Pubdate: Wed, 26 Nov 2008
Source: Lancashire Evening Post (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Lancashire Evening Post
Author: Chris Visser
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


The number of cautions issued for cannabis use in Lancashire has
rocketed by 151% in 12 months.

Figures released in Westminster show that there were 528 cannabis
warnings issued by Lancashire Police in 2007/08 compared to just 210
the previous year.

The revelation comes after peers spoke out in the House of Lords to
support delaying government plans to upgrade cannabis from Class C to
Class B after it was opposed by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of

Debra Bell, of the Talking About Cannabis group, said she welcomed
the rise in police action for cannabis crimes.

Mrs Bell, who is originally from Lancaster, said of the  figures:"I'm
not surprised. I think the cannabis message has got to go out
strongly and having a criminal record is something that can have a
serious impact on your life.

"Cannabis is the drug of choice for young teenagers and we have a
huge problem across the UK.

"It's reaching epidemic proportions. If government reclassifies the
drug, we are hoping more resources are given to police and they will
have more confidence.

"Cannabis can have a long-term mental health impact and this is
something we need to get across to the public."

Lancashire police say neighbouring forces are issuing more cautions
for cannabis offences.

Insp John Clucas, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: "The number of
formal warnings issued has increased as we have tightened up our

Talking of the Lancashire figures, Don Barnard of the  Legalise
Cannabis Alliance, said: "The police should be spending more time
looking for real crime as opposed to busting people for a little bit
of dope when they are not doing real harm.

"I find it absolutely horrendous that people are being cautioned like
this. I'm quite surprised at the figures when you are hearing from
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that there is no progress.

"I think there are a substantial number of people growing cannabis
for medical reasons and they are getting cautions."
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