LONDON -- Britain will respond this week to a surge in cannabis use by
easing laws and allowing marijuana users to smoke without fear of arrest.

Pressure from police, medical experts and politicians for Britain to take a
less punitive approach has swayed Home Secretary David Blunkett, who is
expected to downgrade marijuana today to a low-risk category of drug.

The downgrade would make possessing small amounts of marijuana or smoking it
in private a nonarrestable offense.

A report published in 2001 showed cannabis was the most commonly used
illicit drug in the European Union, with at least one in 10 adults in the
15-nation group having used it.

Blunkett is also expected to stress that the drug will not be legalized and
announce plans to double the maximum sentence for dealing to 10 years.

Researchers say that relaxing cannabis laws could save Britain around $77
million a year and free up 500 police officers.

In Nevada: Voters will decide in November whether to let adults legally
possess up to 3 ounces of pot, officials said Tuesday.

Under the proposal, marijuana would be sold in state-licensed shops and
taxed like cigarettes and other tobacco products.

To become law, the change needs voter approval this year and in 2004.
Whether it could actually take effect is unclear. Federal law bans marijuana

Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jul 2002
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2002 Detroit Free Press
Author: Kate Kelland, Reuters
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)