CANNABIS DOWNGRADE IS 'SIGN OF THE TIMES' SAYS LABOUR MP
Source: Essex Enquirer [UK]
Pub Date: Thursday 29th January 2004
Author: Gina Marden firstname.lastname@example.org
Cited: LCA http://www.lca-uk.org
CANNABIS DOWNGRADE IS 'SIGN OF THE TIMES SAYS LABOUR MP
THE Government's reclassification of cannabis has been branded "misguided" and utterly wrong by Essex Tory MP's.
From today (Thursday), the government has downgraded the drug from a class B to a class C.
But the move, which sees the cannabis in the same Category as tranquillises and steroids, has been blasted by opposition MP's.
John Baron, Tory MP for Billericay called - the reclassification "utterly wrong".
'This downgrade creates the impression that the government is going soft on drugs," he said.
"We should adopt a tougher approach towards pushers and addicts."
Mr Baron said the government is "out of touch with the reality" of cannabis and evidence showing its harmful effects on health.
And Tory MP for Upminster, Angela Watkinson called the government's £1M advertising campaign, designed to warn the public of the drug's illegality a 'damage limitation exercise'.
She told The Enquirer, "We should be preventing young people from using drugs. It's no good curing one addict if two more come along."
Home secretary, David Blunket said the move would allow police to concentrate on tackling class A drugs such as cocaine and heroine.
Under the legislation it is still illegal to possess, supply or deal in cannabis. Possessing the drug with intent to supply carries a maximum 14
An Essex Police spokesman said the force vowed to follow ACPO guidelines and lean toward issuing warnings where the quantity suggests personal use.
Amid mounting Criticism for the new legislation, Labour MP's in the county reiterated their support,
Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, said relaxing the law 'recognises the reality' of the vast number of people using cannabis.
"We don't want to criminalise a whole generation. It's right to allow police to concentrate resources on tackling more serious drugs," he said
But Don Barnard, a Chelmsford spokesperson for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance said the reclassification would not help the situation.
“We should be concerned about the health of users, "he told The Enquirer.
"Let's get real, bad things happened under the previous law, why will the reclassification improve the situation?"