If cannabis use is legalised and controlled it will save lives, enrich HMRC, create jobs and solve any number of public health and social problems, argues our panel.
Neil Woods is a former policeman, a member of the drug squad, who spent years undercover in drugs gangs, JS Rafaeli is an author and broadcaster who has made a special study of the drugs problem and the criminal environment that surrounds it and Paul North now works in drugs policy having started in the front line as a drugs worker.
Our panel discusses how the passing of the The Misuse of Drugs Act in 1971 created perfect conditions in which drug use, drug related crime, and drug related violence, grew at an astonishing rate, providing the criminal funds which in turn have been invested in other criminal activities. The 'war against drugs', they suggest, has driven the dramatic gowth of the very criminal activities it was intended to stop. Succesive Westminster administrations have presided over an ever worsening situation which is killing people, some of them the very young, and enriching a criminal class that simply didn't exit before the passing of the 1971 Act. On the day our panel met, Scotland recorded the highest number of drugs deaths in the previous year of any country in Europe. In 2017 there were 934 drugs related deaths in Scotland, more than double the number just a decade ago.
Despite the awfulness of the situation, our panel members somehow remain optimistic. As we discussed, some UK Police Authorities are beginning to take matters into their own hands and some nations, including Canada, are beginning to steer a very different course in dealing with their drug problems.