Police CBA Arresting Cannabis Sellers Anymore
The Debrief: Durham’s police either don’t give a crap about people growing the B-class drug or have got too much on their hands to bother investigating weed farms...
As George Osborne goes about hacking away at governmental budgets (he wants them to nix up to 40% of their budgets), Durham Police seem to have their own cost-cutting idea… to not investigate cannabis smokers and small-time growers.
The police force, which covers the whole of the Durham County, casually announced this week it would not be charging those growing weed for personal use through a Facebook post (because Durham’s coppers are that cool, apparently). The post featured a photo of an officer in a poly tunnel – a cheap plastic version of a green house – filled with cannabis plants. The caption explained that the 51-year-old guy growing all this weed ‘was given a caution’.
For those who don’t follow the Durham drug scene, this move is actually unsurprising as there’s been support for decriminalisation of the drug. Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, told The Guardian, ‘Cannabis use is still illegal and smoking it is still a crime, but if you are caught, you will get this opportunity to stop re-offending. By and large we are saying it is not the top of our list to go out and try to pick up people smoking joints on street corners but if it’s blatant or we get complaints, officers will act. It’s about keeping people out of the criminal justice system and reducing costs, it's about being more productive with the way we approach things. It's also about seeking to prevent future use by keeping people out of prison.’
The original post has seen social media users divided. While some are on the ‘this is a potty idea, it’s just going to encourage people’ tack, others have wondered, ‘Is this a trick so people are less cautious?’ Then some others took the opportunity to comment on the size of the policeman's bush.
Even after criticism, it looks like the Durham Police force aren’t going to U-turn on their new cost-cutting idea. But don’t celebrate the (not-so-full-at-all) decriminalisation of the drug yet, because police in the county will still be prosecuting commercial sellers and growers. And if you are caught smoking or growing a little on your windowsill (or a hell of a lot in your massive poly tunnel, as you casually do), you’ll be cautioned and have the option to join the force’s Check Point Programme, an initiative aimed at stopping people re-offending.
So, with this new initiative in mind, could Durham be test ground for the UK’s possible/maybe/in the near future decriminalisation of the drug? After all, following Portugal's decriminalisation of all drugs in 2001 (if people are caught with drugs, they're sent to drug rehabilitation centres), drug use has actually declined!
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