Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Time to get tough on drug law, Shannon to urge MPs

Strangford MP Jim Shannon is calling for tougher drug laws.

After an adjournment debate in the House of Commons, Mr Shannon has told the Community Telegraph he is considering putting forward an early day motion on tightening the UK law.

The debate that sparked the move was held on June 9. Conservative MP Charles Walker read the stories of families affected by cannabis psychosis.

He particularly highlighted the dangers of a potent type of cannabis, called skunk.

“I am not a clinician or a scientist, so I am not going to give a hugely exhaustive overview of the chemical content of skunk cannabis,” he said, adding that he was a voice “for all those parents who cannot be here tonight”.

Mr Shannon said at the debate: “In Northern Ireland, we have seen a rash of suicides as a result of this very drug.”

In an interview with the Community Telegraph Mr Shannon said: “Charlie Walker MP, mentioned a number of people who have died of cannabis psychosis and there have been a number of deaths in Northern Ireland that had a connection to drugs and cannabis directly.”

He congratulated Mr Walker on raising the issue and said he now wants a debate on classification.

Mr Shannon’s call comes in the same month as celebrities, three ex chief constables and other signatories signed an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron asking for the decriminalisation of drug possession. Mr Shannon said: “I certainly would not support the move to decriminalise cannabis — I would rather see it more tightly controlled, I believe parents would also want to see a tightening of the law.

“It’s like someone who says, ‘Drive at 50 through that town, but do it safely — even though it’s a 30-mile an hour zone’.

“I would think this is the case where cannabis is concerned. The law of the land must be upheld — we must protect the vulnerable and liberalisation would be a step back. Drugs are one of the greatest killers we have.’’

He said that in the adjournment debate Mr Walker had declared he would support a motion for a new debate on classification and Mr Shannon confirmed he was looking to have an early day motion on the subject.

A spokesperson from a Northern Ireland website dedicated to the legalisation of cannabis has countered the claim that tighter legislation is a prudent move by the Government.

The Cannabis NI spokesperson said:

“That's what politicians do — they speak and act on policy, opinion and belief, rather than fact and evidence. Indeed that is why they run such campaigns — if they genuinely knew the truth, they would not do so.

“The Government spends billions of pounds annually propping up prohibition and the taxpayer pays.”

The spokesperson added:

“When politicians talk about skunk they fail to understand that skunk is one strain and that there are many other strains of cannabis that are more potent.”

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