Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jun 2007
Source: Manchester Evening News (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Manchester Evening News
Author: Yakub Qureshi
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


A THIRD of Britain's Euro MPs support the decriminalisation of
cannabis, according to a study.

They were second only to the Dutch in their support for a change in
the law.

Research by Manchester University shows a significant proportion of
British MEPs who answered a survey believe the drug should be made
legal despite growing health fears over its use.

There are thought to be two million regular users of the drug in
Britain. Studies suggest it is linked to severe mental illness such as
schizophrenia. Thirty-seven of Britain's 78 MEPs took part in the study.

The findings were made as part of a survey of all Members of the
European Parliament, which showed that around a fifth supported a
change in the law.

Only MEPs in Holland showed stronger support than Britain, with 83 per
cent backing wider decriminalisation.

The study comes days after NHS figures showed an 85 per cent rise in
the number of cannabis-related hospital admissions in England.

New figures showed the number of people needing hospital treatment
over the past 10 years rose from 520 in 1996 to 946 last year.
Government ministers downgraded cannabis from a class B to class C
drug three years ago.

An investigation by the M.E.N. shortly after reclassification revealed
that the drug was more widely used than ever and was being openly
smoked by school pupils and even bought at the school gates.

All 732 members of the Strasbourg parliament were contacted last year,
of which 272 responded to the anonymous survey. The European
Parliament has power to decide Europe-wide legislation.

Professor David Farrell, of the university's school of social sciences
who conducted the study, said the growing influence of European MEPs
meant their views should be taken seriously.

He said: "The views of MEPs as shown in this survey may very well have
a direct impact on policy."
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