Carmichael: Regulating cannabis would take it out of criminals’ control

Parliamentary candidate Alistair Carmichael has given his backing to the Lib Dems “pragmatic” plans to legalise cannabis if the party is elected.

The policy was unveiled on Friday ahead of the publication of the party’s full election manifesto. Mr Carmichael said it would take the cannabis market out of the hands of criminal gangs.

The approach would allow cannabis, currently a class B drug, to be sold in regulated premises.

The Liberal Democrats election candidate Alistair Carmichael.

Growing the plant would no longer be a crime and small-scale cannabis “social clubs” would be permitted.

The Lib Dems backed a regulated market for cannabis at their spring conference in 2016.

Mr Carmichael today said the policy recognised “that cannabis is freely available and widely used in an unregulated black market”. Controlling its sale would prevent criminals exploiting the black market which he said was estimated at £7 billion a year.

The Westminster hopeful said it was a policy that was used in several countries.

“In making this proposal we are following the practice of other countries in Europe and elsewhere. Canada is about to take the same step.

“It is not a step that we propose lightly but rather is policy that we have formulated after careful consultation with senior police officers, drugs policy analysts and public health experts. It is a policy that is based on evidence.

“If I thought that it was the wrong thing to do then I would not be supporting it.

“As a father of two young men – 16 and 20 twenty years old – I want them to grow up and to mature in the safest possible environment. I hope that they would not use cannabis but that is a decision which they will doubtless make for themselves in due course.

“There are no circumstances under which I would want to see them brought into contact with the organised criminals that currently control this market.”

Mr Carmichael said users would be able to buy cannabis in much the same way that people buy alcohol or tobacco.

“That is to say it would be sold only to people over 18 years of age and they would know exactly what they were buying. Someone buying a bottle of whisky or gin in a shop knows that they are buying alcohol that is, for example, 40 per cent by volume.

“Few people would think it sensible these days to buy illicitly produced alcohol, the strength of which would be completely unknown.”

He pointed out that dealers don’t do age checks or check quality or strength, adding: “Its unregulated use is leading to a growing incidence of mental and physical health problems.”

The proposals were drawn up following the completion of a report co-authored by Sir David Nutt, a former UK government drugs adviser. It argued that cannabis should be taxed – bringing in up to £1 billion a year in taxes.


Add Your Comment
  • Les Sinclair

    • May 14th, 2017 19:48

    In my view, Alistair Carmichael has shown little sign of being a progressive politician over the course of his career.
    Is this a sign that he’s willing to consider, and endorse, progressive policies?

  • Ian Tinkler

    • May 15th, 2017 6:25

    Intelligent comment at last. Drugs should not be controlled by criminals. Latest figures available from Shetland Health Board; The scale of drug-injecting going on in Shetland these days, mainly of heroin, can be guessed at from the 506 needles or syringes that are given out every week to users, a total of 26,312 items in 2009/10, up from 21,154 in 2008/09. (09/08/2011, Shetland Times)
    One can only speculate why more up to date figures appear unavailable. Perhaps the powers that be prefer us all to be in ignorance!

  • Ian Leask

    • May 18th, 2017 12:22

    Although I fully endorse the legalization of Cannabis, mainly because the current laws actually cause more harm than good and the fact that I have been a smoker of cannabis for over 30years.

    I could not possibly vote for a proven liar Carmicheal and the fact that the Lib-Dems would need to be in power in Westminster to change Drug Laws, since drug laws are reserved to Westminster.

    The chances of the Lib-Dems becoming the next Government is almost zero %


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.