Free weed ‘would make prisons safer’ claims police commissioner

Jails should hand out free cannabis to help prisoners overcome their drug problems, says Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Arfon Jones.

Mr Jones, 66, says the tactic could reduce violence in prisons and prevent overdose deaths by reducing the temptation to use illegal drugs.

“Let’s supply cannabis in controlled conditions and see if offences reduce,” he said.

He pointed out that many prisoners are given heroin substitute such as methadone help them manage their addictions while inside.

Also, he says, prisons are overflowing with illegally smuggled – and often very dangerous – opioid drugs and offering free cannabis could help stem the tide.

“If they’re on opioids, why can’t they be prescribed cannabis?” he added.

“At the end of the day, opioids are a damn sight more dangerous than cannabis. It would be an improvement on the illegal spice smuggled in by corrupt prison officers too.”

The Guardian reports that over 300 prison officers and ancillary staff have been sacked and in many cases prosecuted for smuggling drugs and other items into English and Welsh prisons since 2015.

There were 21,575 drugs finds in 2019 – up nearly 20% on the previous year. Between 2008 and 2016, the most recent period for which official figures are available, 88 prisoners died from drug overdoses.

“The aim of the game is to make prisons safer,” says Mr Jones, who says he is not seeking re-election as North Wales PCC after he completes his term.. “If they’re serious about reducing violence in prisons they should be addressing the causes and that’s psychoactive substances. Plus there’s a whole range of issues that cannabis would be geared to reduce the risk of.”

Mr Jones has suggested a limited trial to test whether the idea has a positive effect. He has suggested that HMP Berwyn – which has seen multiple deaths from the synthetic drug Spice as well as a number of staff disciplinary actions for drug smuggling.

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