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UK: Downgrading Of Cannabis Put Off Till Next Year

Discussion in 'Marijuana News from The USA' started by weedboss, Jun 29, 2003.

  1. URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v03/n951/a02.html
    Newshawk: www.ccguide.org.uk
    Pubdate: Mon, 23 Jun 2003
    Source: Guardian, The (UK)
    Copyright: 2003 Guardian Newspapers Limited
    Contact: letters@guardian.co.uk
    Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardian/
    Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/175
    Author: Alan Travis


    Change To Penalties Depends On Passage Of Crime Bill

    Changes to the cannabis laws due this summer will not come into effect until January next year at the earliest, the Home Office has confirmed.

    When the home secretary, David Blunkett, announced his decision to relax the drug laws 12 months ago he said that he would "seek to reclassify cannabis" by this July.

    The Home Office now says that revised penalties for cannabis possession can only come into force after the criminal justice bill reaches the statute book. The bill is now facing a stormy passage through the House of Lords.

    MPs have also yet to vote on a separate resolution under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act that will downgrade cannabis from a class B drug ( alongside amphetamines and barbiturates ) to class C, with anabolic steroids and tranquillisers.

    The change will mean that police will lose the power of arrest in possession cases, except where there are aggravating factors. The maximum penalty for possession will be cut from five years to two.

    A Home Office spokesman said the delay was because the new penalties are included in the criminal justice bill: "This is a long and complex bill and the priority has been to ensure full discussion of its many provisions," he said.

    "Reclassification will take effect when the new penalties for cannabis possession are in force, which is likely to be in January."

    Andy Hayman, who chairs the drugs committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers, is at present finalising the official guidance to police officers on operation of the new law.

    There have been growing fears that the police will use the new guidance to restore their discretion to arrest somebody found in possession of cannabis. But the Home Office insists that, when the change does come into effect, most of the 80,000 or more adults fined each year for cannabis possession will henceforth face a warning and confiscation of the drug.

    "There will be a presumption against arrest, except where public order is at risk or where children are vulnerable," a Home Office spokesman said. "The police will also ensure that those who repeatedly flout the law are arrested and dealt with. Young people found in possession of cannabis will receive a formal warning at a police station."

    The police guidance is to be agreed at a meeting of chief constables next month, although some forces have argued that they must be allowed to decide when to make arrests.

    The government insists that the reclassification of cannabis does not amount to legalisation or decriminalisation. Indeed the penalties for dealing in and importing class C drugs are to be increased to a maximum of 14 years, so that there is no change to the penalties faced by dealers.

    The decision follows a report from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which says cannabis is not harmless but is less harmful than other class B drugs.

    But it is still expected that the first cannabis medicines to be available for more than 30 years will be licensed by the end of the year.

    The government's latest drugs information campaign, ( http://www.talktofrank.com& #041;talktofrank.com, launched last month, says casual smokers are unlikely to get hooked on cannabis and are more likely to become addicted to the nicotine in tobacco used to roll joints. But it does warn that regular heavy use may be more harmful than tobacco because "it has a higher concentration of chemical nasties that cause cancer".

    The Home Office said yesterday that it would adopt a proposal floated by Mr Blunkett this month to extend police powers to close down crack houses, cannabis cafes and the homes of cannabis users if they pose a serious nuisance to the neighbourhood. Leaked papers show that the proposal met opposition from health and housing ministers.

  2. it's all shit anyway.

    i can see the conservatives getting voted in next election, and i guarantee they'll revoke this new law.

    i've said it before here. the downgrade is just one big step back. it claims to lower punishments for users, when actually it will result in a sharp increase of less severe punishments i.e. fines.

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