The Mail on Sunday

They’ve Freed The Weed at last, Liz. Happy now?

- Peter Hitchens Read Peter’s blog at hitchensbl­og.mailonsund­ and follow him on Twitter @clarkemica­h

OUR ‘Justice Secretary’, Ms Liz Truss, now in charge of our drug-filled prisons, was once an ultra-keen campaigner for the legalisati­on of marijuana. This was in the days when she was openly a Liberal Democrat, instead of the nominal Tory she is now. One of her former comrades recalled in a BBC Radio 4 profile that Ms Truss, pictured left, wanted to cover a whole Lib Dem stall with posters saying Free The Weed! She had to be persuaded to take some down. He said she was ‘very keen that we should be fighting the cause’. I asked her office about this and (after ignoring me for a bit, and being pestered) they eventually responded by saying: ‘The Secretary of State does not believe cannabis should be legalised.’

Well, of course she doesn’t. Why should she? Her student goal is being achieved by another route.

Britain, as a member of the UN Security Council, cannot legalise marijuana without breaking its treaty obligation­s. But what it can do, as pro- drug campaigner­s worked out long ago, is just not enforce the law. And our elite have done just that. Several police forces now openly state that they don’t bother with cannabis possession any more.

The official maximum penalty for possessing marijuana is five years in jail. But the standard response to this crime, recommende­d by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, is the ‘cannabis warning’, an unrecorded nothing.

Even that is falling into disuse. A parliament­ary answer found ‘cannabis warnings’ dropped from 95,000 in 2009 to 72,172 in 2012 to 35,343 last year. This isn’t because there’s less of it about. It’s because the ‘warning’ was just the latest stage in a long surrender.

Meanwhile, there is more evidence each day of a correlatio­n between this drug and mental illness. Ms Truss’s anarchic prisons are full of people whose minds have been wrecked by drugs. But don’t expect a government crammed with people like her to do anything about it.

The Weed is Free in all but name.

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