Police Boss Calls For Prisoners To Be Given Cannabis To Treat Addiction
The North Wales Police Commissioner believes prisoners should be given cannabis to help tackle addiction and violence.
Arfon Jones, who currently heads up the force but will be standing down in May, said he would like to implement a pilot programme after a recent report showed that 13% of men in UK prisons had developed a problem with illicit drugs since being incarcerated.
The report, published by Swansea University’s Global Drug Policy Observatory, also revealed that 52% of prisoners believe it is easy to get illegal drugs.
Jones told BBC News that drug problems in prisons should be a key concern and that authorities should focus on ‘addressing the causes’ of addiction and violence.
In recent years there has been a rise in the use of synthetic psychoactive drugs such as Spice. The drug is described as ‘the most serious threat to the safety and security of the prison system’.
Jones said he was also concerned about the level of prescription painkillers being given to prisoners, including opioid-based drugs.
‘If they are on opioids, why can’t they be prescribed cannabis? Opioids are a damn sight more dangerous than cannabis. Let’s supply cannabis in controlled conditions and see if offences reduce,’ he said.
Jones has been a long-standing campaigner on issues surrounding drug use in prisons. He previously said it was a ‘national scandal’ that people are ‘dying needlessly’ because the government refuses to acknowledge that a ‘radical new approach to drug policy’ is needed.
However, his latest push has been met with criticism. Both Labour and Tory candidates in the running to take his post in May have rebuked the idea.
Tory candidate Pat Astbury said there may be other ways to treat prisoners, using alternative medicines which are legal and mimic illegal drugs but ‘one can’t be seen to break the law at the expense of the force you are representing’.
Labour’s Andy Dunbobbin said the biggest issue was ‘not drugs in prison’ but rather ‘drugs in society’, and called for ‘decimated’ drug, alcohol and mental health service cuts to be reversed.
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