Pubdate: Sat, 16 Mar 2002
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2002 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Stewart Tendler


HALF of police officers questioned about enforcing the law on using 
cannabis admitted that they had taken the drug at some time in their lives. 
The research now being studied by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, was 
carried out among Metropolitan and South Yorkshire police and shows that 
many support a more liberal approach.

Many clearly would support the Lambeth experiment in South London where 
users are given a warning and lose their drugs. Some have already been 
informally using a similar approach.

The research will bolster Mr Blunkett's plans to make cannabis use a less 
serious offence by making it a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 
1971 rather than a Class B one.

In the research 150 frontline patrol officers who would carry out stop and 
search operations for drugs were questioned anoymously for the Joseph 
Rowntree Trust. Half admitted using the drug.

The researchers also found that 85 per cent of those who had used the drug 
were prepared to be more tolerant in their treatment of users.

When the researchers asked the officers about the current legislation three 
quarters complained that drug laws criminalise people who would not 
otherwise have records.

Over half also believed that cannabis legislation harmed relations between 
police and young people, especially black and Asian communities. Another 
said that those arrested for possession were less likely to help the police 
to solve more serious crimes.
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