I would just like to make it clear that as PCC, I wouldn’t directly have the power to change the laws on cannabis, or any other drug; that is for MPs. My job is to reduce the crime rate and help create a safe community- I would seek to explore how we can direct resources towards tackling the violent and exploitative practices of organised crime (such as ‘county lines’), and focus on treating the harm done by drugs to some users as a public health issue. It is necessary to focus on and tackle the wider social implications of why drugs may lead to crime. With this being said, all votes are very important and we encourage cannabis users to vote in the upcoming elections as it is something that impacts their lives and may impact their use of the substance. These are my thoughts on your questions:
Do you agree that Black and Ethnic Minorities are unfairly penalised through Cannabis law?
I do agree and, I believe it to be true as there is much evidence supporting this. More black people were prosecuted for cannabis possession than supply of Class A or B substances combined in 2017, the balance was reversed for white people. Black and Asian people were convicted of cannabis possession at 11.8 and 2.4 times the rate white people despite their lower rates of self-reported use.
Do you know how many Black and Ethnic Minorities members of the community are Medical Cannabis patients?
Not enough! The criminalisation of cannabis has inhibited access to medicinal use. This is because there is a lack of research and regulation, doctors are still very wary of prescribing it.
Do you agree with the Canadian model of being able to convert a medical Cannabis prescription into a license to grow your own medical Cannabis?
I agree with the concept of the model and think that it could be very beneficial for the medicinal cannabis users in Canada. One of the main perks of medicinal cannabis is that it is a naturally growing substance and therefore can prevent a medicinal monopoly- allowing people of lower economic means to access healthcare. We support the decriminalisation of the cultivation of cannabis, in a green government, using cannabis social clubs which will be community-based, non-profit organisations that can cultivate and regulate their own crops. This will also be for the benefit of medicinal and recreational users to exchange information and advice on safer use.
How do you feel about Cannabis being prescribed for non documented stress conditions?
Many studies have shown that cannabis use combats stress and anxiety however, many people argue that it is often a cause of mental health conditions. Through a process of legalisation and regulation, the substance can be controlled to ensure that it will only have positive effects on the health of medicinal users and therefore would be an adequate medicine for undocumented stress.
How do you feel about Medical Cannabis only being available to prescribe by a GMC registered Consultant rather than a GP?
The Green Party believes that herbal cannabis should be government regulated and available by prescription from the NHS- GP’s will be an integral part of this system and therefore will be able to prescribe cannabis. Currently, this system of GMC registered consultants is used due to the criminalisation of cannabis and therefore it must be monitored closely with an extra level of clearance to ensure it is being prescribed properly. Ending the prohibition of cannabis will allow for a less stringent approach and greater access through GP’s.
Do you believe that Cannabis should continue to be a criminal offense, or should it now be a civil offense?
I believe that the profit from cannabis sales should be a civil offense- taking a public health approach to ultimately tackle the harmful aspects of the drug trade. In terms of consumption and production for own consumption, I believe there should be no offence. Since 2000, many governments in the world have decriminalised or legalised cannabis, with little evidence of increased use or harmful effects to the population, and generally positive health and social outcomes. Cannabis has a long history of use as a medicine.
How do you feel about the new CPS sentencing guidelines that have reduced the number of home grown plants from 9 to 7 before a greater offense is considered?
It is certainly moving in the opposite direction from what I would try to implement as it essentially strengthens the criminality of cannabis. As PCC I would look to focus on the social aspects of the harm associated with large scale cannabis growth i.e. there would be a lesser focus on the amount of cannabis plants and, more on the socio-economic dangers related with drug trade such as ‘county lines’.
If you are elected, will you work with your Chief Constable to reduce the number of raids on residents’ homes for growing cannabis for personal use?
The Green Party supports the decriminalisation of cannabis and although it is still illegal, I will work to change the priorities of the police force. This means less focus will be placed on the prosecution of cannabis and more on the prevention of other crime, I believe the police force needs to be more preventative than prosecutorial.
How do you feel your force should respond to community-based Cannabis clubs that grow affordable medical cannabis for those that cannot afford the private clinic, privately funded route to Medicinal Cannabis?
It is clear that in Britain there is beginning to be a monopoly on medicinal cannabis, it is very difficult to get a prescription from the NHS and the alternative is excessively expensive. With this being said, under our current government, cultivating cannabis is illegal and without regulation of the substance it could have greater detriment than benefits. However, there should be greater emphasis placed on alternative routes to prescriptions as it is clear that is being used for profit, this will happen as societal attitudes change.
What do you believe is the future of Policing Cannabis in the UK during your possible term as a PCC?
I would like to see greater emphasis placed on education of all drugs and the associated harms- adults should be free to make their own decisions about recreational drugs. Through education, it is possible to change attitudes and remove the stigma around cannabis. In addition, our police force is seriously understaffed as a result of over a decade of Tory austerity, we have to prioritise what we see as a genuine crime and use our police to respond to this. Policing cannabis should receive little attention if it is not related to criminal activity.
I hope that my answers can secure yours and many other votes for PCC on May 6th as I am bringing forth real solutions to real problems that other candidates are not recognising. Thanks again for your email.