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Thread: Brown Set to Regrade Cannabis As Class B Despite Experts' Advice

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    Brown Set to Regrade Cannabis As Class B Despite Experts' Advice

    Tougher laws on cannabis will be announced next week despite a report saying there is no scientific evidence for the change. Gordon Brown has decided to throw out the recommendation by a high-powered group of government advisers who say it should stay a "soft" drug. The Prime Minister will instead take a hard line, sending a message that drugs are dangerous to young people's health and heavily linked to serious crime. His stance was confirmed on the day that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was handing in an official report that is understood to recommend that cannabis should remain in the lowest category of illegal drugs, Class C.

    The advisory council is the most senior authority on drugs policy and was asked by Mr Brown to review the law amid concerns over stronger forms of cannabis such as skunk that are linked to mental illness in long-term abusers. With 23 experts in drugs and their treatment, the advisory council has never before been ignored by the Government.

    Mr Brown will not formally respond until next week when, the Standard has been told, he will declare his determination to upgrade it to a Class B substance.
    His stance will delight police chiefs but is bound to cause a row. The Liberal Democrats have already said the premier should not go against the experts. A Whitehall source said: "Mr Brown has made clear that notwithstanding the scientific evidence there are other considerations.

    "These include expressing concern about the involvement of serious crime in the cannabis trade and sending a signal, as a government and as a society, that this drug is a danger to health."

    At present, most adults found carrying cannabis are unlikely even to be arrested. Young people are most likely to be arrested and reprimanded. That may now change, however. As a Class B rather than a Class C drug, the maximum penalty for possessing cannabis will rise from two to five years. In both cases the maximum penalty for supply is 14 years.

    Cannabis was downgraded from a Class B drug to Class C in January 2004, with the aim of freeing police time to tackle harder drugs. The move came after former home secretary David Blunkett became convinced that it was far less of a threat than heroin and crack cocaine.

    But his stance was bitterly criticised by many experts, including former drugs czar Keith Hellawell, police chiefs and many doctors. They said it created confusion for police, teachers, parents and young people by sending out the wrong message.

    The Association of Chief Police Officers formally urged the advisory council to restore it to Class B.

    But the council accepted the findings of a study that rejected claims that increasing cannabis use in the Seventies, Eighties and early Nineties led to rises in schizophrenia later.

    Source: Evening Standard (London, UK)
    Copyright: 2008 Associated Newspapers Ltd.
    Website: London Entertainment Guide from The Evening Standard | This is London
    Last edited by Herb Fellow; 04-29-2008 at 04:34 PM.
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