The new minister in charge of drugs policy has said legalising cannabis needs to be considered alongside other options.
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who previously said cannabis is no more harmful than tobacco or alcohol, made the comments while giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee.
“I think it needs to be considered along with everything else”, Mr Baker said on legalising cannabis.
“It is not my prime objective and I am not advocating it at the moment.
“We should be prepared to follow the evidence and see where it takes us”, he said, according to the Guardian.
When cannabis was downgraded from a Class B drug to Class C in 2004, the move was widely seen as a ‘disaster’.
In the three years after the law in the UK was weakened, the number of cannabis addicts receiving NHS treatment doubled and the number of children aged 15 and under being treated for mental illness surged.
The Labour Government then restored cannabis to a Class B drug in January 2009.
Mr Baker is currently completing a Home Office comparison of international drug policies, including countries with strict and liberal drugs laws.
The UK’s drug death rate is higher than the European average. There are 52.3 deaths per million people while Sweden – which has stricter laws – only has 35.5.
With an annual spend of £1.5 billion on its drugs policy, the Centre for Policy studies is calling for tougher laws from the UK Government.