Cannabis Should Not Be Upgraded Sir Ian Blair Says

Cannabis Should Not Be Upgraded Sir Ian Blair Says
Posted by CN Staff on May 19, 2005 at 12:09:21 PT
News Story
Source: Daily Telegraph
United Kingdom -- Britain's top policeman, Sir Ian Blair, has suggested that the reclassification of cannabis should not be reversed. If it is, fixed penalty notices should be issued rather than arrest and prosecution - for possession of small amounts of the drug.Earlier this year, Charles Clarke, Home Secretary, commissioned the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs to investigate whether new medical evidence linking cannabis to long-term mental problems had implications for the Government's previous decision to downgrade the drug from Class B to the less serious Class C.
And just before the General Election Tony Blair said the decision to downgrade it to Class C - the same as steroids and some prescription anti-depressants - was being looked at again amid emerging evidence that cannabis "isn't quite as harmless as people make out".But Sir Ian today said: "In London, in my view, we should stay where we are."If there was a change the Metropolitan Police would push "very hard" for fixed penalty notices, he said.Sir Ian stressed that the Met was continuing major operations against cannabis importers.But he said: "It's a waste of time, in terms of policing, to deal with small amounts (of cannabis) because the courts and the CPS have consistently failed to do anything about it."There is no point a police officer spending hours dealing with something the courts and the CPS don't do anything about."He did not say what level of fixed penalty he would envisage.Offences currently attracting an £80 fixed penalty notice include being drunk and disorderly, shoplifting and selling alcohol to under-18s.There are £50 notices for offences including being drunk in a public place, trespassing on railways, consuming alcohol under the age of 18, and dropping litter.Sir Ian also countered suggestions that there should be a double classification of cannabis based on different strengths of the drug.Mr Clarke has asked the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs for its advice on varieties of cannabis containing high levels of THC, the active ingredient.The downgrading of cannabis to Class C, introduced by Mr Clarke's predecessor David Blunkett, came into effect at the start of last year and means possession of small amounts of the drug is no longer normally an arrestable offence.Police are instructed to deal with cannabis users with a formal warning and confiscation of the drug, except in certain aggravated circumstances such as smoking it outside a school.Newshawk: HopeSource: Daily Telegraph (UK)Published: May 19, 2005Copyright: 2005 Telegraph Group LimitedContact: dtletters Articles & Web Site:Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Cannabis May Be Reclassified Advisers Donít Want Rethink Shake-Up of Britains Laws in 30 Years 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 19, 2005 at 19:39:27 PT
Related Article from The Guardian Unlimited UK
 Law Change Impractical - Met Chief By Rosie Cowan Friday May 20, 2005United Kingsom -- Cannabis should not be upgraded again, and if it is, fixed penalty fines should be issued for the possession of small amounts, Britain's top policeman said yesterday.Sir Ian Blair, the Scotland Yard commissioner, said it was a waste of his officers' time spending hours dealing with possession offences when prosecutors and courts did not act on them.If the government reverses the downgrading of the drug, as it is currently considering, then he would push hard for fixed penalty notices, although he refused to be drawn on what he considered an appropriate fine.David Blunkett reclassified cannabis from Class B to Class C in January last year. While possession is still illegal, those caught with small amounts are not normally arrested, but have the drug confiscated and receive a formal warning.But his successor, Charles Clarke, has asked the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs to investigate whether cannabis use contributes to long-term mental health problems.Mr Clarke is also considering whether stronger "skunk" varieties of the drug should carry more severe penalties. However, Sir Ian argued that such a move would be "impractical".Copyright: 2005 Guardian Newspapers Limited,2763,1488169,00.html
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