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Legalising dope would put millions in the pot; DRUGS DEBATE ON CANNABIS AS OPIOID TOLL RISES.

Byline: PAUL O'HARE p.ohare@dailyrecord.co.uk

A RETIRED policeman turned drugs campaigner yesterday backed a report highlighting the tax gains of legalising cannabis.

Former Strathclyde Police inspector Jim Duffy, of pressure group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, says he believes it is time to legalise and regulate the drug.

And he said an internal Treasury report saying the move could raise hundreds of millions was backed up by the experience of legalising pot in the US.

The Treasury report, written for then deputy PM Nick Clegg, says legalisation could also save on police and court costs.

The Government say there are no plans to legalise or decriminalise the drug.

Duffy said: "LEAP fully supports the legalisation and regulation of cannabis.

"It does not mean a free-forall. It does not mean everybody gets access to it. It does not mean it becomes compulsory."

He added that up to 400,000 Scots and more than two million people across the UK use the drug.

He added: "If you transferred that into a parliamentary vote, the people who smoke cannabis would have 11 MPs.

"It is a fairly sizeable chunk of the population you are criminalising for something that grows in the ground."

The Treasury analysis found legalising, regulating and taxing cannabis has the potential to "generate notable tax revenue".

But officials said they believed the sum would be less than the PS500-800million cited in a separate study.

Duffy said the UK could learn lessons from the US state of Colorado, which legalised cannabis last year and generated sales of $700million.

He said: "That is $700m that did not go to the black economy, that did not go to criminals."

Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb said yesterday: "There are successful cannabis markets emerging in different parts of the world and we should look to learn from these experiences.

"The burden is now with supporters of the status quo to explain why prohibition should continue in the face of the emerging evidence."

Over-40s push up admissions HOSPITAL stays related to drugs have hit at a record high, driven by massive rises in opioid-related illnesses and drug problems among over-40s.

Figures show the number of stays linked to opioids, of which the main street drug is heroin, have risen fivefold from 791 in 1996-97 to 4511 in 2014-15.

Drug-related hospital stays have remained steady among under-25s, but have been rising for all age groups beyond.

There was an elevenfold increase in admissions of those aged 40-44 and a 15-fold rise in the 45-49 age group.

CAPTION(S):

CAMPAIGNER Jim Duffy

RISKY Injecting heroin

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 14, 2015
Words:430
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