Police forces across England have been accused of turning a blind eye to cannabis users despite increasing evidence of its harm.
The number of charges for those caught producing the drug has dropped to as low as ten per cent in some areas, according to a Daily Mail investigation.
It comes as new figures for Scotland reveal that the number of drug-related hospital admissions for cannabis has reached record levels.
Cannabis is linked to depression and violent behaviour.
Repeated studies show that smoking the drug regularly doubles the likelihood of psychosis. The dangers of cannabis have increased in recent years as high potency forms known as skunk become more common.
But a Freedom of Information request revealed that on average just 22 per cent of cannabis offences in England in 2018 led to a criminal charge.
In some areas it was also found that nine in ten cannabis offenders are being let off without a criminal charge, whilst many others escape with a simple fine or warning.
David Green, Director of think-tank Civitas, said: “Many police leaders want to legalise cannabis. Some are openly in favour of changing the law, while others turn a blind eye.”
“The tragedy is that they are doing so at a time when doctors are increasingly worried about the impact on the mental health of cannabis users, and especially our young people.”
New statistics for Scotland show that one in eight drug-related hospital admissions are now caused by the Class B drug.
Figures for 2017-18 show that 1,689 people were taken to hospital suffering psychological effects of cannabis – an average of 32 people per week. Admissions included 33 children aged 14 or younger.
Scottish public health spokesperson Annie Wells MSP said: “This exposes claims that cannabis is a harmless drug as nonsense. There is now evidence of dozens of hospital admissions every week as a direct result of people taking cannabis.
“These are individuals whose lives are being destroyed by a drug that too many people want to see normalised.”