Cannabis dealers 'must be targeted'
Police efforts to combat cannabis should be focused on dealers and organised gangs rather than individual users found with the drug, one of Britain's most senior police officers said.
Humberside chief constable Tim Hollis, who is the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead on drugs, called for a "mature debate around the harms caused by illicit drugs and the role of the police service regarding enforcement".
But Mr Hollis denied he or ACPO were suggesting legalisation of the personal use of cannabis.
In a statement issued through ACPO, the senior officer said: "I am firmly of the view that our efforts are best utilised in focusing on organised crime and those dealing in drugs rather than simple possession.
"This is particularly so when we are confronted by significant cuts to police budgets.
"The emerging evidence is that putting young people before the courts for simple possession does not solve the problem.
"A more sophisticated approach combining prevention and education, enforcement and treatment is required."
Mr Hollis said the police welcomed the current, ongoing Government review of drugs strategy.
He said: "It is very timely and we await the outcome with interest.
"In the meantime, the police will continue to exercise their discretion when dealing with those who have modest amounts for personal possession as we already have powers to issue cautions or give advice in such circumstances as appropriate."