Prisons urged to issue free cannabis in a bid to reduce drug deaths 5 months ago

Prisons urged to issue free cannabis in a bid to reduce drug deaths

"Decriminalise drug possession and fewer people will come to harm, in or outside prison."

Prisons have been urged to issue free cannabis to inmates in a bid to reduce drug-related deaths.

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In an interview with The Guardian, Arfon Jones - Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales - said prisons should trial the scheme in order to reduce deaths, violence and drug-related harm in general.

He believes "cheap and synthetic" drug compounds have a direct impact on the level of death and violence in UK prisons.

Jones said: "The aim of the game is to make prisons safer. 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."

He also believes that prescribing cannabis would move prisoners away from "illegal spice smuggled in by corrupt prison officers".

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The scheme would at least be a step in the right direction, according to former drug cop Neil Woods.

Speaking exclusively to JOE, he thinks the idea would reduce harm.

"There isn't a drug free prison in the world whatever the regime," Woods says.

"This idea is based on evidence that it would reduce harm. Replacing synthetic cannabinoids would be a major harm reduction."

However, he believes "it's impossible to keep illicit drugs out of prison, no matter the fantasy of any 'get-tough' politician".

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Woods is an ex-undercover police officer who has infiltrated some of the UK's deadliest drug gangs.

For him, the scheme is a welcome idea - but ultimately doesn't go far enough.

"Let's be clear," he says.

"An even better way of reducing the harm to people who use drugs in prison is to stop sending them there.

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"We have the highest prison population in Europe, and they're full of non-violent drug offenders. Decriminalise drug possession and fewer people will come to harm, in or outside prison."

Read more: Life as an undercover police officer within a violent drugs gang