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Police waste one million hours enforcing weed ban

Weed forests, Legoland hideaways and your dealer who hangs outside Asda

British police are wasting one million hours every year enforcing the ban on cannabis, according to research by the Liberal Democrats.

As the Independent reports, official figures highlighted a total of 87,247 police cases related to marijuana opened in 2015. This costs the taxpayer £2,256 per case.

Across 1,044,180 police hours, £31million was approximately spent.

On Friday, the Liberal Democrats announced a pledge to legalise cannabis and see the creation of a regulated market in their manifesto. The party has similar ideas to policy implemented in U.S states like Colorado. The Canadian government is currently working on legislation that would see in the legalisation of recreational marijuana by July 1 2018, making it the first G7 country to fully legalise usage.

Though it’s rarely been enforced, as a class B drug, cannabis possession can lead to five years in prison, with dealers getting up to 14 years in the UK.

A Freedom of Information request last year found that throughout England and Wales, arrests for cannabis possession dropped by 46 percent since 2010.

Julian Huppert, from the Home Affairs Select Committee, described cannabis as “freely available and widely used”. He said it causes “significant health problems, and vast profits for organised crime.” 

“The current approach is a disaster for young people, whose mental and physical health is being harmed by an increasingly potent product. There are no age checks, and no controls on quality or strength,” he added. ‘Skunk’ is widespread and the only ID you need to buy it is a £20 note.

“Successive governments have ceded total control of a significant public health problem to organised crime. The honest and pragmatic response is to take responsibility for this situation and regulate the market. 

“Liberal Democrats will take back control from the criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis,” Huppert continued. “We will restrict the market to over-18s. We will make cannabis safer by limiting THC content and requiring all products to contain CBD, which has been bred out of ‘skunk’ and counteracts the harmful effects of THC. And we will invest tax revenues of up to £1bn in education and treatment.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, a UK government regulator, looked into the beneficial effects of cannabis after meeting with CBD vaporiser company MediPen. Research found that cannabis actually does have medicinal qualities.

This year, a secret farm with over 50 cannabis plants was uncovered inside a cottage in Legoland Windsor, while routine asbestos checks took place. Two men were arrested. In 2015, police uncovered a ‘football pitch-sized’ weed forest in Kingston, London, though the cultivators were never caught.