Marijuana users in North England can expect more leniency now that Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg has officially announced that the police force’s priorities have changed.

In an effort to reduce costs, lower the rate of habitual offenders and focus on more serious crimes, the police will turn a blind eye to the Crown Prosecution Service, which mandates that all cannabis cultivation offenders face up to 14 years in jail. A person caught with a small amount of marijuana is now more likely to face a warning than prosecution.

While many critics and anti-drug lobbyists are opposed to having such lax cannabis enforcement measures, there does not seem to be much they can do about it except voice their concerns. Hogg is convinced that a more liberal approach to cannabis legalization and regulation is needed. He has tried using other resources to increase compliance with the Crown Prosecution Service throughout the years, but those measures yielded very few results. Now he is convinced that a more lenient approach is necessary to be more successful and less resource intensive on a police force with limited funds. He says:

“It’s about keeping people out of the criminal justice system and reducing costs. My position is clear – I support decriminalization of users and support debate around the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. I am trying to open up a debate about drugs and drugs policy.”

Hogg is not the only ranking official taking this approach. All across the country, police forces are turning a blind eye to small-time cannabis users and dealers. In the eyes of the law, it is more beneficial to go after large-scale dealers, users and other big-time offenders in order to better serve and protect the people.

While cannabis users across the country may consider this good news, they need to be aware. Anyone caught using cannabis in front of an officer or who has complaints lodged against them for cannabis use will be dealt with, but will be given the opportunity to participate in the Checkpoint programme, the goal of which is to “reduce the number of victims of crime by reducing re-offending.”

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