UK Police Mostly Turn a Blind Eye to Marijuana

Article by Duke London,


Across the pond, the police have apparently “given up” on prosecuting marijuana offenders, only charging about one-in-four people caught with the plant. That figure is even high in some areas of the UK, where as few as 14% face an official charge after being apprehended.

The more progressive stance toward marijuana possession and cultivation may stem from forward-thinking leadership. Chief Constable Mike Barton, who is quite influential within the National Police Chiefs Council, has taken an open-minded approach when it comes to drug policy. Barton has stated in the past that he would legalize all Class A and B drugs, including cocaine and heroin, and even offer addicts “safe consumption rooms.” Barton leads the NPCC’s Crime Operations and sets the force’s directive, including the increasingly standoffish approach to marijuana. According to Barton, even hardened users (we’re assuming that means possession of significant weight) and growers will cease to be targeted by police efforts.

While new data shows some regions of the country charge around 65% of marijuana offenders, most police are looking the other way. Out of 471,202 people who were found to be in possession of marijuana between 2011 and 2015, only 126,789 faced charges (roughly 27%). Comparatively, over 40% of people caught with cannabis walked away with a mere warning. In Great Britain, these warnings do not appear on an individual’s criminal record or background checks.

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