Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has today announced his support for a motion being tabled at the party’s spring conference in March, that calls for the legal regulation of both recreational and medical cannabis.
As The Guardian reports, Farron also criticised the war on drugs, describing it as ‘over’:
“The Liberal Democrats will be releasing a report in due course that lays out the case for a legalised market for sales of cannabis. I personally believe the war on drugs is over. We must move from making this a legal issue to one of health.”
The motion, proposed by former Health Minister Norman Lamb, notes the progressive policies being adopted globally by countries such as Uruguay, certain US states and Canada. Additionally, it notes the economic windfall that would accompany regulation, as was revealed in a Treasury report last year:
That economic analysis of the effect of legalising cannabis has found it could save the public purse £200–300 million per year in the criminal justice system and generate between £400 and £900 million in tax revenue, and that these figures were endorsed by the Treasury in a report commissioned by Liberal Democrat Ministers in the Coalition.
The motion will be supported by an upcoming report by an independent committee set up by the Liberal Democrats in October 2015 to investigate the feasibility of possible models for regulating cannabis that could be adopted in the UK. The committee includes a raft of experts in drug policy, including Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst of Transform, who is chairing the committee, Niamh Eastwood, Director of Release, Prof. David Nutt, former Chair of the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs, and Tom Lloyd, former Cambridgeshire Police Chief.
Recalling the David Cameron’s previous vocal criticism of current drug policies, Farron also excoriated the Prime Minister for his back-pedalling on the issue since his election to the top office:
“The prime minister used to agree with me on the need for drug reform. It’s time he rediscovered his backbone and made the case again.”
The motion will be debated at the Lib Dem spring conference on 12th March, where we will be reporting live.
Words by Henry Fisher