Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jan 2000
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd
Contact:  PO Box 496, London E1 9XN, United Kingdom
Fax: +44-(0)171-782 5046
Author: Matthew Atha


Sir, I welcome the news that the Police Foundation's inquiry into
drugs legislation (report, January 17) may recommend reducing the
burden on the criminal justice system from cannabis offences. However,
I am concerned about the level quoted to distinguish between
possession and supply.

Two grams of cannabis is less than the size of the most common "street
deal" (1/8oz or 3.5g), and is completely unrealistic as a limit.

Most users buy cannabis weekly, fortnightly or monthly, the average
use being around 1g per day.

The figure must surely be 2oz (56g or more probably 50g), which would
be similar to or lower than such limits in other European countries.

People growing their cannabis routinely face "supply" charges, as to
be self-sufficient at least two months' supply is needed per indoor
harvest, or a year if grown outdoors - prison sentences are common for
growers even with small domestic systems.

The suggestion that Ecstasy may be brought into line with its cousin
amphetamine is also long overdue, although users should be aware that
Ecstasy will do no less harm to serotonin synapses as a class B drug
than as a class A.

Clearly the committee of inquiry is concerned with political
expediency as much as with a sensible system of control and
regulation. Around one in 2,000 cannabis transactions comes to the
notice of the police; thus "parking" type fines would represent a very
inefficient form of "taxation" compared to excise duty.

Yours faithfully, MATTHEW ATHA, (,
Director, Independent Drug Monitoring Unit (IDMU Ltd), 
Freepost NWW11111, Wigan WN2  ---
MAP posted-by: Derek Rea