Orders of the Day — Drugs (Sentencing and Commission of Inquiry) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:21 am on 25th February 2005.

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Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) 11:21 am, 25th February 2005

They are not in front of me, but I will write to the hon. Gentleman, who is right to indicate that there is a significant problem with gun culture, which is often associated with drug use and misuse. There is a cycle involving those in which the causative factor is not clear, which is one reason why we have made such rigorous efforts to deal with the gun menace and to work not just using the criminal justice system but with civil society, including such groups as Mothers Against Guns, to reduce the gun culture often associated with drug culture. I do not, however, share the hon. Gentleman's view—I do not know whether this is his view, but one might read it as being his view—that legalising cannabis would make any contribution to the reduction of that gun culture.

The general principles set out in the ACPO cannabis enforcement guidance are clear. In general, there is a presumption against arrest, but the police can arrest in specific circumstances, including where an adult is smoking cannabis in a public place. As with all policing, it is for the individual officer to judge the most appropriate response to a specific set of circumstances within the overall framework of the guidance. Clearly, where someone is openly flouting the law, they are liable to be arrested, but our main energy is directed to ensuring that our drugs laws reflect the relative harm of drugs, so that the Government can send an effective and credible message to young people about the dangers of the misuse of drugs.