Pubdate: Sat, 14 Oct 2000
Source: Evening Courier (UK)
Copyright: 2000 The Halifax Courier Ltd.
Contact:  Mailbag, PO Box 19, Halifax, West Yorkshire HX1 2SF, England
Fax: +44-(0)1422-260341
Author:  P. White


ANN Widdecombe has, quite rightly, been slated for her draconian proposals 
to crack down on drugs.  However, her proposed instant fine for first-time 
possession of even one joint of cannabis was arguably the least 
controversial of these measures.

Much more insidious is the proposed change of law that would make it a 
criminal offence to have drugs in the bloodstream.

This measure is not so much aimed at those who commit burglaries to fund 
their drug habits, ie, the heroin or crack cocaine addict, it is primarily 
aimed at the casual cannabis user.

Hard drugs such as heroin can only be traced in drug tests for a couple of 
days after use.  Cannabis, on the other hand, can be detected up to 90 days 
after use, despite the fact that the effects only last an hour or two when 
cannabis is smoked.

Police will also be empowered to arrest anyone they suspect may test 
positive.  Considering that 42% of 16-to-29-year-olds have used cannabis at 
some point, then virtually anyone could be considered as a suspect, be 
arrested and forced to urinate  in a cup or forcibly give blood for the 
purpose of a drug test.

Is it really a law-and-order priority to arrest and give criminal records 
to people for the joint they smoked a month ago?  Matthew Hopkin, the 
Witchfinder General of the dark ages, would have approved, I'm sure.

Another point to bear in mind is that the Tories will blur the distinction 
between a casual cannabis user and a drug dealer/trafficker.  There will be 
a legal assumption that if you are caught with a certain amount of cannabis 
you are a dealer and will be punished accordingly - ie, prison - whether or 
not any sales can be proved.

I believe the limit will be set as low as 2 grams for personal possession, 
enough herbal cannabis for one or maybe two joints.  I also believe that 
Labour's forthcoming Drugs Act will also contain this Orwellian provision.

A Mori poll last year showed that 48% of people in this country support the 
legalisation of cannabis.

There is certainly no public consensus that smoking cannabis should be even 
be considered a crime, yet the Tories and even Labour would inflict upon us 
laws and police tactics more akin to those found in the former Soviet Union 
than a free democracy.

P. White
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