Thank you for your email and the questions. As my answers overlap I’ll deal with them as a narrative here rather than splitting the answers down into the separate questions. I have actually addressed my approach to drugs in a video on my website at Dealing With Drugs | David Watts (mycouncillor.org.uk). In short my approach to cannabis is that it should be open to GP’s to prescribe, but only after they have had proper training on its use and benefits. I do not support an unregulated cannabis market but I am very conscious that since medical cannabis was legalised only two prescriptions have been made on the NHS. This is simply not achieving what the legislation was designed to do, and so we need to open up the ability to prescribe to all GP’s. However like many drugs (legal and illegal) cannabis can be addictive so it does need to be used with care.
I am not a medical expert and will defer to the views of those who are about what conditions medical cannabis should be licenced for. I won’t therefore say that I will support its use for one particular condition or another as I don’t have the training to make that decision. My approach on all things is that we should use an evidence based approach. Does it work and is it effective? If so then it should be open to doctors to prescribe. Those assessments need to be made by medical professionals and through NICE.
I do not support the unregulated cultivation of cannabis in just the same way that I don’t support the unregulated growing of tobacco or other harmful plants. However if we get the prescription process right that should not be a problem for those who need it for medical use. For this reason I don’t support the community growing of cannabis, but I do want to make sure that we have an effective regulated system instead. Whilst the police have very limited resources it is important that they are targeted at dealing with commercial dealers, not people cultivating a few plants, but those growers need to recognise that this remains against the law and the police cannot simply look the other way if they do come across low volume cannabis cultivation.
With regard to your question about the CPS I think you are confusing the sentencing guidelines and the charging standards (it’s easily done). The problem with the charging standards is that they seem to take away an element of common sense. It is an example of the government trying to micromanage the system rather than trusting professionals to use common sense. There is far too much of this going on. When you refer to “cannabis being a criminal offence” you need to be clearer about what you mean. As I’ve indicated in the video I wouldn’t want the possession of cannabis to be an offence. That is not the case however for the supply of it. I only support the use of cannabis as a medical treatment. I do support the creation of a Royal Commission on drugs to look at all the issues and to provide a coherent approach to what should and should not be legal, again making an evidence based decision.
I do not know how many members of each racial group are medical cannabis users and the approach I support would not discriminate against anyone in that regard. I do know that the criminal justice system has a massive racist bias running through it and I’ve already pledged a zero tolerance approach to that. You can see my pledge at Zero Tolerance On Racism | David Watts (mycouncillor.org.uk).
I appreciate that whilst some of these answers will be what your members are hoping to hear others will not be. However I am not someone who will promise the earth just to get votes. I have an utter commitment to be honest with people, so you are getting my genuine views. I do hope that the community of cannabis users do vote. It’s your country as much as anyone else’s and your votes matter.
My website at www.davidwatts.org.uk contains a lot more information about my beliefs and I hope your members will take the opportunity to visit it.