The enforcement of laws around class B and C drugs has been “pathetically weak” for years and tougher action needs to be taken nationally against cannabis, a police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said.
Alison Hernandez, Conservative PCC for Devon and Cornwall, said too much focus is placed on deaths from class A drugs such as heroin, rather than enforcing the laws around cannabis.
Speaking to journalists at a conference in Westminster, Ms Hernandez said: “Policing and enforcement of drugs and drug dealing in this country has been pathetically weak on class B and class C drugs for years.”
She said police risk assessments look at drug deaths, which means there is a focus on heroin, and pointed out that more people are in treatment centres for cannabis use than other drugs.
“That is alarming. And the fact is that it sort of gets ignored in the threat assessments that policing do, and that’s why we’re trying to influence how the police look at this as a problem,” Ms Hernandez said.
“There’s been too much conversation nationally about the legalisation of cannabis so a lot of people think it already is legal.
“And we want to remind our communities that it’s not and the damage that it causes.”
She is pushing for the classification of cannabis to be reviewed, using data from California where it has been legalised.
“There’s been some real wider impacts on society by even considering the legalisation of it and that’s why we’d like it to be considered in the round with new evidence.”
Chief Constable Trevor Rodenhurst, who is the national lead for regional organised crime units, said: “We go after organised crime and there’s a lot of money to be made in cannabis, a significant amount of it, so that the cannabis threat now manifests itself significantly in homegrown cannabis factories.
“The drug itself is stronger than it’s ever been. And itself is linked to a lot of mental health challenges … and untold harm.”
A crackdown on cannabis farms in July across England and Wales saw 1,000 illegal growing sites raided and more than 1,000 people arrested.
Police argue that crime gangs involved in cannabis production are also responsible for other crimes including Class A drug smuggling, modern slavery and violence and exploitation.