Pubdate: Mon, 25 Jun 2001
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Police plans for a "softly, softly" approach to cannabis were endorsed 
yesterday by David Blunkett, the new Home Secretary.

He praised a London scheme that will see people caught with small amounts 
of the drug given a caution rather than prosecuted.

Mr Blunkett said on BBC1's Breakfast with Frost that he had told officers 
at the police unit in Brixton where the plan is being masterminded that it 
fitted in with his intention to target Class A drugs. His comments 
represent a significant shift in government policy on cannabis, which has 
always emphasised the need for a strict ban on drug use.

Mr Blunkett said it made sense to concentrate police resources where they 
were needed most on fighting the spread of more powerful drugs such as 
heroin and cocaine.

Earlier, Michael Portillo, the front-runner to be the next Tory leader, had 
told Breakfast with Frost that the party should be brave enough to think 
about the issue of legalising cannabis. Although he stopped short of 
backing the proposal, he said: "Here is an issue which is extremely 
complicated. It is an issue where there are very strong arguments on both 

"Many people in this country now have a view on this. They either have 
personal experience or they have experience in their family, and I think 
it's extraordinary that the political class is not prepared to debate this 

His remarks came after a report suggesting that other candidates for the 
Tory leadership, including David Davis, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael 
Ancram, also accepted the need for a debate on legalising the drug.
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