North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones is advocating for a plan that would see prisons give drug-dependent inmates cannabis to determine whether it could reduce overdose deaths and violence, and help with opioid addiction, the Guardian reports.
Jones said that synthetic cannabinoids – known a spice – are common in prisons and are deadly, whereas cannabis is not. He added that prisoners are given heroin substitutes, such as methadone and buprenorphine, and others are given strong pain killers which are addictive and potentially dangerous.
Last year, the Guardian reported that over the past five years, more than 300 prison officers and outside staff in England and Wales had been fired or convicted for smuggling in illegal items, including drugs.
Jones said that if “the aim of the game is to make prisons safer” and officials are “serious about reducing violence in prisons” plans should be in place to “address the causes and that’s psychoactive substances.”
From 2008 to 2016, there were 88 drug-related deaths in U.K. and Wales prisons, according to Office for National Statistics data outlined by the Guardian. The majority of those deaths were related to opioids, but deaths related to spice have increased in recent years, the report says.
Jones, who is not seeking re-election to his post, suggests that prison officials “supply cannabis in controlled conditions and see if offenses reduce.”