live in a very diverse community with people of all races, up-bringing and beliefs. We have made great progress clearing racism and sexism from society and now it is time to clear drug discrimination.

22. Finally, I wish to thank the Home Office for giving the public the opportunity to express our views to the committee.


Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids

IDMU report “Taxing the UK Cannabis Market”

January 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012