Airline Tickets to be Tested for Drugs 

Airline Tickets to be Tested for Drugs 
Posted by FoM on March 26, 2000 at 21:56:40 PT
By Jon Hibbs, Political Correspondent
Source: Electronic Telegraph
Airline passengers arriving in Britain could soon have their boarding passes checked for traces of illegal drugs.Keith Hellawell, head of the Government's anti-drugs campaign, is organising trials of a machine which can check for heroin, cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy. 
He believes the technology would underline the Government's commitment to preventing drug smuggling, but his spokesman admitted there were no plans to introduce the device "as yet".He said drugs organisations had warned that the automatic testing would pose unacceptable levels of surveillance on the general public. Roger Howard, chief executive of the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse, said: "A lot of innocent people could be caught up in something that is nothing to do with them. Somebody may have been at a party the night before where cocaine was being used, it gets on to a piece of paper, then is transferred to a boarding card, and somebody with no involvement in drugs ends up in trouble."News of the testing machine emerged as ministers vetoed any imminent relaxation of the drug laws despite increasing pressure for a review. Charles Clarke, the Home Office minister who has admitted smoking marijuana as a student, said: "If we send any signal whatsoever which suggests that taking more drugs is an acceptable way of proceeding I think we'll see consumption go up, and that will mean more tragedy, more sadness for the individuals, and also more bad effects for society as a whole."Speaking on BBC1's On the Record, Mr Clarke sought to pre-empt an inquiry by the Police Foundation which will recommend tomorrow that ecstasy should no longer be treated as a Class A drug, like heroin, and should be reclassified as a soft drug alongside cannabis. The report is also expected to recommend the maximum penalty for possession of soft drugs be cut from a six-month jail sentence to a 200 fine and that possession of two grams or less of cannabis be made a civil offence.Mr Clarke said the Government had already indicated it would consider the case for decriminalising the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. However, he signalled that ministers would put pressure on the Association of Chief Police Officers to ensure its guidelines on the enforcement of existing drug laws were respected by all police forces in England and Wales.Mr Clarke also admitted there was a shortage of rehabilitation facilities for drug addicts, hinting that the Government's spending review may provide extra funds. Earlier demands for a review of the drug laws intensified when a Labour backbencher, Ian Gibson, joined the Liberal Democrats in calling for a Royal Commission. The MP for Norwich North predicted that "cannabis would be seen as not being the major problem we think of it now" following the independent inquiry.The Conservatives called for court appearances for those currently cautioned over drugs.Issue 1767 Monday 27 March 2000 Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2000. CannabisNews Articles On Hellawell:
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