Beware Dealer's Charter, Says Tory MP 

Beware Dealer's Charter, Says Tory MP 
Posted by FoM on October 23, 2001 at 18:48:45 PT
By Tom Baldwin, Deputy Political Editor 
Source: Times U.K.
Ann Widdecombe said yesterday that plans to stop police arresting people for possession of cannabis threaten to become a “dealer’s charter”. The former Shadow Home Secretary, whose own “zero tolerance” proposal on drugs was spectacularly ambushed by senior Tory colleagues last year, said: “I think the danger is that this will end up as the thin end of the wedge.” Although she welcomed measures which will result in less bureaucracy and waste of police time, Miss Widdecombe said: 
“If David Blunkett is going to reclassify this drug it sends out a signal that it will be taken less seriously in the future. He must address the dealer side of the question . . there needs to be a new criminal offence of substantial possession.” Her policy to give spot fines and a police record to anyone caught with cannabis was abandoned after eight members of the Shadow Cabinet admitted they had smoked the drug. The rebels included Oliver Letwin, who inherited Miss Widdecombe’s Home Affairs brief after the last election. Last year he confessed that as a “pretentious” student he had smoked cannabis in his pipe. Yesterday, he would say only: “As has already been stated, the Conservative Party is undergoing a detailed policy review and, no doubt, this will be one of the matters that is discussed. “David Blunkett claims that these measures will result in fewer young people having a drugs problem. We shall see.” Tim Yeo, the only member of the Shadow Cabinet brave enough to admit he had enjoyed smoking cannabis, was uncharacteristically shy of commenting on yesterday’s announcement. However, Peter Lilley, the former Tory deputy leader who has advocated decriminalisation of cannabis, said the proposals did not go far enough. “They had missed the main point. People will still have to get their softer drugs from people who deal hard drugs. If there was a limited number of outlets that can supply it legally it would break that link.” Jon Owen Jones, the backbench Labour MP whose Bill to legalise cannabis comes before the House of Commons on Friday, welcomed the Home Secretary’s announcement but said it was only a step in the right direction. The former Welsh Office Minister said: “This is an acknowledgement that the present policies are not working. Harsh criminal penalties are not the way to deal with cannabis use. However, this move alone does not go far enough. Cannabis use is clearly very prevalent in this country and does no noticeable harm. “Although this essentially decriminalises cannabis use and possession, it leaves cannabis supply in the hands of criminal gangs.” Paul Flynn, another Labour backbencher who has campaigned for drugs reform, said: “This is a wonderful, sensible first step.” Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman, said: “The announcement on cannabis is welcome but it is extraordinary that it has taken so long.” Source: Times, The (UK)Author: Tom Baldwin, Deputy Political Editor Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2001Copyright: 2001 Times Newspapers LtdContact: letters Articles:Softening of Attitude Prompted Law U-Turn Smokers Will Not Be Arrested
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on October 24, 2001 at 04:29:54 PT:
"Down, girl! Sit! Sit!" 
Some folks just never learn, do they?It was Ms. Widdecombe's "law & order" diatribe against cannabis users, which led to the firestorm of controversy when those Shadow Cabinet members admitted to cannabis use to begin with. Talk about being blindsided! No matter how hard they tried to spin this huge gaffe positively, the Tories each wound up with five pounds of runny, smelly egg on their faces.This latest outburst of hers is sure to doom any further hopes of garnering the votes needed to return to power. Because with the natural attrition caused by aging, the voting old-f**ts who went along with these stupid laws are dying off. And what's going to replace them in the electorate? The kind of people Ms. Widdecombe's Tories have disparaged and marginalized. People who, because of benighted social policies, have sour memories of what was done to them. The political party that addresses those grievances first will win a substantial amount of support.Which needless to say, won't be the Tories. If I were a Tory, I think I'd invest in some duct tape to place across Ms. Widdecombe's mouth, before she causes any further damage. And keep her hands from any pistols; she has a sad predilection for shooting herself in the feet.
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