An ex-undercover drugs detective who worked in Northampton for six months in 2004 and helped to overturn a notorious drug gang is campaigning to legalise cannabis as he believes it will reduce organised crime.
Neil Woods worked covertly for 14 years disguised as a heroin addict for the East Midlands Special Operations Unit but he believes most of his work made no benefit and wants to legalise cannabis to protect children from gateway crime.
He proposes cannabis should be sold in plain packages - with no power of advertising - in licensed outlets under strict government control. This way teens over 18 can safely purchase
the drug and will be aware of the strength.
He believes cannabis would be safer if it is controlled.
He claims many people he has met who have used the class B drug, Skunk, have said it has caused temporary psychosis, which is known as a severe mental disorder where users' thoughts and emotions are lost from the outside world.
Asked whether legalising cannabis would increase the numbers of users, he said: "I'm dubious of the extent cannabis use would go up. It's so easy to get, I don't believe it would be a dramatic increase."
"The first drug teens get into is cannabis, it's massive and it's really widespread.
"From my observations, it's incredibly easy for teens to get hold of the cannabis. I remember it was cheaper in Northampton."
Northampton was one of the first towns where running country lines was established, he adds.
In layman’s terms, this means a drug gang sell their wares to mass numbers saved in their mobile phone contact list, but in this instance, he is referring to organised drug gangs who recruit teens to sell drugs.
"Teenagers have kudos for selling it, then they get into more lucrative drugs like crack. There is a real danger once a teen is involved.
"I have seen cheeky 16 and 17 year olds turn into terrifying 18 year olds, that's the last way to survive in the marketplace," he adds.
He believes cannabis is not a gateway drug in the chemical sense but there is a strong link between the gateway into crime.
Substance To Solution (S2S) have been approached for further comment but declined to provide their thoughts surrounding the debate.