Pubdate: Sun, 12 May 2002
Source: Independent on Sunday (UK)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Sophie Goodchild, Home Affairs Correspondent


Cannabis should have the same status as Valium but possession must remain a 
criminal offence, an influential committee of MPs has said.

An enquiry into Britain's drugs laws by the Home Affairs Select Committee 
will conclude that decriminalisation of the drug would send out the wrong 
message and lead to an increase in supply.

Full legalisation of cannabis - a step further - will also be explicitly 
rejected by the committee in its report, which will recommend reclassifying 
the drug from Class B to Class C.

However, it will endorse the use of cannabis-based medicines for patients 
with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and nerve path damage.

Plans for more liberal changes to Britain's drug laws are understood to 
have been blocked by some members of the committee. "Some members did 
support legalisation of cannabis and others were completely opposed to the 
idea," said a Westminster source.

The committee's report is also understood to be opposed to any softening of 
laws on heroin and ecstasy.

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, is expected to announce to Parliament 
that he will downgrade cannabis to Class C once the committee's report is 
made public later this month. This is in response to pressure for reform of 
drug laws from drugs charities and politicians, as well as senior police 
officers who want to concentrate their resources on fighting hard drugs 
such as heroin and cocaine.
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