The Lib Dems have set up an inquiry to find the best way to legalise cannabis

The panel of experts will look at legal weed markets around the world

Jon Stone
Monday 12 October 2015 16:56
Cannabis is legal in many places around the world
Cannabis is legal in many places around the world

The Liberal Democrats have established a panel of experts to draw up proposals for the legalisation of cannabis in the UK, the party has said.

The new committee will examine how legal cannabis markets operate in other countries and see what lessons can be drawn from their operation.

Norman Lamb, the party’s health spokesperson, said current laws “blighted” the lives of young people and needed to be changed.

“We must end the hypocrisy of senior politicians admitting to using cannabis in younger years – and describing it as ‘youthful indiscretions’ – whilst condemning tens of thousands of their less fortunate fellow countrymen and women to criminal records for precisely the same thing, blighting their careers,” he said.

Steve Rolles, from the drugs charity Transform, will chair the panel. Other experts taking part include Sir David Nutt, a former government drug adviser, Niamh Eastwood, of the charity, Release, and former police chief Tom Lloyd.

Sir David was sacked as chair of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs by the Labour government in 2009 after he criticised ministers for allegedly ignoring evidence it had presented them.

Countries and states around the world, including Colorado, Washington and Uruguay, have begun to legalise the use of the substance.

“I share people’s concerns about the health impacts of any drug – legal or illegal. But we can better manage that harm by taking the money that’s currently spent on policing the illegal cannabis market and spending it on public health education and restrictions at the point of sale," Mr Lamb continued.

Monthly marijuana sales in Colorado, where the drug was legalised in 2014, have passed the $100 million for the first time, according to the Denver Post newspaper.

In August $11.2 million were collected in taxes on the substance by the state.

Research by the charity Transform published last week found that there had been no spike in cannabis use by young people in the state since 2005 but a “substantial contraction” in the illicit trade of the substance.

The Liberal Democrats in June called for all drugs to be decriminalised for personal use, tabling amendments to the Government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill.

Decriminalisation for personal use would not equate to full legalisation but would mean someone could not be punished criminally for possessing the drugs.

The party however wants to look at legalisation solutions for Cannabis in particular.

In the United States 23 out of the country’s 50 states currently permit medical cannabis, with more states pending legislation.

The Liberal Democrat 2015 election manifesto contained a slightly less emphatic pledge to ensure that no one arrested for possession of drugs for personal use ended up with a criminal record.

The Government is against legalisation of cannabis and says that scientific evidence shows it is harmful to health.

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