A British politician has argued that the government should consider legalizing cannabis after claiming that “the war on drugs has failed”.

Labour MP David Lammy responded to a report from drugs policy think tank Volte Face, which showed that convictions of children for supplying cannabis have shot up in the past five years. It surveyed more than 1,000 Brits aged 16-17 and also found that children find it much easier to source cannabis than alcohol.

Cannabis specifically has become the substance of choice for young people, who are unable to purchase alcohol because of its strict regulation”, said Lammy.

“Therefore the criminalization of the drug has had the exact opposite effect to the deterrence it was meant to induce. We ought to consider a more mature approach to drugs policy, which is based in health rather than criminality”.

Norman Lamb, a former health minister with the Liberal Democrats, backed his claims, saying that British children are paying the price for the country’s “outdated drugs policy”.

44% of British teenagers find it “very easy” to buy cannabis, whereas only 22% said the same thing of alcohol.

The Home Office has pledged £16 billion ($21 billion) to local authorities to provide drugs treatment and support, but said it’s not considering decriminalization. Yet Home Secretary Sajid Javid wants to make more medical marijuana products legal in the next few months and he has commissioned a report from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs on how to supply the market.

The report’s author said unlicensed cannabis should be used as “a product of last resort”, but it’s developing access routes to market; Canadian firms that already supply Germany are hoping to capitalize as they already have the infrastructure to meet demand.

Volte Face called on the UK government to regulate and take control of the marijuana market to protect children from being exploited. Its survey found that 44% of British teenagers find it “very easy” to buy cannabis, whereas only 22% said the same thing of alcohol. The group is demanding a new public debate around cannabis policy.

“Millions of people who choose to consume cannabis mostly find it extremely easy to find either in the black market or by growing their own,” it said.

“Teenagers seem to have near ubiquitous access. Law enforcement of cultivation and possession is dwindling and applied inconsistently across the country – some police jurisdictions have declared de facto decriminalization of possession – people in need of support don’t know where to turn, and there is almost no investment at all in either pubic information or school education programs regarding the health issues related to cannabis use.”

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