Cannabis and The Killer Class 

Cannabis and The Killer Class 
Posted by CN Staff on July 10, 2002 at 20:40:20 PT
By Alan Travis, Home Affairs Editor
Source: Guardian Unlimited UK
Downgrading hash enables Blunkett to focus on cutting supply of lethal class A substances like heroin and crack, and on treating addicts. David Blunkett yesterday made clear that the decision to reclassify cannabis means that the focus of government drugs policy will be tackling class A drugs that kill, including heroin and crack, with a big expansion in the treatment of the 250,000 problem drug users in Britain. The policy was outlined yesterday in the home secretary's response to the Commons home affairs select committee report, The Government's Drugs Policy: Is It Working? It says: 
Cannabis Harm: It is vital that young people be told "open, honest and credible" messages on drugs. Heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy are harmful and do kill. The advisory council on misuse of drugs has ruled that cannabis is potentially harmful and should remain illegal, but is not a drug that kills. This was "scientifically justified and educationally sensible". Class C will put cannabis in same "harm group" as antidepressants and steroids. Penalties: Maximum penalty for possession will go down from five years to two years, in line with current sentencing practice. Legislation will be introduced so that, by July 2003, police will retain the power of arrest for the possession of cannabis - but it will only be used where there are aggravating factors such as protection of children, or where it is linked to public disorder or "flagrant disregard" of the law. In the majority of cases police will "seize and warn". Dealing: The maximum penalty for supplying and trafficking in class C drugs will be increased from five years to 14 years, so the courts can impose "substantial sentences for serious dealing offences involving cannabis". Ministers are to consider a specific offence of dealing to children of 16 and under, with heavier sentences. Mr Blunkett has rejected calls for a lesser offence of "social dealing" on a not for profit basis between friends. Gateway and education: According to Mr Blunkett, the concept of cannabis as a "gateway drug" is unproven. While most class A drug users used cannabis previously, most cannabis users do not go on to use other drugs regularly. A campaign is to educate young people that all drugs remain illegal and harmful. It will also stress health issues in smoking and cannabis. Mr Blunkett rejects complaints from MPs that use of "shock videos" in drugs education is counter productive. Lambeth: The Home Office says that there was a 19% increase in arrests for class A dealers in the first six months to December 2001. Polls show 83% of residents supported scheme and 1,350 hours of police time has been saved. A survey of headteachers found the experiment had not increased cannabis use or truancy. Ecstasy Harm: The call from MPs for ecstasy to be downgraded from class A is rejected. "Ecstasy can, and does, kill unpredictably. There is no such thing as 'a safe dose'." Treatment: An extra 183m is to be spent expanding treatment and harm minimisation services over the next three years. More treatment places in particular are to be created, to meet the rapid rise in cocaine use and crack cocaine use, and cut the long waiting times for treatment. Heroin Prescribing: Doctors are to be encouraged to prescribe heroin "in appropriate cases based on clinical judgment". The government says it will "ensure all those who could benefit from heroin on prescription will have access to it in the future". Shooting galleries: Addicts who receive heroin on prescription will be able to inject on the doctor's premises, by provision of "safe, medically, supervised areas with clean needles for the administration of heroin prescribed as part of a package of measures for treating heroin addicts". Mr Blunkett rejects the MPs' recommendation for safe injecting houses or "shooting galleries" to be used by any heroin addict. Only a small proportion of the 200,000 will get heroin on prescription. But the home secretary did leave the door open, saying "we are not persuaded that shooting galleries would, at this moment, be helpful". Drug drivingPolice are to be trained in testing suspect drivers for drug-related impairment. ParaphernaliaThe ban on selling drug "paraphernalia" that help to reduce harm is to be lifted. This includes citric and ascorbic acids, swabs, tourniquets, and filters that can make drug use safer. The exemption for hypodermics would continue. Special Report: Drugs in Britain:,2759,178206,00.htmlSource: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)Author: Alan Travis, Home Affairs EditorPublished: Thursday, July 11, 2002 Copyright: 2002 Guardian Newspapers LimitedContact: comment Website: Articles:Government Hits Back at Drug Adviser's Resignation Opens Up Drugs Laws The Brave in Changing Law Leaves Police with Dilemma
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