Pubdate: Fri, 12 Sep 2003
Source: Eastern Daily Press (UK)
Copyright: 2003, Archant Regional
Author: Andy Hayman.
Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance
Association of Chief Police Officers
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


Police will effectively turn a blind eye to people smoking cannabis at
home to let officers target dealers in heroin and crack cocaine,
Norfolk's Chief Constable will announce today.

People using the drug in public view, those in possession of it near
schools and youth clubs, repeat offenders and those committing public
disorder after taking it will still face arrest under the guidelines
to be unveiled nationally.

While it will stay an offence to have cannabis, the recommendations
will say there should be a "presumption against arrest", with warnings
and cautions issued by officers instead.

The guidelines - more than a year after the Government proposed a
reclassification of cannabis from Class B to Class C - will be
announced by Mr Hayman in his role as chairman for the Association of
Chief Police Officers' drugs sub-committee.

Mr Hayman yesterday told the EDP the Cannabis Enforcement Guidance was
a direct response to the Government's desire for a "more liberal
approach" towards cannabis possession - but not dealing - to let
forces concentrate their efforts on heroin and crack.

It would still be an offence to possess cannabis, he said, but people
would not be arrested for simple possession charges to prevent such
minor offences taking up vital police time. Officers would be expected
to use their discretion and take the circumstances into account.

"You can present all sorts of different scenarios about when people
might be arrested and we could end up with a very interesting debate
that goes nowhere," said Mr Hayman.

In 2002-03, Norfolk police seized more than 32kg of cannabis resin,
12kg of herbal cannabis and 687 plants. The amount of crack cocaine
recovered rose to 674g in 2002-03 from 21.76g the previous year.

Mr Hayman said: "Norfolk people should be reassured that we recognise
the difference between Class A drugs and those that cause less harm
and that has been demonstrated in the seizures."

Spokesman for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance Don Barnard said it was
"an illusion of change" which did not address fundamentals like
personal home use and in the treatment of illness.
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