The Liberal Democrats are calling for cannabis to be legalised.
The political party, which had been part of a coalition government with the Conservatives until May last year, has now made decriminalisation of the class B drug one of its official policies. The decision was made after a vote by members at the party’s spring conference.
Norman Lamb, health spokesman for the Lib Dems, said: “It’s long overdue that we call time on the most discredited, most stupid, most dangerous, so-called ‘war on drugs’. I want this party to lead the way to a new approach, based on evidence, which is liberal, and which protects public health.”
The motion to call for the legalisation of cannabis was opposed by just a handful of members.
Mr Lamb has previously revealed that his son Archie experienced problems with alcohol and drugs and had been blackmailed by someone he had owed money to.
He told the party conference in York: “As a father, I am instinctively hostile to drugs, both legal and illegal. Tobacco kills about 100,000 people in this country every year; alcohol causes untold damage to so many families around our country.”
Decriminalisation could raise millions in tax
But he argued that cannabis should be taken out of the hands of criminals and instead earn up to £1 billion in taxes for the Treasury.
He said: “Do we really think we best protect people by leaving the supply of cannabis in the hands of organised crime? No criminal is interested in your welfare – you have no idea what you’re buying.”
The Lib Dems, led by Tim Farron who has admitted smoking cannabis in the past, want the drug to be sold in regulated shops and clubs.
However, this move by the Lib Dems is unlikely to lead to a change in the law in the near future. At the last general election, the party was reduced to just eight MPs after losing 48 seats in the House of Commons.
They now share the status of the fourth largest political party in the House of Commons with the Democratic Unionist Party, a unionist party in Northern Ireland.
If cannabis is legalised, it could potentially lead to more people using the drug. Many employers are already concerned about their staff coming to work under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
AlphaBiolabs works with a wide variety of organisations to carry out workplace drug testing to monitor substance misuse. As well as carrying out random tests, we test people after incidents to find out if drugs or alcohol were involved.
Drug tests can also be used as part of the recruitment process or to monitor a staff member who has returned to work after a period of absence due to substance misuse.