Home Affairs Committee president Rob Prow has written an open letter, published in Monday's Guernsey Press, seeking to rebalance the debate over legalising the Class B drug.
Deputy Prow said the States should reject the issue in this week’s Government Work Plan debate and focus on addressing ‘the real issues impacting on the community and the island’.
‘I am concerned that the narrative, often played out on social media and in the media, around the recreational use of cannabis is hugely simplistic,’ he said.
He said that the States was already reviewing sentencing policy and non-punitive, health-based approaches towards drug users, and said it was entirely wrong for Health & Social Care to ‘shoehorn in’ a separate review to look at potential full legalisation.
And he warned that it would not signal an end to criminal activity in the local drugs trade.
Local and UK experts have said that legalisation was likely to lead to an increase in drug use and would still leave organised crime involved in the market.
‘Those making money from illegal drugs are not going to become legitimate tradespeople overnight, paying taxes and complying with regulations,' Deputy Prow said.
‘It is suggested that legalising the recreational use of cannabis will enlarge the drugs market, opening up this activity to a wider audience.
‘Those currently in this trade will simply evolve and promote other substances or higher strengths, undercutting legal sales. It is unlikely they will be concerned with the age of customers, identification, quality of product or the amount consumed.’
Deputy Prow said that a review commissioned by HSC and carried out by the UK’s Public Health Institute had noted that Guernsey’s drug-relayed mortality rate was comparatively low compare to the UK and Europe.
‘That must mean that the drug strategies employed locally over the previous decades have had largely a very positive impact when considering the community as a whole.
‘A combination of education, treatment and law enforcement has avoided the escalation of harms caused elsewhere.’
Deputy Prow is also concerned that a relaxation on drugs would adversely effect the island’s reputation and that of the finance industry, and lead to the island being a target for other criminal activity with cannabis still illegal in the UK, especially money laundering and border controls.
The States is due to debate the proposal from Health & Social Care during this week’s debate, which starts tomorrow.
Read Deputy Prow’s open letter in full in Monday's Guernsey Press