Shops should be allowed to sell cannabis, the Liberal Democrats have said as they became the first party in the UK to officially support the legalisation of the drug.
Party members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the policy at its spring conference in York yesterday.
The Lib Dems claim that legalising the sale of cannabis would boost the economy by around £1billion through taxing the sale of the drug, with the global industry estimated to be worth a staggering £200billion.
And the party said the move would also cut drug-related crime, which would also help cut costs to the taxpayer.
The move would see shops being granted licenses to sell cannabis in plain packaging with health warnings – similar to cigarette packages.
Households would also be allowed to grow marijuana at home for personal consumption.
It comes after former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg held talks with a US firm that sells cannabis last week over efforts to soften drugs laws in the UK.
The relaxation of cannabis in the US has led to marijuana plants being grown at farms – including at the Seaof Green Farms growing facility in Seattle, Wasington (pictured). The global cannabis industry is estimated to be worth around £200billion
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said the prohibition on cannabis has failed and said it was now time to explore ways of legalising the industry.
The party’s new policy is based on a review of soft drugs by the former mental health minister Norman Lamb, who was one of the eight Lib Dem MPs who survived last May’s General Election.
It has been based on policy changes in north America, where four states have already relaxed laws and another ten are expected to decriminalise next year.
Mr Clegg met with representatives from a US investment fund that has a 30-year deal to sell cannabis under the brand name of the reggae star Bob Marley in a bid by the American company to sign him up to the campaign for liberalising drugs law in Britain.
A spokesman for Mr Clegg said: ‘This was an informal meeting to discuss a policy issue that Nick is very interested in.’
Colorado became the first state to legalise the sale of the drug in 2014 and experts have predicted a huge boom in the cannabis industry following liberalising of the law in three other states and similar moves in Canada.
After his policy was overwhelmingly backed by Lib Dem delegates yesterday, Mr Lamb, the party’s health spokesman, said: ‘The war on drugs has been a catastrophic failure. When people buy cannabis from criminals, they have no idea what they are buying.
‘So regulation the sale of cannabis… makes sense in terms of public health and community safety.’
The party’s panel on the review on drug laws included Mike Barton, Chief Constable, Durham Constabulary, Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director, Release and Tom Lloyd, Chair of the National Cannabis Coalition and former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police.
Professor David Nutt, the former Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs was on the committee, joined by Professor Harry Sumnall, Liverpool John Moores University, and Professor Fiona Measham, Durham University.
Lib Dems call for major overhaul of business taxes to stop global giants like Google and Facebook ripping off the taxpayer at the expense of small firms
Business taxes must be reformed to stop global giants like Google and Facebook negotiating sweetheart deals while small firms are left struggling, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said today.
In his speech to the Lib Dem party conference in York, he accused the Government of ‘fawning’ over big business as independent companies are being hit with rates they can barely afford.
He is bringing in former business secretary Vince Cable to lead an expert panel looking at ways to ‘radically reform’ business taxation.
At the party’s spring conference in York, Mr Farron said: ‘Communities thrive when enterprise and small business can thrive. But far too often the cards are stacked against them.
‘We currently have a broken tax system that allows Google and Facebook to negotiate for months, yet small businesses can’t even get through on the phone.
‘It’s time we transformed the way we treat small business in this country. Instead of Government fawning over the conglomerates, and getting to small business later, how about putting small business at the centre of our business economy.’
Mr Farron will also claim the UK is at an economic crossroads and accuse Chancellor George Osborne of planning ‘unnecessary’ cuts in the Budget next week.
‘We have already heard that more cuts are coming our way,’ he will say.
‘George Osborne’s approach to a budget is political theatre. It’s about politics, headlines and calculated positioning.
‘Not a long term economic plan, but a short term political scam.
‘So, the UK now stands at a crossroads,’ he will add.
‘Osborne is taking an unnecessary political choice to cut further.
‘If the Chancellor really wanted to help the economy, he would invest in, and help our local communities.’
SOURCES: http://www.dailymail.co.uk, by MATT DATHAN