Legalise Drug To Reap Benefits:  Campaigner says new cannabis laws do not go far enough


Source: Evening News, Norwich

Pub Date: Friday, 23 January 2004

Subj: Legalise Drug To Reap Benefits


Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance



Legalise Drug To Reap Benefits


Campaigner says new cannabis laws do not go far enough


DOWNGRADING cannabis to a Class C drug does not go far enough and could even put people's health at greater risk, a Norwich campaigner said today.


City man Alun Buffry, who is the national coordinator for the Legalise Cannabis Association (sic), called for the drug to be made totally legal to allow the quality of the plant to be regulated.


And he also believed reclassification of the drug could also lead to vulnerable people becoming easy targets for the hard-drug dealers.


Mr Buffry said: "I'm not too keen, as classifying it as a Class C drug really doesn't make a lot of difference to cannabis and the problems associated with it.  It makes it more likely that people will try it.  But the problem is nothing is done about being able to grow it or buy it."


He said people who already bought the drug from a reliable source were relatively safe, but feared newcomers to the substance could approach hard-drug dealers, who could then tempt them into taking more dangerous drugs - such as cocaine or heroin.


"It will make people easier prey for the hard drug dealers.  Without tackling supply, it's pointless", Mr Buffry added.


"If people could grow and buy it legally it would keep them out of the criminal world.  It would also keep control on quality.


"Once people cross the line into breaking the law they are criminals and tend to mix together.  I don't see why they should be criminals for growing or smoking a plant."


Penny McVeigh, chief executive of Norfolk drug and alcohol support service Norcas, felt the downgrading was more politically motivated than anything else.  She said: "My personal understanding of the political ramifications is that it's about freeing up police time.  I think that's one thing that needs to be remembered."


Ms McVeigh's views were yesterday reinforced by remarks made by Tory leader Michael Howard, who said a future Conservative government would reverse Labour's downgrading of the drug.


Home Officer drugs minister Caroline Flint said: "Cannabis is harmful and will remain illegal after January 29, when it is reclassified to class C.


"That is the simple message.  By reclassifying cannabis we are being honest to young people about the harm cannabis can cause in comparison to drugs such as crack and heroin."


The Government is reclassifying cannabis as part of its overall drug strategy to focus on more harmful Class A drugs, especially heroin and cocaine.


The use of cannabis in treating chronic medical conditions is already being investigated at a Norfolk hospital.

Dr William Notcutt, a consultant anaesthetist at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, conducted Britain's first clinical trial of cannabis as a medicine more than three years ago.

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