Cannabis: addiction, public policy, metaphysics

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The Independent Online
From Mr Alan Beith, MP

Sir: Stephen Ward's article on cannabis was misleading in its description of Liberal Democrat views ("Cannabis: the drug we still can't accept", 4 March). The Liberal Democrat Conference voted to refer the issue of whether to decriminalise cannabis possession to a Royal Commission, which would be in a position to weigh the evidence on both sides objectively in a way which, as Mr Ward pointed out, seems impossible in current political debate.

I am not persuaded that the arguments in favour of a change in the law outweigh the dangers of the law appearing to give a signal in favour of the use of cannabis, but with police cautions becoming the normal response to possession offences (or, in Scotland, very small fines) it is ridiculous for the Government to pretend that the issue can be brushed aside.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed

(Lib Dem)

House of Commons

London, SW1

9 March

The writer is the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman.