London, United Kingdom: Parliament's Advisory Council on the Misuse of
Drugs (ACMD) announced today that it supports efforts by the British Home
Office to downgrade marijuana possession to a non-arrestable offense.

"The high use of cannabis is not associated with major health problems
for the individual or society, [and] the occasional use of cannabis is
only rarely associated with significant problems in otherwise healthy
individuals," the ACMD said. "In light of [the] current scientific
evidence, [we] have recommended the reclassification of all cannabis
preparations to Class C."

Possession of Class C drugs is a non-arrestable offense in the United
Kingdom. British law currently categorizes marijuana as a Class B
prohibited substance.

The ACMD concluded, "The current classification of cannabis is
disproportionate in relation to both its inherent harmfulness, and to the
harmfulness of other substances, such as amphetamines, that are currently
in Class B." Last October, British Home Office Secretary David Blunkett
announced that pot would be downgraded to "soft drug" status later this

The ACMD report comes one day after a report by the Joseph Rowntree
Foundation determined that decriminalizing pot would save $71 million
dollars in police resources, and less than a week after Britain's Liberal
Democrats party endorsed marijuana's outright legalization.

"[The time] is right ... to seek for cannabis to be legalized so that it
can be regulated like alcohol and tobacco and taken out of the hands of
criminals," the party's Home Affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said.
Marijuana legalization will now be a part of the party's national

There are an estimated 100,000 pot arrests per year in the UK, according
to data published by the ACMD. Over 90 percent of those arrests are for
possession only.
Decriminalizing marijuana would free up the equivalent of 500 police
officers, the Rowntree report estimated. Reclassifying cannabis would
also likely "remove some of the friction between the police and
communities that currently prevents more cooperative relationships," the
Foundation said.

Online copies of both reports are linkable from the NORML website.
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul
Armentano of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.