Source: Yorkshire Post

Website: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk

Author: Alun Buffry

Date: 17 Jul 2002




The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, announced on July 10 that he intended to reclassify cannabis as a class C drug while raising the maximum sentence 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. The Home Secretary did not refer to sentences for cultivation.

Cannabis will join a list of pharmaceuticals, such as valium and steroids, as a class C drug under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act despite the fact that it is a plant.

Many cannabis campaigners and professionals are disappointed with the announcement and concerned that although there may appear to be some progression in thought, the results may be negative, for there will still be no legal supply routes and no safe place for users to interact socially, as do people who choose to drink alcohol.

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

I find the proposals very unclear in the message. On the one hand, Mr Blunkett is saying that 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; on the other hand, he is saying that the penalty for supplying cannabis will become the same for class C as for class B.

Mr Blunkett seems to have forgotten that supply is driven by demand and is uncontrollable if left outside of the law. It is also highly profitable and untaxable. With a lesser penalty on possession, it is likely that more people will smoke cannabis more openly, thus introducing it to more others. This will lead to an increase in demand.

If users are not allowed to grow it, then 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 cannabis supplier will find a gateway to offer hard drugs.

Only legislation bringing it within the law can separate cannabis from hard drugs. This sort of half-measure and political appeasement will achieve little especially little by delaying the change another 12 months. People should be allowed to grow it. I can only wonder what smoke signals are the Government sending us?

A Buffry, Legalise Cannabis Alliance, Norwich

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