13 Sep Runcorn Drug Raids Re-Spark Cannabis Debate

From the Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News. By Oliver Clay.

LAST week’s crackdown on the alleged sale of cannabis in Runcorn has ignited the debate about how to deal with the drug.

Cllr John Stockton, a candidate for the post of Cheshire police and crime commissioner (PCC), praised the county’s constabulary and called for collaborative work across multiple agencies to tackle it.

However, Peter Reynolds, chairman of cannabis campaign group Clear UK, said a regulated, decriminalised market is the best approach. He also revealed he intends to complain to Cheshire police about claims made by Inspector Gareth Lee regarding the social impact of the Class B substance.

Mr Reynolds highlighted a recent Kings College psychiatry study that concluded that cannabis reduces IQ among users aged under-18, but that report author Professor Terrie Moffit was ‘fairly confident the drug is safe for adults’ in terms of brain function.

Other campaigners also contacted the Weekly News.

However, Cllr Stockton, who will go to the polls on November 15 in a bid to become Cheshire PCC, said he was pleased with the county’s constabulary operation.

He said: “I would like to congratulate Cheshire police. We need a multi-agency response to these issues. If we can stem supply and demand by educating people about the dangers associated with the drug, working with community groups and enforcement agencies in disrupting the supply, then we will continue to make inroads into reversing the levels of usage.”

Peter Reynolds said: “The impact on communities that Inspector Lee refers to is not caused by cannabis but by the laws that prohibit it. Current Government policy is outdated, unscientific and based on prejudice. The harms of prohibition are far worse than the harms of cannabis.”

Cheshire police said the force would not respond to Mr Reynolds due to the ongoing legal case resulting from Operation Gram.