The Lib Dems have today pledged to legalise cannabis in an attempt to deal with the mental and physical health impacts of the drug.
Tim Farron’s party will include in its general election manifesto a promise to introduce a “legal, regulated market” for cannabis.
The party said this would “take back control” from criminal gangs and protect young people.
Julian Huppert, the former Lib Dem MP who is hoping to recapture his old Cambridge seat on June 8, said cannabis was already freely available and widely used.
“It generates significant health problems and vast profits for organised crime,” he said.
“The current approach is a disaster for young people, whose mental and physical health is being harmed by an increasingly potent product. There are no age checks, and no controls on quality or strength. ‘Skunk’ is widespread and the only ID you need to buy it is a £20 note.
“Successive governments have ceded total control of a significant public health problem to organised crime.
“The honest and pragmatic response is to take responsibility for this situation and regulate the market.
“Liberal Democrats will take back control from the criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis.
“We will restrict the market to over-18s. We will make cannabis safer by limiting THC content and requiring all products to contain CBD, which has been bred out of ‘skunk’ and counteracts the harmful effects of THC. And we will invest tax revenues of up to £1bn in education and treatment.”
Last year Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb introduced a Bill in the Commons aimed at leagalising cannabis.
During the debate, he accused then prime minister David Cameron of being hypocrite for opposing the legalisation of cannabis having smoked the drug himself.
“How many members of this government have smoked cannabis whilst maintaining their support for the conviction of their fellow citizens?” he asked.
The Lib Dem manifesto will promise:
“[We will] break the grip of the criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis. We would introduce limits on potency and permit cannabis to be sold through licensed outlets to adults over the age of 18.”