Housing providers in Liverpool have joined forces with local authorities in an anti-cannabis campaign. The ‘Use it? Lose it!’ campaign warns tenants that they could be evicted from their homes if they are caught using cannabis. In other words, lives could be ruined for the crime of smoking a joint.
This move hasn’t gone unnoticed by the pro-cannabis lobby. Peter Reynolds, President of cannabis law reform group CLEAR, said the campaign is “disgusting” and reflects “despicable prejudice, hate and fear mongering”. He also insisted that:
The people responsible for this have broken every ethical and moral standard as well as preferring a government-funded campaign of misinformation and propaganda to a vast body of scientific evidence.
This initiative follows a number of house fires in Merseyside caused by cannabis farms. Indeed, since fires caused by cannabis farms can result in manslaughter, these operations are clearly very risky. And in the name of public safety, cracking down on these operations could be justified. Mark Wiggins, Liverpool local policing superintendent, said:
Our communities can help us stop these groups, who are only interested in making money from turning houses and flats into potential death traps.
On the other hand, these dangers only exist because cannabis growing is unregulated. Where cannabis has been legalised, these fires do not occur, because the plants are grown in licensed and well-regulated facilities. Public health and safety will always be more of a concern when cannabis is grown in hazardous conditions by gangs near where people live.
While cracking down on dodgy cannabis farms can be sensible, can the same be said about punishing cannabis users? Donna Kelly, regional director at Liverpool Housing Trust (LHT), said:
Cannabis use in rented properties, particularly those with communal areas, can be a real nuisance to residents. Not only is it illegal, it is also often linked to other anti-social behaviour.
Kelly added that, whilst helping people with substance abuse problems is important, “we are also concerned about the impact of cannabis on the wider community”.
However, it is not clear why the legal status of cannabis should carry the extra punishment of being evicted from one’s home. Kelly also repeats fear-mongering claims about how cannabis makes people more anti-social. An expert on the subject highlights that cannabis isn’t a cause of anti-social behaviour. More harm may actually result from criminalising people for using cannabis, by affecting their future opportunities.
The campaign is seen as unfair for tarring cannabis users with the same brush as cannabis growers. What actual risk do cannabis users pose to the public? According to Prof David Nutt’s drug harm index, alcohol causes significantly more harm to others than cannabis does. The overall annual cost of crime and anti-social behaviour linked to alcohol is approximately £7.3bn. But there don’t appear to be any plans to crack down on alcohol consumption. So there definitely seems to be some inconsistency in a campaign like this one.
A waste of time and money?
Wiggins says that growing cannabis is not a victimless crime. And this is true. But who will be protected if ordinary people who use cannabis are made homeless? It’s also hard to imagine cannabis growers deciding to close down operations after getting this leaflet through their door. In short, the campaign may prove to be a waste of both time and money; causing more harm in the end than good.
– Support CLEAR.
– Check out more articles from The Canary on cannabis.
Featured image via Wikimedia
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?