A Public Discussion Document

Presented by
Don Barnard & Alun Buffry


The Letter sent to MPs
Replies from MPs

The outcome of the cannabis debate cannot be predicted but changes to the law must not take place without the most careful consideration of all the issues.
You have a legitimate and important role to play - but only if you are willing to ask and address tough questions about the successes or failures of past efforts and examine the intentions of proposed strategy

This will require a fresh approach:


1. International Treaty Considerations
2. Elements of Risk
3. Random Drug Testing
4. Drugs and Human Rights
5. Legalise Cannabis Alliance Principles and Proposals
6. Recommendations
7. Bibliography and Associated Reading

We believe that the prohibition of cannabis, presently embodied in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and associated legislation:
has:proved ineffective in the achievement of its objects,
been counter productive in its side-effects,
wasted public resources,
been destructive in its cultivation of criminality and
been inhumane in its operation.

A legal regulated control of cannabis, would:
reduce drug-acquisition crime,
facilitate the education both of the young and of adult users,
reduce the incidence of problematic drug use,
facilitate the deployment of therapeutic support,
release public and Police Service resources for other deployment,
constitute a system compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and
generate a new and acceptable source of public income.

We are concerned by the failure of our current democratic institutions and public authorities (as defined by the Human Rights Act) to address these issues.

To date, in a debate that asks whether cannabis use ought to be decriminalised or legalised, those who support current policies need not utter a single word in its defence. They can simply sit back and wait for their opponents to make predictions, and then challenge the accuracy of those predictions.


We believe this debate cannot proceed sensibly unless it begins with reasons in favour of punishing people who use cannabis.


This document is designed to assist you in you deliberations

To ensure constructive consultation we invite you to reproduce this document [unedited] and/or forward the URL

to anyone who you think needs to know the truth.

Know What You're Getting Into Before Speaking Against Legal Regulated Control


Agree? Disagree? If we were to ask: "What is the Government's 10-year Drugs Strategy on cannabis controls?" we doubt that 1 in 10,000 of the general public would have the foggiest notion what we were on about!

To increase the public understanding of the cannabis and the controversy surrounding it, the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA), registered as a UK political party from 1999 to 2006, invites you to participate in a open and honest dialogue regarding the future of UK cannabis control policies in which fear, prejudice and punitive prohibition yield to common sense, science, public health, human rights and practicality.

In the past decade there appears to have been a change in opinion about the harmfulness of cannabis.

There has also been a limited debate on allowing personal use of cannabis such as under 'reclassification', 'decriminalisation" and a legal regulated supply. However, it has not been as clear as what would be desirable or what the Government's intentions are.

Laws to combat drugs are like a jigsaw puzzle with the linking pieces missing, being regularly added by the Home Office with little or no parliamentary debate, let alone public discussion.

The public are forced to guess or rely on chat show hosts and media hype to form opinions as to what the legislator has in mind when they resort to punishment for cannabis offences. This has resulted in the general public becoming confused and insufficiently informed.

This is not surprising. Consecutive governments' "War on Drugs" has evolved into a complex and complicated system, misunderstood by most people, including many of those responsible for implementing Government Anti-Drugs policy!

Since the mid 1980s, consecutive UK governments have increased funding and actions to tackle illegal substances on five main fronts:
international co-operation,
prevention and

Estimated UK government funding in these areas for 1993-94 was 526 million. Today this figure is allegedly billions annually but there are no comprehensive figures available! [Tackling Drugs Together October 1994 ISBN O-10-126782-7]

Despite these increasing efforts, there can be little doubt that cannabis suppliers have succeeded in maintaining the supply to satisfy the ever-increasing demand. In fact, it is hard to see how they could have been more successful had cannabis not been banned!

It therefore makes sense to examine the successes and failures of past and present systems of control, to set out the available choices, to examine how they would work if applied in the UK and try to predict their likely consequences!

Is it worth doing? We think it is!

This consultation is for everyone with an interest in our drug policy, [including those who favour retaining criminal sanctions punishments]. We are confident it will:

help remove many of the misconceptions about cannabis and the law,
demonstrate that cannabis is so much more than a recreational substance,
show that many long-term social, ecological and economical benefits can be gained by rescheduling cannabis.

We ask you to accept that the current international conventions embodied in The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and consequential legislation no longer constitutes an appropriate form of social regulation, consistent with the UK's Human Rights commitments!

Why is it our legislators have absolutely nothing to say on behalf of the position they endorse? Instead, the public are forced to guess or rely on chat show hosts and media hype to form their opinions as to what the legislator has in mind when they resort to punishment for cannabis offences.

This is not good enough: The burden to produce justification must be placed on government!

However. Despite David Blunkett's request for a rational debate on allowing personal use of cannabis including proposals for reclassification, decriminalisation and a legal regulated supply it has not been as clear what the Government's or the Opposition party?s policies are on cannabis.

The Conservative Party has branded the Home Affairs Select Committee's recommendation to reclassify cannabis and governments proposed liberalisation of disposal of cannabis possession offences to finance the war on addictive substances as "muddled and dangerous policy".

Instead, they back Sweden?s strategy where the public report suspected drug users and a huge expansion of drug rehabilitation facilities and prisons to lock the non-conformist up - an approach described recently by David Blunkett as "unworkable".

George Orwell said: "Political language is designed to make a lie appear the truth and give solidity to wind"!

Today it would appear government is embarked on the dangerous USA coercive abstinence strategy, based on the belief that we can put enough people in prison to effectively control the drug problem. In other words, we will make the drug users get treatment or go to jail and put all the drug dealers or cannabis cultivators in jail.

Let's suppose we agree with this. Now, exactly how many prison cells will we need to build to carry out this plan? How many prisoners is the current plan going to take?

What is the total cost to date for drug testing alone? Is government minded to introduce universal drug testing?

What about human rights? How many people will lose a job or not get one, or have driving licences pulled because they use cannabis? How many children will be expelled from schools for testing positive for cannabis? In short, are we talking ourselves into a 'controlled' society?

If society is to achieve any success in its drug control and awareness programmes, we need to be truthful, use correct terminology and study the evidence and research already available.

We must examine:
the failures and successes of present and past control regimes,
how the implementation of law conflict with Human Rights, harm reduction, good practice,
the need to create a just and workable legislation that reduces harm from cannabis without infringing upon personal privacy and the rights to choose one's own lifestyle or belief,
legislation aimed at protection not punishment,
our own understanding and attitudes towards drugs use, misuse and abuse.

Note: The overwhelming majority of those who use cannabis are not 'problem users' and normal use ought not be labelled as misuse.

We must ask:

Would it be preferable to have a legal system of cannabis retail outlets incorporating all necessary quality control and harm reduction provisions, rather than a criminal justice issue?
What is the value, reliability, cost and the need for universal testing?
Whether we have good reasons to continue to punish people who use cannabis or grow a few plants for their own use or share with friends at home (non-commercial)?

The point is:
Punishment is the most powerful weapon in the CJS arsenal. It is the most terrible thing that any state can do to its citizens. These sanctions should not be invoked casually; they always require a compelling defence.

Any sort to punishment requires a justification. We must always be prepared to show why what we are doing is right. For no individual should be deprived of their liberty unless there are excellent reasons for doing so!

The basic question we ask is not whether we have good reasons not to punish cannabis users but whether we have good reasons to continue to punish people who use cannabis or grow a few plants for their own use or share with friends at home.

Are the laws just? Are they fair?



1.1 Part of the solution to protect otherwise law-abiding people who use cannabis from potential dangers, such as risk of imprisonment, exposure to bad quality cannabis and addictive substances and the general world of crime, would be to allow legal regulated outlets for supply and to allow people to grow a few plants at home! This would remove many of the dealers out of the equation, divorce the connections of cannabis with hard drugs and reduce exposure to crime.

1.2 Government insists that major changes to legislation is not possible because of the UK obligations to international treaties - THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE - If the UK decides that a system other than prohibition is most appropriate for protecting public health and welfare and for deterring illicit trafficking, the government is not obliged by virtue of the Single Convention to maintain a prohibition policy.

1.3 A legal regulated control of cannabis use and supply is an entirely legitimate collective purpose, enforceable with all appropriate civil and criminal sanctions and in accord with the UK Government's international obligations:

1.4 Consideration of the international treaties are vital to the discussion of cannabis policy:

1.5 The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961,
Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988

1.6 The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 [amended 1972]: [1]

1.6(1) Article 36 of The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 requires the signatories to adopt such measures to ensure that cultivation, production, manufacture, extraction, preparation, possession, offering, offering for sale, distribution, purchase, sale, delivery on any terms whatsoever, brokerage, dispatch, dispatch in transit, transport, importation and exportation of drugs contrary to the provisions of this Convention, and any other action which in the opinion of such Party may be contrary to the provisions of this Convention, shall be punishable offences when committed intentionally.

1.6(2) Paragraph 3 of Article 28; "The Parties shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to prevent the misuse of, and illicit traffic in, the leaves of the cannabis plant."

1.6(3) Article 22 of the Single Convention reads as follows: In all cases in which, in light of the circumstances prevailing in the country or area of a Party, prohibition of the cultivation of the poppy plant, coca plant or cannabis plant is, in the view of that Party, the most appropriate measure for protecting public health and welfare and to prevent the narcotic substances from finding their way to illicit trafficking, the Party involved can prohibit cultivation.

1.6(4) Article 2(5) requires:
(a) A Party shall adopt any special measures of control which in its opinion are necessary having regard to the particularly dangerous properties of a drug so included; and
(b) A Party shall, if in its opinion the prevailing conditions in its country render it the most appropriate means of protecting the public health and welfare, prohibit the production, manufacture, export and import of, trade in, possession or use of any such drug except for amounts which may be necessary for medical and scientific research only, including clinical trials herewith to be conducted under or subject to the direct supervision of the Party - It must be emphasised, however, that Article 2(5) is not mandatory. Rather, special measures of control can be imposed if, in the opinion of the Party, they are 'necessary' or 'appropriate'.

1.6(5) The 1972 Protocol added a second subparagraph (s-Para 1(b)) to Article 36, paragraph 1:
Notwithstanding the preceding subparagraph, when abusers of drugs have committed such offences, the Parties may provide, either as an alternative to conviction or punishment or in addition to conviction or punishment, that such abusers shall undergo measures of treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation and social reintegration. [1]

1.7 The Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988.
1.7(1) Among other things, this requires individual states - subject to their constitutional principles and the basic concepts of their legal systems - to establish the possession of cannabis, as a criminal offence under their domestic law. The states are free, however, to determine what level of sanctions to apply to such an offence in conformity with their domestic law. [1]
1.7(2) At face value, it is difficult to see how the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 could be amended within in the terms of the UN Conventions to allow 'a legal regulated supply'.
1.7(3) However, these treaties are much more subtle and flexible than they are sometimes interpreted. They provide provisions and discretion for varying interpretations to allow for alternatives to punishment. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7]
1.7(4) Nothing in the convention requires signatory States to establish the possession, purchase or cultivation of controlled cannabis for the purpose of non-medical, personal consumption as a criminal offence, if to do so would be contrary to the constitutional principles and the basic concepts of UK domestic legal system. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7]

1.8 "The term 'possession' used in the penal provisions of the Single Convention means only possession for the purpose of illicit traffic. Consequently, unauthorized possession and purchase of narcotic drugs including cannabis for personal consumption need not be treated as punishable offences or as serious offences".
[Adolf Lande, Sec. UN Permanent Central Narcotics Board and UN Drug Supervisory Body. and drafters of the 1961 Convention]. [1, 4]

1.9 "The requirement that Parties limit the use of drugs to medical and scientific purposes does not require them to attain that goal by providing penal sanctions for unauthorized 'use' or 'personal consumption' of drugs."
(Noll, senior legal officer of the United Nations Division of Narcotic Drugs) [1, 4]

1.10 "The word 'possession' in Article 36 refers not to possession for personal use but to possession as a link in illicit trafficking.' The Commission concluded that measures such as "an educational program and similar approaches designed to discourage use" could be employed to meet treaty obligations."
(U.S. National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse) [1, 4]

1.11 "...[none] of the three international drug Conventions insist on the establishment of drug consumption per se as a punishable offence. Only the 1988 Convention clearly requires parties to establish as criminal offences under law the possession, purchase or cultivation of controlled drugs for the purpose of non-medical, personal consumption, unless to do so would be contrary to the constitutional principles and basic concepts of their legal system... None of the Conventions requires a party to convict or punish those who commit such offences, even when they have been established as punishable; alternative measures may always substitute for criminal prosecution."
[United Nations Drug Control Panel, World Drug Report, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997:185].
"Cannabis has been demonised by being placed on the wrong side of the law for reasons that are purely historical. It did not happen to be in common use in the developed world when the international conventions on drugs were first signed. Now it is, and the law is out of date."
FRANCIS WILKINSON, Chief Constable of Gwent from 1997 to 1999. "Human Rights Act will make cannabis legal", The Times, 20 February 2001.

1.12 Summary
1.12(1) It is possible to modify the prohibitionist regime presently in force throughout the world by the presentation by one or more governments of instruments of denunciation or amendment of the Conventions, according to the procedures specified in these Conventions.
1.12(2) While the purely repressive nature of the 1988 Convention leaves no room for improvement, the 1961 Convention - and consequently that of 1971 - can be amended in such a way as to extend the exclusively medical and scientific uses to other uses with regard to the manufacture, export, import, distribution, trade, use and possession of legally controlled drugs, while at the same time continuing to prohibit the use of certain particularly dangerous substances.
1.12(3) Government can present amendments to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 - in accordance with Article 47 of said Convention - that will result in the calling of a Conference of the Contracting Parties regarding said amendments.
1.12(4) A country may denounce the Vienna Convention on Illicit Traffic of 1988 in accordance with Article 30 of said Convention.
1.12(5) The most recent development in this direction is to be discussed at the UN Conventions - Mid-term Review Conference on UN Drugs Policies, April 16 and 17 2003:
The IA the PAA (Parliamentarians for Antiprohibitionist Action have prepared an International Appeal for the reform of the UN Conventions on Drugs addressed to the Secretary-General and the Member States of the United Nations. [28]

1.13 Having established IT IS POSSIBLE TO AMEND The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971:
1.13(1) There appears to be many options when discussing the how to control cannabis in the United Kingdom, from maintaining the law in its entirety [some even support strengthening the law] to full legal control.
1.13(2) However, it is difficult to assess what the advocates mean by these various proposals, what difference they will make [if any]. It therefore makes sense to analyse these options and their possible affect and the practicalities of implementing them in the United Kingdom;
1.14 Status quo:
1.14(1) A retention of the present misuse of Drugs Act 1971 [and regulations and statutory orders made there under] where all acts involving cannabis [without a licence] are illegal and punishable by a reprimand through to imprisonment. (i.e. depending on where you live and what Guidelines the Chief Constable has issued to his officers and the discretion on the interacting officers).
1.14(2) It must be remembered a Chief Constable wealds a lot of power in the way resources are used to tackle crime in the area under his command. Consequently, each Chief Constable [in consultation with the community] can prioritise criminal acts and place his resources to suit the communities concerns and requirements.
1.14(3) Commander Brian Paddick (formerly of Lambeth), after consultation with the local communities and in accord with the Association of Chief Polices Officers' Guidelines, decided that arresting and prosecuting people for a small amount of cannabis was not reducing offending. It was not getting results and proving a drag on resources. He decided to transfer the resources to crimes of concern to the community.
1.14(4) This policy has nothing to do with legalisation or changing the law or concern for cannabis users getting a criminal record, as some would have you believe. It was an operational decision.
1.14(5) In Brixton, Police Officers have been given Guidelines not to prosecute minor infringements of cannabis found in a search. Instead they issue a formal recorded warning and confiscate the cannabis at street level.
1.14(6) In practice this means that if you are searched in Brixton and found in possession of a small amount of cannabis [that can reasonably be consider for ones own use] and no other crime is involved you will probably not get arrested but instead get a recorded warning,
1.14(7) However, it does not follow you cannot get arrested at all. Remember it all depends on the individual officer's discretion.
1.14(8) It should also be noted here that in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in line with the Guidelines of the Association of Chief Police Officers, any constable, regardless of rank, who interacts with a person found in possession of cannabis, can exercise his discretion not to prosecute and confiscate the contraband and warn the offender instead.
1.14(9) However, officers outside Brixton would be unable to give a formal warning without arresting the offender and taking them to the police station involving unnecessary expenses [wasting of resources] to receive the warning from a senior officer.
1.14(10) Clearly, there is an urgent need to consider the issue of consistency between and across police forces (i.e. for the same offence you should be dealt with in the same way across the country)!

1.15 Decriminalisation:
1.15(1).The central feature of decriminalisation is that possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal consumption, sharing a 'joint' or giving without exchange, cease to be a criminal acts. All other forms of traffic, cultivation or possession of large amounts remain illegal. There may also be civil sanctions applied.
1.15(2) This is not without its problems since the act of obtaining possession either by purchase or cultivation remains prohibited. What would be the source of supply?
1.15(3) Another dubiety would be the designated amount allowed as personal use. For example, if bought from an illegal supplier on a daily basis a person would not likely to be caught with an amount to warrant prosecution. However, a person who grows his plants at home, aside from being prosecuted for cultivation, would be at risk of prosecution for possession with intent to supply. In reality they have only got the equivalent of that purchased daily by their counterpart over a year.
1.15(4) It is suggested these difficulties could be avoided to some extent by introducing a fixed, light or nominal penalty for cultivation for personal use but this would amount to a change in penalties rather than a change in law.

1.16 Class
1.16(1) One does not have to be a professor to see that the proposed change in law on cannabis will not have any effect on the decrease of crime in the UK. The intended goal of the reclassification of cannabis to class C was to get free up more PC's to fight serious and organised crime. Criminals have had the drugs trade in their firm grip for decades, with all involved threats and dangers to society.
1.16(1) Under the new cannabis legislation, which will become active in July 2003, one may no longer be arrested for smoking a joint in the privacy of your home - but not with underage children present. Yet the penalty for possessing or using cannabis for social purposes, without a clear limited quantity, will be up 2 years imprisonment, if the police choose to prosecute, with or without arrest.
1.16(2) Government intends to go tougher on people that supply others with cannabis. The penalty for the supply of class C drugs, which will include cannabis, will be increased to a maximum of 14 years, as for class B drugs. Cannabis cafes or shops will not be allowed under the new law and , if they supply cannabis, the owners will be punished severely.
1.16(3) The Government has left no room for the distribution of cannabis. There will be no legal supplies. As yet, there is no special law on growing cannabis but growers may be considered as suppliers and face up to 14 years imprisonment.
1.16(4) Mr Blunkett has given them some kind of protection to the drug traders. By ruling out any possible competition, growers and eventual cannabis shops, the cannabis users who should benefit from Blunkett's move will still have to buy their low-grade cannabis from shady figures who may also be involved in dealing Class A and B substances.
1.16(5) Many cannabis growers will stop growing, enlarging the market share for organised crime, who will import more low grade and polluted 'soap bar' hash to supply to their customers.
1.16(6) The use of cannabis in general will probably increase, not because more people will start using it but because the present smokers may start using it more often once the threat of prosecution is taken of their mind. Another increase in business for organised crime.
1.16(7) Mr Blunkett surely must have thought of this. We suppose it will be part of some special tactic. If not, they messed up big time!
1.16(8) Governments made prohibition - prohibition made organised crime -, now, a new form of prohibition is boosting organised crime.
1.16(9) Besides this major flaw, there is another downside. The new law will cause a lot of arrests of people that supply or grow cannabis. Where is the government going to put all the growers and suppliers of cannabis that it intends to arrest and lock up for years? The prison system is a few days away from being on full capacity. This will cost a lot of money. More than the 50 million pounds could be saved by stopping prosecution for personal use of cannabis.
1.16(10) There can only be one conclusion: the proposed change of law will not have the intended effect. On the contrary, it will benefit organised crime and will cost the community more than ever before.
1.16(11) However, 'cannabis cafes', excluded in Blunkett's scheme, would separate the trade in cannabis from the trade in Class A and B drugs, and would offer good quality cannabis, for a fair price, in a safe environment. They would also employ staff , pay business rates, rent and all other duties involved, which would put the money back into UK society, without taking anything out of it.
1.16(12) Instead of responding to the need of cannabis outlets, the UK have to start building more prisons, out of a budget that will not be able to cover it - The taxpayer looses, as usual.
Nol van Schaik
Haarlem, the Netherlands, July 12, 2002.

1.17 Although well intentioned none of the above address the problems associated with illicit the supply of cannabis or help those who are unfortunate to have lost control of harmful substances

1.18 Legal Regulate Supply
1.18(1) Part of the solution to protect otherwise law-abiding people who use cannabis from the potential danger such as risk of imprisonment, exposure to bad quality cannabis and addictive substances and the general world of crime, would be to allow legal regulated outlets for supply and to allow people to grow a few plants at home.
1.18(2) Facilitating the participation of all relevant interests, including cannabis users and those concerned with medical and related services, law and fiscal enforcement, producers, distributors and retailers a legal regulated supply will establish product purity standards, issue guidelines upon health risks or other precautionary provisions,
1.18(3) Above all, it would enable supplies to be accepted and controlled


2.1 We often hear the phrase 'harm reduction' in relation to cocaine and heroin users and addicts, but we seldom hear anything about harm reduction for cannabis use. The real risks from illegal cannabis use need to be recognised and tackled.

2.2 Are we to assume that Government, despite its own warnings that cannabis is a dangerous substance, does not consider it important to advise cannabis users on safer use? The idea that cannabis ought to be criminalized because it is harmful is a key feature of the authoritarian mindset. It's an idea that allows for criminalising just about any imaginable activity, since almost nothing in this world is harmless. Cannabis isn't harmless, but it isn't nearly as harmful as many substances we consume every day. [12, 13]

2.3 There have been so many reports and studies on the physical and psychological risks of cannabis use that it would not be possible to list them here. [1] For a review of this scientific evidence [8, 13]

2.4 Here are two astounding conclusions:
2.4(1) "In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death." DEA Judge Francis Young [12]
2.4(2) "Cannabis is remarkably safe. Although not harmless, it is surely less toxic than most of the conventional medicines it could replace if it were legally available. Despite its use by millions of people over thousands of years, cannabis has never caused an overdose death." Lester Grinspoon, MD, Harvard Medical School.

2.5 In spite of all the efforts to prove otherwise, medically, socially and even chemically it would be hard to find a substance safer than cannabis. Small minorities of people do suffer some negative effects when using cannabis, but this number is extremely small. Some people may experience unwelcome effects. If this happens they should stop using it. Cannabis is unique among intoxicants in that all harmful effects are reversible on cessation of use. The biggest health RISK for cannabis users is not that cannabis per se is harmful, but maybe the way cannabis is used combined with tobacco. Those using cannabis-tobacco combinations experience the effect of two drugs. People are introduced to tobacco from smoking joints. Smoking tobacco on its own doesn't give the same experience. [9, 10, 11]

2.6 Many users may feel a need for a joint, not realising that it is their tobacco addiction. Clearly, it is not a good thing if people who use tobacco in joints start smoking at regular intervals in order to satisfy the craving for tobacco products with all the attached risks!

2.7 Another serious problem is the so-called 'Soap Bar Hash' (also called 'Moroccan'). This may be polluted with all sorts of unknown dangerous substances. [14, 15]

2.8 The main "non-health" risk to the individual cannabis users, besides that of prosecution, is exposure the hard drugs and criminal activities through their visit to an illegal cannabis supplier, That is particularly important for young people, many of whom become alienated from a society that appears to condemn them to criminality - and remember that a very large number of young people use cannabis, no doubt a much higher number than suggested by surveys.
Any sensible and just legislation must tackle these risks!

"Relatively few adverse clinical effects from the chronic use of marijuana have been documented in humans. However, the criminalization of marijuana use may itself be a health hazard, since it may expose the users to violence and criminal activity"
The Kaiser Permanente Study - "Marijuana Use and Mortality" April 1997 American Journal of Public Health.



Know What You're, Getting Into Before Speaking up for random drug testing!

3.1 Government policy is emulating the USA with a coercive abstinence agenda. [16. 17]

3.2 Random testing and passive 'sniffer' dogs for recent use of illegal substances has become the central point of our Government's anti-drug strategy. Everyone over the age of 18 (and the Government wants to reduce this to 14) who comes into contact with the criminal justice system is tested for drugs. But this is not exclusive to criminals it also applies to people visiting rehabilitation centres and clinics, anyone in private or state schools, members of the armed forces and of course drivers, to name but a few.
Note: at present cannabis use is not tested for in the criminal justice system.

3.3 The next thing on the Government's agenda is random drug testing of all workers. [25]
Except for the police that is! Commissioner Sir John Stevens Britain's most powerful policeman (a supporter of random testing for illicit substance use) is on record that he did not intend to test officers under his command (43 forces in England and Wales), maybe because he feared catching so many and have to sack them at a time he was having a job to recruit officers! [29]
3.3(1) Government has been introducing drug and alcohol screen test by stealth with little or no attention being taken of this draconian measure. Lest you think we exaggerate.
in a dramatic policy shift, Keith Hellawell, the drugs czar, and government ministers have started encouraging drug testing by employers. They are following a quiet revolution, largely unreported because firms have been scared of bad publicity.
(Dr Patrick Dixon. Times, Thursday November 5 1998).Although, the drug testing is a civil liberties minefield, the health and Safety Executive is quietly encouraging business to act, The Government will doubtless look at the United States for a lead, where random screening is common place.
(Civil Liberties on way out. Nick Hopkins; Guardian Saturday October 3, 1998)

3.4 Drug testing advocates claim that illegal drug use costs companies billions in accidents, lost productivity and absenteeism - yet they produce no real evidence in support of this! [16, 17, 18, 30]

3.5 Drug tests in the workplace have little to do with health and safety and a lot to do with controlling workers and propping up the Government's ailing anti-drug war. They are often violations of civil liberties. What right does an employer have to control out-of-work activities when they don't affect work? [16, 17, 18]

3.6 Drug tests tell more about a person than just use of illegal drugs. An employer can find out whether a person is pregnant, or taking prescribed drugs. [16, 17]

3.7 Unscrupulous employers may turn people down for employment because their condition may prove expensive in the future. [16]

3.8 Drug tests are notoriously fallible, and false-positive results are common. Drug test companies' literature admits that they cannot test for impairment and that the false positive rate using proper laboratory practice is around 5%. Add into that bad sample management and laboratory practice and the proportion of false positives could be as high as 20%. [16, 17]

3.9 Cannabis hemp seed oils have shown false positive results for cannabis on tests in the USA. [17]. Considering a person can absorb substance through the skin, anyone using Tan Stand Shops should also be wary. Oils used contain cannabis hemp seed oils.

3.10 Many over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs (non-steroids anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Ibuprofen, Avil, Nuprin, Pamprin, Anaprox, Tolectin, Ifenoprofen, Lodine, Motrin (to name but a few) also show up for illegal cannabis use on many tests.

3.11 Public authorities should be wary of taking disciplinary action on one of these tests, because it would be strongly arguable in tribunal that such disciplinary action was unfair. Anyway, if an employee's drug use in or out of work is affecting their work performance, then that should be obvious to their superior, if they are a good man-manager. [16, 17]

"Government officials have a vested interest in getting corporate America to underwrite their war on drugs. To that end they've disingenuously lumped together employees who come to work impaired by drug use or alcohol with employees who use drugs off the job, labelling them collectively bad for business. The real questions for managers today are how much lost productivity is attributable to resources diverted for universal or random drug testing and how many excellent employees have been fired or never hired due to invasive drug screenings? Savvy stockholders might be interested." 'Junk science drove America to drug testing', St. Petersburg Times, January 30, 2000.


4.1 The hopes of reformers were high that the Human Rights Act 1998 [19] would strengthen the drive for drugs law reform. The incorporation into English law of the rights of privacy in Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights offered to defendants the real prospect of a defence against drug-possession and personal consumption charges. Prosecution for personal consumption constituted an "interference" with the defendants "private life", the reformers reasoned, which could not be justified under the specific terms of the Convention. Those arguments remain strong, and persuasive.

4.2 So persuasive indeed, that the UK prosecuting authorities now avoid simple "possession" charges altogether. They have clearly come to the same conclusion, about Article 8. Attractive "deals" are now commonly offered to those charged with "minor" personal possession offences. All the indications are that full criminal proceedings are now being limited to the "aggravated" charges - possession of large quantities of drugs (in excess of personal consumption requirements), dealing or "trafficking", supply to minors, growing or manufacturing prohibited substances, and permitting the use of premises for drugs purposes. This self-imposed restriction itself constitutes a victory for the human rights cause.

4.3 But the victory is of limited scope. For the Human Rights Act (Article 8) does not offer any defence to these "aggravated" charges.

4.4 Article 8 continues, however, to exercise its influence. There is a powerful Article 8 case to be made against the appalling Regulations which classify drug consumption (including cannabis) as a "relevant disability" justifying the withdrawal of a driving licence. Mandatory drug testing [20, 21] poses a range of different issues, according to its administrative context. Testing by private employers remains a matter of personal contract, falling outside the Human Rights Act. For public employees, its legality will turn on its relevance to the functions performed by the employee. And within the context of judicial proceedings, its legality will turn on its precise statutory context: there is no neat Yes/No test. But we should continue to monitor the gradual creep of drugs testing, and remain vigilant to identify its abuse.

4.5 The Human Rights Act has played a leavening role in that wider sea-change of public and political opinion. Nine MPs and one British MEP are now publicly committed to the legalisation of all drugs.

4.6 It is true that the prosecuting authorities, by adopting a sophisticated enforcement strategy, have avoided any high-level challenge in the Court of Appeal, where it really matters. But nobody should lose faith with Article Eight. This great human rights declaration has already softened the style of public law enforcement in the UK, and it retains huge potential to drive back the boundaries of abuse by public authorities.

4.7 And it remains true that, while the statutory drugs-prohibition regime remains in place, the judicial process will remain a cat-and-mouse game, with reformers constantly harassing the Authorities. It is only the comprehensive legalisation of supply and consumption that will bring to individuals the full recognition of their personal freedom and the sovereignty of their personal judgment in the conduct of their own lives. That is a worthy goal, and Article 8 will continue to offer support to those seeking to achieve it.
Written by Roger Warren Evans [24] Barrister at Law Secretariat Angel Declaration [18] February 2003


5.1 Principles
?We believe the use of cannabis ought to be a matter of choice and not of law.
? We believe that the prohibition of cannabis is against the public interest.
? We believe that the prohibition of cannabis contravenes Human Rights.
? We believe that the prohibition of cannabis inhibits the use of a beneficial resource.
? We believe that the legalisation of cannabis is a very important step that should be taken to benefit the people and their environment.
5.2 Proposals
? That cannabis and cannabis products should be removed from the UK Misuse of Drugs Act, thereby being legalised.
? That the possession, cultivation and use of pure cannabis and cannabis products be free from prosecution.
? That cannabis be re-introduced into our society.
? That high priority be given to the cultivation of cannabis for the express purpose of the localised production of virtually cost-free fuels through the process of pyrolysis on cannabis biomass, and as a source of fibre and hurd.
? That provision be made to enable the setting up of public establishments where the use of cannabis is permitted.
? That provision be made to enable the setting up of outlets for the legal supply of cannabis.
? That at least the same level of protection be given to the cannabis consumer as is given to the consumers of other commodities: weights and measures, quality etc.
? That all prisoners presently held only on cannabis convictions or charges be released from custody without delay and that all criminal records for cannabis offences be expunged.


6.1 The risks and damage created for the cannabis user through the law itself outweighs the risks of using cannabis itself. The law fails to control quality or source of supply and continues to alienate large sections of society, leaving millions of people of all ages to the agendas of criminalised suppliers, some of whom may expose cannabis users to hard drugs and criminal activity.

6.2 Legislation ought to be directed at protection, not control, with help and safety advice available when required.

6.3 There is a powerful argument for allowing the introduction of "cannabis cafes", similar to the Dutch model that has successfully reduced drugs harm in Holland
6.4 Any future cannabis legislation ought to incorporate the interests of society and the individual, and be based upon the principles of international law, risk management and effective policing.

6.5 We recommend that Government establish a forum involving cannabis (drug) users as well as criminal justice employees and drug agencies.

"Penalties against a drug should not be more dangerous to the individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana."
US President Jimmy Carter

1: International Drug Treaties:
2: The Single Convention And Drug Policy Reform: "Regulating Cannabis" Conference, London, September 5th 1998
3: European Drug Laws: Room for Manoeuvre - Nicholas Dorn and Alison Jamieson (DrugScope} March 2002
4: Alternative Systems of Cannabis Control in New Zealand - Drug Policy Forum Trust, Wellington July 1997
5: Impact of Normalising of Drugs Use
6: Policing Cannabis Reclassification - easy as A B C Geoff Monaghan Jan/Feb 2002
7: Dutch Situation and International Law:
8: Exposing Marijuana Myths: by Lynn Zimmer, Associate Professor of Sociology Queens College and John P. Morgan, Professor of Pharmacology, City University Medical School
9: Toke Pure
10: Tobacco and Cannabis
11: ASH website<
12: Opinion and Recommended Ruling, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision of Administrative Law Judge. Francis l. Young
13: Is Cannabis Use a Risk to Health? A Look at the Evidence
14: Just Say 'no' to Polluted Hash
15: Smoking Soap = Smoking Poison http:/
16: You the Jury: Cannabis Law and Drug Testing.
17: Drug Testing at Work a Bad Investment. 1999 report of the American Civil Liberties Union (PDF format).
18: The Angel Declaration
19: Human Rights Act
20. Taking the Piss - Drug Testing at Work
21. Drug Testing Articles in the Press Around the World
22. DrugScope Advice
23 Cannabis Misconceptions>
24. Roger Warren Evans: speech on Human Rights
25. 26. Don Barnard: speech at LCA Conference 2001
27. Alun Buffry: speech at LCA Conference 2001



The Letter sent to MPs
Replies from MPs