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UK: Labour Turns New Leaf On Cannabis

The Guardian

Friday 26 Oct 2001


Drugs: The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, moved to relax cannabis laws, in
proposals that many said amounted to back door decriminalisation.

David Blunkett proposed "the biggest reform of British drugs policy in
modern times" (Independent) on Tuesday, when he announced that he wanted to
reclassify cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug, putting it in the
same category as anti-depressants. cannabis possession and supply would
remain a criminal offence, but, instead of arresting people for possession
police would issue a warning or a court summons. Blunkett said the move
would free up police resources and time for fighting crime associated with
harder drugs. He also signalled support for the wider use of cannabis for
medical purposes. But for some pro-cannabis groups the move didn't go far

From the Guardian, Oct 24. Where Jack Straw refused to tread, David
Blunkett has boldly moved... He need have no fear of protests from either
public or the police. Opinion polls show widespread public support ...
Parents are acutely aware that a war on drugs, while cannabis is still
illegal, is a war on their children. up to 50% try the drug ... Police
chiefs have a different objection: the diversion of police time.

From the daily Mail, Oct 24. His is a brave move, but there are dangers,
too. Relaxing the law will probably lead to a more widespread use of
cannabis. there are long-term health risks, which will impose further
strain on our cash-strapped NHS. And might not increased exposure to
"soft" drugs lead on to the use of crack and heroin? Make no mistake.
There will now be even greater pressure for full-blown legalisation of
cannabis, a development that would have consequences nobody can foresee.

From the Mirror, Oct 24. In 1999, 68% of the yearly total of 120,000
drugs offences were cannabis related, each taking officers up to three
hours to process. this is clearly a ludicrous situation and the home
secretary ... is right to propose reclassifying cannabis.

Alan Buffry of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance on its website, Oct 23.
Cannabis crimes are victimless crimes. the cultivation, possession and
even the supply of pure cannabis are not hurtful or malicious acts and
people ought not to be punished. (From

From the Independent, Oct 24. [This] is a belated concession to reality,
but still very welcome ... We are troubled, however, by one niggling
question. Was it by chance that such an eye-catching development was made
public towards the end of the day that also saw the Commons debate on
"spin-meisterin" Jo Moore? It is such a seemingly politicised timing that
makes journalists, and the voting public, so cynical




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