Source: Worthing Herald, UK

Pub Date: Thursday, 1 November 2001

Subj: UK Four months on, and it's all gone to pot for Chris

Author: Huw Borland

Section: News people


Marijuana users caught by Worthing police will only get a warning if the Home Secretary's recent

proposals are passed.

David Blunkett's motion to reclassify cannabis, from class B to class C, could have dramatic

consequences for police enforcement, drug users and public spending on drug prosecutions.

Under reclassification, possession of a small amount of cannabis would not be an arrestable


The still illegal drug would be confiscated and the perpetrator would get a warning, as opposed

to being arrested and, subsequently, receiving a criminal record.

Chris Baldwin, of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, was delighted with Mr Blunkett's announcement

last week.

Mr Baldwin was the LCA's East Worthing and Shoreham parliamentary candidate in the last

general election and his 920 votes were the second highest LCA result in Britain.

He said: "It's safe to say our campaign's been in smug mode. I'm not satisfied but it's a step

in the right direction. It's been called a stalling measure for the full legalisation of cannabis. The government was not going to give it all in one day.

"It wil be small steps from reclassification, to decriminalisation and then to legalisation, which is our final goal."

Mr Baldwin, of Worthing, felt the need to reclassify was partly due to how enforcing laws on cannabis drained police resources.

He said: "Mr Blunkett's decision comes along on a pragmatic basis - not because of human rights.

"The process of locking cannabis users up, detaining them, custody officers, interviews,

usually the person requests a duty solicitor - it's costly."

Mr Baldwin strongly supported the current police procedure of informing parents when minors are caught in possession of cannabis.

"That process should remain, if you look at my original election leaflet, the protection of

children was part of my mandate," he said.

Mr Baldwin added: "Possibly more people would now be inclined to try it because they do not

have to cross the line of illegality. If you take away the illegality, you lose that mystification.

"Alcohol and cigarettes are legal and most of us know people who do not smoke and drink -

it's a matter of adult choice."

MP for Worthing West Peter Bottomley said: "I hope that as many people as possible will avoid

as many addictions as possible.

"Alcohol addiction causes tragedy, tobacco causes premature death and illness, illegal drugs are associated with wrecked lives as well as misery for the victims of crimes committed to fund a drug habit.

"I'd like to hear greater justification for what the home secretary is proposing." He continued: "My overall message for people seeking advice, if you have the choice of picking up a socially acceptable drug habit, its best not to."

The effect of the proposals on police enforcement have been tested out in Lambeth since July.


Inspector Allan Lowe, sector commander for Worthing, said: "Police are here to enforce and uphold the law, and will do that no matter what the law is."