Cannabis campaigner hits out at drug rant Islington councillor

Cllr Gary Poole

Cllr Gary Poole - Credit: Archant

A lead campaigner for cannabis law reform has joined the backlash against a councillor’s attack on the drug.

Roland Gyally-Pap, executive director of Clear UK

Roland Gyally-Pap, executive director of Clear UK - Credit: Archant

Cllr Gary Poole said it was a “scandal” that residents were smoking cannabis in social housing while there were 10,000 “decent people” on the waiting list.

But Roland Gyally-Pap, a Finsbury resident and executive director of Clear-UK, said Cllr Poole’s views displayed “ignorance” and “bigotry”.

In a letter send to all councillors, Mr Gyally-Pap, who lives off City Road, said: “There are roughly three million regular cannabis users in the UK and around three tonnes of cannabis are consumed every day.

“Extending the implications of your comment to the UK population would leave tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people out on the street.

“Your disparaging view of cannabis users no doubt stems from your background as a prison governor where, inevitably, you have come across unsavoury people who consume cannabis.

“Most cannabis users, however, are decent people who otherwise abide by the law, hold down jobs and pay taxes.

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“Of course, there is a criminal infrastructure that accounts for the £6billion per year market. That is why we advocate the legalisation, regulation and taxation of cannabis.”

Mr Gyally-Pap is a strong advocate of the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, having seen the positive effects it had on the wellbeing of his mother whilst she was terminally ill.

He also attacked Cllr Poole’s fellow Labour councillors. many of whom clapped his comments at the meeting, saying: “It is a disgrace that Islington’s (Labour) councillors, with the exception of Caroline Russell (Green), supported your unwarranted outburst.”

Islington Labour said there was no council policy to take action against drug-taking tenants.

What does concern the council is the strong link between cannabis supply and organised crime. Cllr Paul Convery, executive member for community safety, said: “The important thing to say is that Islington Council does not have a policy to evict drug taking tenants.

“The law even says that we can’t evict somebody for that reason. But as Mr Gyally-Pap says, there is a criminal infrastructure that accounts for £6billion a year related to the sale of cannabis.

“Organised crime, that element of cannabis that gets it from its source to users, is a huge issue and while it remains illegal that is always going to be the case. We can’t change the law and as it is, cannabis is a class B drug in this country.”

Cllr Poole declined to comment