Making cannabis a Class A drug would be 'utterly catastrophic', a former undercover cop has said.
At the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham on Monday (3 October), the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Dorset, David Sidwick, called for the drug to be upgraded from Class B, claiming it is a 'gateway drug' that is 'driving harm'.
However, Neil Woods - a former undercover drugs operative who now campaigns for international drug policy reform - has said that such a move would be 'off the scale stupid'.
Penalties for those found in possession of Class A drugs are much more severe; however, Woods pointed to studies that have shown that stricter penalties do not reduce consumption. Rather, any increase in aggression from the state is mirrored in the market, he said.
"If you've increased the threat in the marketplace, then there is greater risk, and there's greater fear of the impact of being caught," Woods told LADbible.
"The biggest chance of getting caught for dealers, the biggest tool that police use, is the use of police informants... and the people that get grassed up are the people that are at lower risk.
"So in other words, by increasing the threat in the market, you create a Darwinian situation, where the most violent and intimidating are the ones who don't get grassed."
What's more, Woods - a board member of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) - said upgrading cannabis would have a devastating impact on children.
"It will be horrific for those children who are roped into exploitation to deal the drug," Woods reasoned.
"Because I mean, the reason you've got children dealing heroin and crack cocaine is because of the risk to the adult dealers being caught. They use children as proxy dealers to protect them.
"That has been caused by our policy. It's not been caused by anything else. That's why we have children dealing because of our policy.
"And it will expand, there will be more children dealing if you make cannabis Class A - and that is an absolute fact. There's no other way of interpreting the current situation in the UK."
In many countries across the world, weed is being legalised, and many people point to the comparative harm of alcohol when calling for the drug's legalisation.
However, while there is 'very clear evidence' that alcohol is substantially more damaging, Woods said this point is a distraction from the fundamental point that 'every drug is more dangerous in the hands of organised crime'.
As such, Woods is bewildered by PCC Sidwick's call for cannabis to be upgraded.
"It's so stupid," he said. "It's off the scale stupid. It will be utterly catastrophic.
"It'll be utterly catastrophic for young people who are caught and get a criminal conviction, which will be much more serious.
"It will be catastrophic for those people who get sent to jail, that they wouldn't have otherwise sent to jail, because jail is one of the most traumatising, horrific things you can do to anybody."
The Home Secretary has stressed that the calls are only proposals, and at the moment, there is no indication that the classification of the drug is going to change.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "There are currently no plans to reclassify cannabis, which is controlled as a Class B drug in the UK on the basis of clear medical and scientific evidence of its harms."
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