Police Scotland’s approach to cannabis has been slammed by experts for not challenging drug use.
It was revealed this week that despite Scottish teenagers being among the most regular cannabis users in Europe, police are increasingly using warnings, rather than referring cases to prosecutors.
Professor Neil McKeganey, Director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research, has described the method as a “massive white flag to Scotland’s drug problem”.
The use of Recorded Police Warnings (RPWs) in Scotland has increased by nine per cent since they were introduced in 2016.
This means that around 500 people caught in possession of the class B drug each month are being let off with just a warning.
The Scottish Government claims that warnings for cannabis possession are a “proportionate” way of dealing with the offences.
However the Centre for Social Justice’s Andy Cook described the policy as “ineffectual”, and said it does nothing to challenge continued drug use.
He also highlighted the “deeply concerning correlation” between frequent cannabis use and mental health issues.
Liam Kerr MSP, the Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, added that cannabis “isn’t a ‘soft drug’” as is often claimed.
Dr Max Pemberton, an NHS psychiatrist, held up Japan as an example of how proper enforcement of drug possession laws can lead to much lower cannabis use.
He added that the UK is playing “Russian roulette” with the mental health of millions.
Recently, a study showed that up to 60,000 cases of adult depression in the UK could have been avoided if teenagers had refrained from smoking cannabis.
Doctors found that using cannabis before the age of 18 increased the chance of developing depression by 37 per cent.
They emphasised that teenagers should stop using the drug, and said greater education is needed for parents who have a relaxed attitude to it.