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Source: Hull Daily Mail, UK

Pub Date: Monday, 15 July 2002

Pub LTE: Drugs policy doesn't work

Author: Alun Buffry>




Home Secretary, David Blunkett, announced on July 10, that he intended to reclassify cannabis as a class C drug but raise the maximum sentence for supply on class C drugs from five to 14 years.

This will mean that although the maximum sentence for possession of cannabis will be two years, instead of five, the maximum for supply of cannabis will not change.

Cannabis will join a list of class C pharmaceuticals such as Valium under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, despite it being a plant.

Many cannabis campaigners and professionals are disappointed with the announcement and even though there is progression in thought, the results may still be negative.

There will still be no safe place for users to interact socially as do people who drink alcohol.

I cannot see how these changes will help anyone except the police, who will save time through not having to arrest people caught with small amounts of cannabis.

I find the proposals unclear.

On the one hand Mr Blunkett is saying although cannabis is a dangerous drug (offering no evidence), it is less dangerous than other class B drugs, so penalties for possession will be reduced; he is saying the penalty for supplying cannabis will become the same for class C as for class B.

Mr Blunkett seems to have forgotten supply is driven by demand, which means the problem becomes uncontrollable if left outside of the law. Supplying cannabis is also highly profitable and untaxable.

With a lesser penalty on possession it is likely more people will smoke cannabis openly, thus introducing it to others.

If users are not allowed to grow it they can only buy it illegally.

The question is: What sort of people are going to sell what sort of cannabis?

If we are not careful the less discernible supplier will find a gateway to offer hard drugs.

Only legalisation can separate cannabis from hard drugs. This sort of half-measure and political appeasement will achieve little - especially because of the 12-month delay in changing the policy. People should be allowed to grow it.

Alun Buffry,