Pubdate: Thu, 14 Mar 2002
Source: BBC News (UK Web)
Copyright: 2002 BBC
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


A government-commissioned report has recommended that cannabis be 
downgraded to a Class C drug.

Such a legal move could allow users to smoke it in public without fear of 

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) said current 
classification of the drug was "disproportionate" to its harmfulness.

ACMD chairman Professor Sir Michael Rawlins said his council was not saying 
cannabis was harmless.

"Cannabis is associated with some risks of health but the council concludes 
that these are less than the risks posed by other Class B drugs such as 
amphetamine," he said.

The prime minister's official spokesman said while Home Secretary David 
Blunkett had made clear he was "minded" to re-classify cannabis, no 
decision had yet been taken.

"There are no plans for de-criminalisation or legalisation," the spokesman 

The report follows last weekend's vote by the Liberal Democrats to support 
the legalisation of cannabis.

Dramatic Vote

That vote was the first by a mainstream UK party and was accompanied by 
another vote to end imprisonment for the possession of any illegal drug - 
including heroin and cocaine.

Delegates also backed the downgrading of ecstasy from a Class A to a Class 
B drug.

Home Secretary David Blunkett commissioned the ACMD last October to carry 
out its study.

The ACMD monitors the state of drugs use and misuse in the UK and was set 
up under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.

Drugs are classified as Class A, B or C according to harm they may cause.

'Not Mugging Old Ladies'

Cannabis is a Class B drug, the same category as other substances including 
amphetamines and growth hormones.

Recent studies suggest that cannabis use has risen sharply since the early 
seventies, especially among those in the 20 to 24 age group.

Richard Brunstrom, Chief Constable of North Wales, who last year called for 
heroin to be prescribed free to Britain's 300,000 addicts, said on 
Wednesday that there should be a major rethink on drug crime.

He said he saw no problem with drugs as long as addicts were "not mugging 
old ladies."
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