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Crispin Blunt says new cannabis and wider drugs legislation could be a task for a Royal Commission

Francesca Washtell
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Ban Introduced On Smoking Marijuana In Public Areas
Crispin Blunt is in favour of more relaxed laws surrounding marijuana (Source: Getty)

Former prisons minister and Tory MP Crispin Blunt has said the best way to move ahead with more progressive drugs legislation would be to initiate a Royal Commission on the matter.

Blunt told a fringe event about cannabis legalisation at the Conservative party conference last night that doing so would take the debate about changing drugs policy, which includes areas such as medicinal cannabis, "out of the purely political sphere".

The Conservative party does not currently support the decriminalisation or legalisation of cannabis for medical or recreational use.

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Blunt, who revealed in January he had used the legal high poppers, has said he is in favour of decriminalising cannabis.

Under decriminalisation, users are usually not penalised for being in possession of small amounts of marijuana, though the selling and cultivation of the substance is usually still a crime.

Legalisation, on the other hand, gives a green light to both consumers and sellers, allowing private companies to flourish.

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At the same event, Blunt told the audience that when he was in charge of prisons and probations at the ministry of justice, from 2010 to 2012, he was warned against asking difficult questions about drugs policy.

When he asked the justice department to tell him how much drugs cost the criminal justice system, he was told in a ministerial discussion "that it might be singularly unpolitic to pose those question because it might unpick the government's entire drugs strategy and any suggestion that the criminalisation in the UK should be challenged would then begin an exercise of unpicking drugs law and sending the wrong message".

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Instead, Blunt was forced to submit written parliamentary questions about drugs policy through then-Labour shadow prisons minister, Bob Ainsworth, in a bid to get officials to answer his questions.

The Liberal Democrats have been the most active political party to campaign on more progressive drugs policy, supporting relaxed laws both for recreational and medicinal purposes.

Legalising pot would generate £1bn in tax for the Treasury each year, the Lib Dems claimed in a report released in March.

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