MPs To Launch Inquiry Into Decriminalisation

MPs To Launch Inquiry Into Decriminalisation
Posted by FoM on July 26, 2001 at 10:39:08 PT
By Alan Travis, Home Affairs Editor
Source: Guardian Unlimited
An influential House of Commons committee is to launch the first official inquiry into whether the decriminalisation of drugs should be introduced and whether it can work, it was announced yesterday. The inquiry is expected to include evidence from a succession of senior police officers who believe that cannabis prosecutions should no longer be an operational priority for the police. 
The inquiry, by the Commons home affairs select committee under its new chairman, Chris Mullin, will coincide with the end of the six-month experiment in Lambeth where police have said they will not arrest people for the possession of cannabis. Witnesses will include the home secretary, David Blunkett, who has described the Lambeth operation as "an interesting experiment" and called for "an adult, intelligent debate" on the issue, as well as the lord chancellor, Lord Irvine. Mr Mullin appealed for evidence to be submitted to his inquiry by the end of September. "There is a big debate going on outside parliament among serious people in the criminal justice system, including senior police officers, probation officers and members of the judiciary. Until now, politicians have tended to shy away from it. "But we think the time has come for a serious assessment of the way we deal with drugs. We have an entirely open mind so we're not headed for any particular conclusion. But we hope to bring all the arguments into the open," said Mr Mullin, who resigned as a minister because he believed he could be more effective as a select committee chairman. The inquiry will not only ask whether existing drugs policy works but also look at the effect of decriminalisation on the availability of and demand for drugs, on drug-related deaths, and on crime. The inquiry's terms of reference also ask: "Is decriminalisation desirable and, if not, what are the practical alternatives?" The MPs say they will look into the possible decriminalisation of all types of drugs and not just cannabis. It will be the first major inquiry by the Commons into reforming the drugs law since the publication of the influential Police Foundation report last year, which called for an end to the use of criminal penalties for cannabis possession and the reclassification of ecstasy as a Class B drug. Crime figures published this month showed that despite the growth in liberal rhetoric among politicians and the police, some 92,000 people were still convicted of possession of cannabis last year and either fined or cautioned. This is double the level of arrests a decade ago. A Guardian/ICM opinion poll this month showed overwhelming public backing for the idea that enforcing the laws against cannabis possession should not be a priority for the police. Since the election Britain's hardline "drugs tsar", Keith Hellawell, has been sidelined as the Home Office was given overall control of government drugs policy. Even Mr Hellawell has recently recanted and said that he no longer believes cannabis is a "gateway" drug to harder substances. Complete Title: MPs To Launch First Official Inquiry Into Decriminalisation of Drugs Source: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)Author: Alan Travis, Home Affairs EditorPublished: Thursday, July 26, 2001Copyright: 2001 Guardian Newspapers LimitedContact: letters Articles:Major Review of Drug Policy Planned To Consider Relaxing The Law on Cannabis Use Articles - UK 
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Comment #6 posted by Ro Po on July 26, 2001 at 23:49:28 PT:
Change is coming
There does indeed seem to be a sense of inevitability in the air. We may see cannabis legalized in Britain sooner than anyone would have thought possible just a few years ago. The impetus has come from Europe, of course, where the Italians, the Portuguese, the Spanish and most importantly, the Swiss, have all made recent changes to their drugs policies. The British government, unlike the Americans, absolutely hate to be embarrassed by their European neighbors, so we can expect to see some tight-lipped remarks from number 10 in due course. 
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on July 26, 2001 at 18:02:02 PT:
Thanks, guys, but I don't deserve it.
JSM, I'm just an ol' fart who happens to believe in thisngs like self-determination...and get ticked off when government, any government, steps out of bounds.Mayan, I've long felt that the economics of the situation as you've outlined are indeed a major force which antis have yet to fully comprehend.Back in 1996, I visited the Netherlands for the first time as a tourist. I met lots of people, from different nationalities the world over, enjoying each other's company and peacefully having a good time...and spending lots of their converted currencies. And not just on some good weed, either.If Canada is wise enough to legalize, then I know where I'll be spending my vacations...and my money.
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Comment #4 posted by mayan on July 26, 2001 at 15:46:03 PT
Winds of Change
Yep Kap'n, the winds certainly have shifted. With the Netherlands, Belgium & now Portugal adopting sensible drug policies, other Western European countries won't be demonized for doing the same. The British, like everyone else, just want to smoke a little grass & be left alone. If they can't do it in Britain they will travel to a place where they can. THEY WILL SPEND THEIR MONEY ELSEWHERE!!! I'm pretty sure that the pols in England would rather keep British money in Britain. We are witnessing a snowball effect. I wouldn't be surprised if all of W. Europe went decrim or legal within the next couple of years.Over here in the Americas, Canada could stimulate their economy real quick by decriminalizing. Can you imagine all the people from the states flocking north & SPENDING THIER MONEY UP THERE? People will go where they can be free. It's just our nature. If our governments want us to stay put they had better give us our freedoms or we will simply say GOODBYE!
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Comment #3 posted by JSM on July 26, 2001 at 13:46:04 PT
Sir, your comments and insight are extraordinary. That you do not write for a major paper or publication is a loss. Keep up the good work. 
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Comment #2 posted by smileysmiles on July 26, 2001 at 11:47:08 PT
Love hugs &
P E    a  C  e
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on July 26, 2001 at 11:24:24 PT:
They're starting to turn their coats!
"Since the election Britain's hardline "drugs tsar", Keith Hellawell, has been sidelined as the Home Office was given overall control of government drugs policy. Even Mr Hellawell has recently recanted and said that he no longer believes cannabis is a "gateway" drug to harder substances.Well, here it is, and you heard it here, first.It's as predictable as an Eastern sunrise: those more politically perspicacious antis have figured that the wind is blowing the wrong way, they're on the wrong side, and it's time to try to deal for a way out of the inevitable backlash that's coming. For years, they've been feeling safe in their prohibitionist bunkers, while the force of the Winds of Change outside has been slowly rising. They believed that they would always be in control of the situation; why should they care about what's going on outside? Who cares if the public starts to have a change of heart and mind on the matter, they own the police, the judges, the prosecutors, the entire oppressive apparatus. What do they care what the public thinks?But now, some of them are sticking their fingers out in to the wind, to gauge that force...and are afraid of it. Things are advancing without their ability to stop it. Their much vaunted control is slipping away. And the smarter ones know what happens next.Retribution.As the old Chinese curse goes: May you live in interesting times.Things are going to get very 'interesting' for the UK antis very shortly.
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