Pubdate: Thu, 08 Aug 2002
Source: Evening News (UK)
Copyright: Eastern Counties Newspapers Group Ltd,2002
Author: Don Barnard


PAUL Whitcher's letter rebutting cannabis reclassification (Drugs must get 
zero tolerance, Wednesday, July 17) said: "Labour had three years to send 
out a strong defining message to children and ill informed adults, that the 
use of cannabis is harmful to health and morally wrong."

It is unclear in what sense he means cannabis use is inherently immoral. It 
is immoral to tell self-serving lies, to shout at your spouse, to belittle 
friends or betray a confidence - but none of these are the kind of thing 
that the criminal law has any business prohibiting.

Mere immorality (as apposed to imprudence) is not sufficient warrant to 
justify criminalising cannabis use. Nor, is the fact that cannabis use may 
be potentially dangerous a good enough reason to criminalise cannabis use 
or else we would have to jail all car drivers, skiers, and clumsy people.

These actions are not the kind of thing that the criminal law has any 
business prohibiting.

A law whose purpose is a deterrence must always be backed by a 
demonstration that the law is just. Therefore the basic question we must 
addressed in any attempt to evaluate our cannabis policy is whether 
cannabis use is the kind of thing for which punishment is appropriate and 
whether the punishments meted out are proportionate to the gravity of the 
crime are justice or not?

My questions to Mr Whitcher and other (ill informed) supporters of the 
Conservative party policy to criminalising cannabis use (zero tolerance) are:

- - How does criminalising cannabis make it less harmful to grow or use?

- - How does locking up adult cannabis users - deter young people using it?

- - If your son or daughter were arrested for cannabis possession, how long 
should they go to prison for?

Don Barnard

Press Officer

Legalise Cannabis Alliance PO Box 198 Norwich NR3 3WB
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