PRO-CANNABIS campaigners say an invite to share their views with authorities at a major drugs symposium is a step forward in the journey to legalisation.

The founder of the Teesside Cannabis Club (TCC) has welcomed an invite from Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg, to participate in the upcoming Future of Drug Policy symposium.

The event - taking place at Ramside Hall, near Durham on Thursday, November 27 - will see police, politicians, health experts and academics come together to debate drug policies and potential reform.

TCC representatives will share their arguments for the decriminalisation of medicinal cannabis and suggest ways in which the authorities could work with users to save public funds and diminish the influence of drug dealers.

Founder John Holiday said: “We’d like to share an open database of people who grow cannabis for personal use with the police, for example.

“Then, if they’re tipped off about someone on there, they can send one officer to check the situation rather than staging an expensive operation and knocking doors down.

“We don’t want to encourage the black market trade or deal with undesirables, we want to help police officers in a sensible way to deal with their local community.”

He added: “Cannabis will probably be legalised in the next 18 months, the whole country is discussing this.

“Now, we’re flouting and breaking the law but we’re doing our best in a bad situation.

“The authorities work with us as best they can but this invite is significant as it means they’re willing to listen– it’s a massive step in the right direction.

“Ron Hogg is a staunch supporter of medicinal cannabis who doesn’t advocate abuse of any drug – he’s exactly the kind of person we want to work with.”

PCC Ron Hogg said: “They’re people with a view on drugs – I want to hear all views so that we can begin to do a thorough review of the law.

“While I might not agree with all they say, their proposals around cannabis for medicinal use need to be considered.

“This is about bringing together groups of people to encourage open, meaningful debate about what direction we feel drugs legislation should take.

“Current drugs policy is not working and working with groups like this can help shape thinking – we’re never going to agree on everything but if they have good ideas, why not work with them?”