Article by David Davies, Executive Director, PACTS. October 2022
Where are we headed on UK drugs policy and what are the consequences for road safety?
President Biden has pardoned thousands of people in the United States who were charged with possession of marijuana. Since 2001, Canada and many states in the U.S. have legalised or decriminalised cannabis. In Europe, the Netherlands seems have a pretty tolerant approach and other countries are heading that way. Most recently, Germany’s coalition government has agreed on a plan to legalise recreational cannabis use among adults. There are plenty of calls for the UK to take a similar line – to treat cannabis use as a public health issue, rather than a criminal one. The Lib Dems have supported this. The former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police argued against decriminalisation but indicated her support for a public health approach.
At the same time, we have had recent calls from Police and Crime Commissioners for cannabis to be reclassified as a class A drug, recognising that the more innocent weed has been supplanted by skunk – much more powerful and likely to harm. With the return of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary, this seems the more likely route. The road safety community has been closely involved in drug driving issues. However, it has generally stayed out of these wider drug policy debates. Is that now tenable?