SCOTLAND should have its own “regulated cannabis market” to control the pricing and potency of the drug, a LibDem MSP had claimed.

Alex Cole-Hamilton made the call after new figures showed the vast majority of police seizures involved cannabis.

In total, the force seized 347.9 kg of herbal cannabis, 322.1kg of cannabis resin and 18,310 cannabis plants from dealers.

That was, however, significantly down on the previous year’s figures.

Conversely, there was a huge increase in the number of seizures of Class C drugs, including Diazepam and other Benzodiazepines. Almost 2.2 million tablets were seized in 2016-17, compared to 1.3m tablets in 2015-16 and 1.2m in 2014-15.

The data, obtained from the Drug Seizures and Offender Characteristics 2016-2017 report, also showed Police had seized 54.1kg of heroin, 120.3kg of cocaine, 5.2kg of crack cocaine, and 8600 ecstasy-type tablets from suppliers in 2016-17.

Another startling jump is in the police’s haul of approximately 12,100 tablets of anabolic steroids in 2016-17, compared to just 300 in 2015-16.

Cole-Hamilton said: “These new figures show that when it comes to drug related crime, police time is dominated by cannabis. Despite this, cannabis is freely available and widely used. The ‘war on drugs’ just simply isn’t working. It is costing millions and filling the pockets of criminal gangs. That is why Liberal Democrats believe in introducing a regulated cannabis market in UK, with robust and responsible licensing, as opposed to an unregulated criminal market. This will improve public health and protect communities.

“Of course, those dealing drugs illegally should continue to face tough criminal sanctions. But our proposals would free up the police to deal with organised crime groups and would ensure we can better manage and minimise the health risks associated with cannabis use.”

Laws around cannabis are all currently reserved to Westminster, under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The National Statistics publication said: “The quantity of drugs seized can fluctuate considerably each year and does not necessarily move in line with the number of seizures made.

“Whilst most drug seizures consist of relatively small quantities (usually possession-related crimes), annual quantities of drugs seized can be greatly influenced by a small number of large seizures (usually from supply-related crimes).”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Substance misuse devastates too many families and communities across the country. We want to address that and change the provision of treatment and support for those who are most at risk.

“That means taking forward evidence-led measures, even if they were to prove controversial.”

Scottish ministers are currently reviewing drugs strategy.