Source: Essex Chronicle, UK

Pub date: Thursday, February 17, 2005

Subj: Drugs Activist takes debate to the election

Author: John Peachey

Web: http://www.thisisessex.co.uk/


Veteran cannabis campaigner Don Barnard is to stand against the Home Secretary at the next general election. Don, who recently moved to Witham, hopes that by contesting Charles Clarke's seat in Norwich South, he will stimulate interest in the possibility of legalising the drug.


As a representative of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, Don said: "Mr Clarke has refused to discuss cannabis as an election issue, so I want to give it the prominence it deserves and get it debated.


"I want people to know the facts so that they can think critically, and exercise sound judgement based on facts rather than rely on chat show hosts and media hype."


In the past decade there had been a limited debate on allowing personal use and creating a legal regulated supply, but with no clear answers, he said.


"I want people to form opinions as to what the legislator has in mind when they resort to punishment for cannabis offences.


"At the moment the general public is confused and insufficiently informed."


The Home Secretary, he claimed, had said he has no respect for the legalise cannabis argument.


"I don't have all the answers, but I do know that talking about the issues will help solve the problems," said Don.


"We will supply the facts and let the electorate come to a consensus on how they think we can control cannabis.

 "The primary question is whether we can justify punishing people for cannabis possession or for growing a few plants when clearly no one benefits from the prosecutions.


"We believe current legislation has been counter-productive in its side effects, wasted public resources and been inhumane.


"Legalising it would reduce crime, promote education about its use, create therapeutic support, generate new public income and release police resources," he said.

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