Pubdate: 29 Apr, 1999
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 1999
Author: Tom Wood
Note: The article referred to is 'Police chief backs call
         for cannabis law reform' and the Editorial is 'Let's end the
         reefer madness'


Sir, - I strongly object to the assertion in your report (23 April)
that I retracted an earlier statement on the decriminalisation of
cannabis, which I made at a conference in Edinburgh. I did not
retract, I explained.

What I explained was that a speaker had said that it was time for a
fresh look at the cannabis issue, and said it might be time to
decriminilise its use.

In asking a question, I had agreed it was time for a fresh,
comprehensive look at drugs legalisation, with nothing ruled out and
nothing ruled in. I believe this because the main legislation
governing dangerous drugs is nearly 30 years old, and society has
moved a long way in the interim. A reassessment is long overdue.

In my explanation. I pointed out that it is not for the police to make
the law; our job is to enforce it. It is for the Government, and to
some extent society in general, to decide on the law. As an interested
and involved individual, I am entitled to a view. Let me make my
position clear. I do agree, after 30 years in the police, that the
time has arrived for a completely fresh look at law enforcement in
relation to drugs. I also believe this about alcohol.

Both have a pernicious impact on society, and are catalysts for
criminal activity ranging from theft to assaults and, in the case of
alcohol, widespread domestic violence and disruption. They can have a
devastating effect on the health of those who use them, and that has a
considerable impact on health services.

I do not, personally or professionally, advocate the legalisation of
cannabis, because I do not know enough about the medical pros and cons
of using the substance to make that judgment. I do believe in an open
debate, especially one in which those with genuine expertise and
knowledge are able to contribute their views. The new chapter about to
open in the governance of Scotiand may be the opportunity for that to
happen. That was why I raised the subject.

I acknowledge that your editorial (also 23 April) was fair and
balanced, but that cannot be said of your report.

Tom Wood 
Deputy Chief Constable 
Lothian and Borders Police 
Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh
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