4th February 2022
By Roland Sebestyén

An ex-cop councillor has called for changes to the UK’s drug laws as he argues that current policy is “knackered” and a regulated market would protect vulnerable children and young people.

Edgeley and Cheadle Heath councillor Matt Wynne, a former police officer serving with Cheshire Police, claims that a change in how the UK government handles cannabis is inevitable.

Cllr Wynne said when working as a police officer he used to attend house raids where young people got handcuffed and arrested for harvesting cannabis. He was not surprised by what he saw.

Cllr Wynne told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I have increasingly thought for a good number of years that how we ‘deal’ with cannabis in this country is knackered.

“In the living room was a lad in handcuffs, mustn’t have been much over 20, every room bar the living room was full of cannabis plants near ready for harvest.

“As a former police officer back in my salad days, I regularly went on such warrants so wasn’t too surprised by what I saw.

“Ten years on nothing has changed except the technology for growth seems to have advanced, bar it seems common knowledge that the business operation is much more lucrative.”

He has first-hand experience of how Canada took on the black market and the gangs that exploited vulnerable people. He saw what a regulated, legal market can mean and he’s been an advocate of change in the UK ever since.

He says “it is working over there”, adding that the state-governed market is increasingly putting criminal gangs out of business and protecting youths.

Cllr Wayne calls for the same in the UK, where house raids and busting cannabis cultivators across the country is everyday news.

He said: “People smoke it as they know it’s a taboo, it’s an act of obtuse subversion. It feels like you can’t walk down many streets in Greater Manchester without smelling it.

“Even one of the more conservative European nations Germany announced the intention to legalise it in December 2021.

“Here successive governments have stuck their head in the sand, hoping it all goes away, terrified of voter repercussions for daring to mention it whilst organised crime gangs grow richer from it every day.

“Young people are exploited and brought in to sell it on the streets as it pays better and gives a status better than any job they could get would, all the while society pays the price for an absence of policy – domestic premises meant for families appropriated for the operation, people trafficked from around the world to grow it, residents that suffer from the risk to fire caused when the electricity supply is bypassed in homes to manufacture it.”

Cllr Wayne, a Labour councillor, is aware of his party leader, Sir Keir Starmer’s firm stance on cannabis, and he disagrees with the former Director of Public Prosecution, now Leader of The Opposition.

Mr Starmer doesn’t support any change in the country’s drug law, implying that if he became prime minister, his government would not consider even decriminalising cannabis possession and use in the UK.

Cllr Wayne said: “I’m certainly not defending my Party’s view on the issue.

“Clearly the leadership is trying to rightfully address the increasing concerns working people have on drugs and street crime, which we have seen over the last decade, but promising to uphold the status quo is ignoring the reality of what harm an absence of policy is causing.

“Hopefully the stance will change in good time.”

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