Alcohol is a much greater threat to people’s health than cannabis, former Home Office minister Norman Baker has warned, saying its dangers are being underplayed.
Pointing to figures that show there were only 13 deaths related to cannabis use last year compared with more than 7,000 caused by alcohol, the Lib Dem MP says there is “hysteria” over drug use in the UK.
Mr Baker, who resigned from the Home Office after saying that the experience of working with Theresa May was like “walking through mud”, said he had been shocked to learn of the extent of Britain’s drinking culture during his year as Crime Prevention Minister.
His battles included trying to shut down a JD Wetherspoon motorway pub on the M40, a move allegedly blocked by Number 10, and calling on shops to stop “irresponsible” alcoholic drinks promotions.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that of the 13 deaths in 2013 that were related to cannabis, 12 mentioned other factors as well on the death certificates.
“These figures show that we need to be less hysterical about cannabis and worried more about alcohol,” said Mr Baker. “I’m in favour of evidence-based policy, and we underplay the dangers of alcohol. Politicians need to reflect that society has changed since the 1970s, so the rhetoric should change.”
By Mark leftly
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