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North Wales PCC Arfon Jones said many prisoners take heroin substitutes and smuggled drugs, and he argued these could be far more harmful than marijuana.
Jones believes cannabis could help reduce overdose deaths and violence, as well as helping people overcome opioid addiction.
The 66-year-old former police officer told The Guardian: "If they're on opioids, why can't they be prescribed cannabis?
"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.
"Let's supply cannabis in controlled conditions and see if offences reduce.
"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."
Time to think outside the box if @HMPPSCymru @MoJGovUK are serious about reducing violence and organised crime within the prison estate @UKLEAP @TransformDrugs @Release_drugs
Call for UK prisons to trial free cannabis to see if it cuts drug deathshttps://t.co/euQKfVchEw
- Arfon Jones :flag_black::flag_black: (@ArfonJ) January 10, 2021
Jones is not the first to suggest such a scheme. Pharmacologist Dr Stephanie Sharp, a co-founder of Glasgow Expert Witness Service, made a similar appeal in 2018.
According to the Daily Record, she said: "Why aren't prisons able to give them cannabis? It is a much safer alternative. Psychoactive substances like spice are illegal but all they have to do is change a chemical and they become legal again.
"Because we are not addressing the issue of psychoactive drugs, we are condemning people to death in prisons and on the streets.
"We should accept people will take drugs and we should keep them safe by allowing them to get it through pharmacists."
The number of drug finds in prisons in 2019-2020 rose by 18 percent.
A Prison Service spokesperson told The Guardian: "We have a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and work closely with healthcare to support offenders through treatment and recovery."
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