Cannabis convictions down by 59 per cent in Devon and Cornwall

News Politics

Some progress in the conviction rates for cannabis possession has been seen in Devon and Cornwall, falling from 59% in 2017 compared to 2012. According to the Ministry of Justice, 142 people were found guilty of possession in 2012, compared to 342 people in 2012.

Of those successfully prosecuted by Devon and Cornwall Police in 2017, 103 were given a fine or discharge, while three received prison sentences. Cannabis possession charges made up 22% of the total drugs possession offences Devon and Cornwall Police prosecuted in court.

The decline is the result of a reduction in the use of stop and search taken by Devon and Cornwall police.

However, over 50% of all stop and searches still focus on cannabis possession, and huge disparities in how drugs are policed remain across the country.

Commenting to UKCSC, Jason Reed, Executive Director LEAP UK (Law Enforcement Action Partnership), said: “It’s interesting to see how police forces across England and Wales are taking a lead in progressive policies and stances around cannabis. This week we saw Chief Constable Mike Barton and PCVC Ron Hogg of Durham both go on record to say they support regulating the cannabis market as a way to solve the many problems that come with prohibition.

“The resources and financial arguments for changing the way we deal with cannabis is going to to be a key factor in the national dialogue. The police are being asked to do more, with much less, so these circumstances inevitably result in changing the way we deal with cannabis possession.

“The Police Federation also voted to reexamine our drug policy. This is hugely significant; this indicates that those who are tasked with policing the streets have a clear understanding of how drug law reform works in practice.

“Although we may see some forces maintain the current policy and still seek to enforce the letter of the law, it’s clear to see that more and more in the police are likely to grasp progressive initiatives from this point on.”

 

Jason Reed, LEAP UK

 

Ben Grout, an activist from Plymouth Cannabis Club and the Care In Canna patient collective in Devon, told UKCSC: “From my personal view it feels safer and a lot more people opening up down here. Saying that, the police still targeted an OAP down here, although he did grow in large quantaties.

“Patients-wise our MS patients are working on our counsel members’ ATM. One already want to try balm for artists.

“I don’t see a lot of changes with arrests as it’s always the same few people I know that get done. It’s hard to judge as I keep with people that have the same mindset as me who don’t deal.”
 
Cornwall was the scene of tragedy in 2013 when 17-year-old Edward Thornber committed suicide after he was summoned to court for possessing cannabis worth 50p. The case showed why prohibition does not protect teenagers. With a regulated supply and age ID, Thornber, who dreamed of pursuing a lacrosse career in the US, would never have been subjected to any kind of attention from the police and would not have had to worry about the stigma of being caught with cannabis.
 


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