“Judge Vows To Put Anyone Growing Cannabis Immediately Behind Bars”
SHEFFIELD’S top judge has issued a stark warning to anyone caught growing cannabis in South Yorkshire – immediate prison awaits.
“Cannabis is a dangerous drug and those who bring it into existence must be punished.”
I have written to Judge Goldsack and also to the Sheffield newspapers.
I am writing to you concerning your recent statements about cannabis as published in the Sheffield Telegraph and The Star.
With great respect, you are entitled to pass judgement in court in accordance with the law and you are also entitled to your own opinions. However, on the question of “cannabis is a dangerous drug”, this is neither a matter of law nor of opinion. It is determined by scientific evidence and, quite clearly, cannabis cannot accurately be described as “dangerous”.
Professor Les Iversen, chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the government’s chief drugs advisor is on the record repeatedly describing cannabis as “safe”. A recent published analysis of hospital admissions, mortality, toxicity and propensity to psychosis showed cannabis as nearly 3000 times safer than alcohol. The therapeutic ratio of cannabis (the ratio of effective dose to lethal dose) is 1:20000. In comparison, alcohol is 1:20, paracetamol 1:35, many prescription medicines are less than 1:5.
The law is clear. The Court of Appeal guidance is clear. You will be aware that the Sentencing Council will publish new drug offences guidelines in October . However, you do have discretion and there are many, many different types of cannabis growers.
Even where commercial gain is the objective I still find it difficult to understand how growing cannabis can routinely be treated more severely than violent assault or crimes of paedophilia. This is a real loss of proportionality in our judicial system. However, where, as in many cases, cannabis is grown for personal and private consumption, often for medicinal purposes, it is an affront to natural justice that a severe penalty can be imposed, let alone the travesty of common sense that prison amounts to.
Research published only this month shows that approximately three tonnes of cannabis is consumed in Britain every day. The demand is colossal and prohibition has been an expensive failure. A tax and regulate policy would contribute a net £6.7 billion per annum to the UK exchequer and massively reduce all health and social harms. The law is the law as it stands but inevitably, change is on the way. Science, medicine and economics demand it.
I appeal to you to be merciful to those who grow cannabis for their personal and private use and to discharge completely anyone who needs it as medicine. There are now hundreds of peer reviewed, scientific studies that prove how effective it is for many chronic conditions.
I am grateful for being able to bring these points to your attention.