The UK Liberal Democrats have declared[pdf, p63] their party's commitment to shifting the focus of drug policy in the UK from a criminal justice matter to a public health matter. Their 100 page manifesto, published on 20 November 2019, says that "prohibitionist attitude to drug use" by the Labour and Conservative party "over decades" has been "driven by fear rather than evidence". The result, the Lib Dems say, is that governments of both parties have, "failed to tackle the social and medical problems that misuse of drugs can cause to individuals and their communities".
In 2018 an investigation by Sputnik examined whether criminalisation of cannabis contributes to criminality. It noted that many parts of the United Kingdom and wider Europe, "have been scarred by the pains of deindustrialisation" and suffer from widespread drug abuse. One such area is Swansea, in Wales, which suffers from high opiate use.
In October last year a heroin addict named Jonathan Donne, was convicted in of murdering pensioner Jack Williams who grew cannabis in his flat. "You can't report your weed being stolen because you would be arrested yourself. They don't get protected or feel safe and people say they are criminals", Jamie Harris, the Service Manager with the Swansea drugs charity, Barod told Sputnik.
"Many crimes affecting drug users are massively under-reported. People are being assaulted, sexually assaulted or taxed", he explained.
The Lib Dems say that they will, "reform access to cannabis through a regulated cannabis market in UK, with a robust approach to licensing, drawing on emerging evidence on models from the US and Canada".
Furthermore, people arrested for possession of drugs will be 'diverted' into treatment and face, "civil penalties rather than imprisonment", the manifesto says. The Lib Dems argue that these policies, which include moving the head of drug policy to the Department of Health and Social Care so as to focus on, "investment in more addiction services and support for drug users", will help "break the grip" of the criminal gangs. They pledge to introduce an age requirement to purchase the drug from the age of 18 and cease prosecutions of people who use cannabis for medical purposes, such as pain relief for cancer sufferers.
In 2016 Professor Steven Pudney, from the University of Essex, conducted a detailed investigation into the potential consequences of "licensing and regulation of a cannabis market". He said the purpose was to, "serve as the start of a better debate on cannabis policy". The preliminary finding found in favour of regulation, "but in a modest way". His results suggested that, "there is no “killer fact” which serves as an unanswerable argument against licensing and regulation".