A police chief who said his force is not prioritising cannabis users who grow the drug for their own consumption has been roundly criticised by MPs, the press, campaigners and doctors.
This week Ron Hogg, Police and Crime Commissioner for Durham, said cases where the plants are grown for personal use are “unlikely” to be taken to court.
But he has come under fire for effectively decriminalising cannabis, which can damage mental health and lead to harder substance use.
Liberal elite view
Conservative MP Philip Davies, who is on the Justice Select Committee, said that Hogg is abusing his position, and should try and get elected to Parliament if he wants to change the law.
And fellow Tory MP Andrew Percy said: “We’ve got to start debunking the liberal elite view that cannabis is some sort of benign drug.
“As a teacher, I saw very much how cannabis was a gateway to other, harder drugs.”
Writing for the Daily Mail, Dr Max Pemberton said it is “wholly wrong” for police officers to be “deciding, rather than enforcing, drug policy”.
He added, “when it comes to cannabis, I am resolute in my position: it’s dangerous and should remain illegal. This isn’t borne out of some reactionary, fuddy-duddy stance. It’s based on clear evidence that cannabis ruins lives”.
The Daily Mail also criticised Hogg’s position in an editorial, highlighting that: “Successive governments have concluded that cannabis is extremely hazardous to health and that growing, using, or dealing it should remain illegal.”
The Times said in its editorial that changing the law on drugs should be a matter for Parliament, not “eased through the back door by police”.
The National Drug Prevention Alliance, an anti-drugs campaign group, said: “Giving the green light to effective decriminalisation will only encourage a rise in the illegal growing of cannabis.”
Criminal justice minister Mike Penning MP confirmed that the Government has no plans to weaken cannabis laws, and said that people found growing the drug would face prison sentences.