Give prisoners cannabis, says police chief

CANNABIS should be given to prisoners to help them deal with addiction and curb violence in prisons, a top police commissioner has recommended.

Arfan Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for North Wales, is now urging the government to look at trialling the scheme to see if it could have a positive effect on the rise of illicit drug use in the prison system.

Mr Jones’ call relates to a report produced by the Global Drug Policy Observatory based at Swansea University which found that more than 13 per cent of UK prisoners develop drug problems behind bars.

It also revealed that most of the drugs used in prisons were synthetic and psychoactive, often leading to addiction and violence. Mr Jones, who is leaving office in May, believes access to cannabis, as an organic and non-addictive alternative, could address the problem.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has, recently, raised several concerns about the availability of synthetic drugs like ‘spice’ – an increasingly popular psychoactive drug described as “the most serious threat to the safety and security of the prison system”.

Mr Jones raised further concerns about prescribed, opioid-based painkillers.

“If they are on opioids, why can’t they be prescribed cannabis?” he asked during a BBC interview.

“Opioids are a damn sight more dangerous than cannabis. Let’s supply cannabis in controlled conditions and see if offences reduce.”

The call for cannabis use, however, has been ridiculed by potential incumbents to the role.

Pat Astbury, Conservative candidate for the role said it would be wrong to “break the law at the expense of the force you are representing”, while Labour candidate Andy Dunbobbin said drug use was not a way to “prevent problematic drug use”.