Ministers Reject Drugs Law Overhaul

  Ministers Reject Drugs Law Overhaul

Posted by FoM on February 07, 2001 at 07:46:37 PT
The government remains tough on cannabis 
Source: BBCNews 

The government has rejected the key findings of a landmark report into drugs policy which recommended the easing of penalties for possession of soft drugs and a reclassification of ecstasy and LSD. The Police Foundation report, which followed two years of research into drugs policy, was published last year to acclaim from academics and drugs counsellors. 
The report argued that penalties for the possession of cannabis did more harm than the drug itself and called for a wide reclassification of drugs and drug offences. But in a move that will dismay groups campaigning for a distinction between penalties for hard and soft drugs, the Home Office has rejected 24 of the committees main proposals. 'Mistaken and Complacent' The chairwoman of the independent inquiry, Viscountess Runciman, said the government's attitude was "mistaken and complacent". The effect of that attitude would burden the UK with laws that did not match public opinion, she said. But ministers have consistently signalled that no change in drugs law was likely. Speaking for the Home Office, minister Charles Clarke said that a change in the law on cannabis was not desirable as it "would increase consumption" and as the use of the drug carries the risk of cancer and can affect mental health. And in the run-up to the election expected in May, the Conservatives are also maintaining their own hardline stance on drugs, despite last year's admission from eight members of the shadow cabinet that they had used cannabis in the past. Drugs Poll: The government's rejection comes just days after a poll for BBC News Online suggested that 49% of adults believed cannabis use should be decriminalised. Labour backbencher David Winnick, a member of the home affairs select committee told the BBC he hoped that a more sensible debate on drugs would emerge after the pressures of an upcoming election campaign had passed. In calling for a serious look at reform he added: "Many law-abiding people who wouldn't dream of flouting the law nevertheless do take cannabis, [they] don't believe they are criminals and I believe we simply have to recognise a fact of life." Disappointment: Lady Runciman added: "It is disappointing that a real opportunity for constructive dialogue and incremental change" has been missed. "Our recommendations would create a more effective law which enabled resources and enforcement efforts to be targeted on the most dangerous drugs such as heroin and cocaine, and the most dangerous activities involving them." The inquiry team, which included two serving chief constables, called for possession of cannabis to be made a non-imprisonable offence. No Cannabis Downgrade:The drug would also have been reclassified from class B to class C - the same as anabolic steroids - and people found cultivating a small number of cannabis plants would also not face prison, under the recommendations. Other suggestions such as a reduction in jail sentences for possession of heroin and cocaine from a maximum of seven years down to 12 months were also rejected. And calls to reclassify ecstasy and LSD as class B drugs, were dismissed. Lady Runciman said: "All our most far-reaching recommendations have been rejected. "At no point has the rationale underlying the proposals been addressed." 'Disappointing' "It leaves us with a law that is out of touch with reality, misleading in its rank of relative harm, disproportionate in its sanctions, dependent on police discretion to be workable and out of step with the public attitudes. "It also leaves us with a law that in relation to cannabis produces more harm than it prevents." The government's response had been "extremely poorly argued", she added. Although she did venture the idea that her report would stand the test of time: "I believe this is a good report ... it has staying power and its time will come." Speaking for the Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes also said the government's response was "disappointing". He said his own party was not "ruling anything out" and added: "It may be that they [Labour] are brave, but are not willing to be seen as such before a general election." Note: It leaves us with a law that is out of touch with reality. Lady Runciman Source: BBC News (UK Web) Published: February 7, 2001Copyright: 2001 BBC Website: Feedback: Forum: Related Articles:Cannabis: Time to Change The Law? Laws Too Strict Say Doctors 

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Comment #3 posted by mungojelly on February 07, 2001 at 13:28:17 PT:
three words
american ... puppet ... government 
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Comment #2 posted by observer on February 07, 2001 at 09:20:09 PT
The government's rejection comes just days after a poll for BBC News Online suggested that 49% of adults believed cannabis use should be decriminalised.Wow! Phrased that way, that's a very large percentage. (I bet that has been growing over the past few years, too.) When the same question is put explicitly in terms of "jail" for adults who responsibly use cannabis in the privacy of their own homes, the percentage of people that reject jail for such adults is even greater. That's why the ONDCP and other prohibitionists keep punching forms of the word, "legalize": this is a calculated gloss over the little detail of "jail". It is a trick to get people who support "law and order" to accept the imprisonment of other peaceful people, without mentioning the prison part. One rule of poilitical rhetoric is that it is easier to get people to reject an idea, than it is to get people to support an idea. That's why prohibitionists propagandists mask their jailing intentions in terms of rejecting "legalization". These government (and government Partnership) Goebbels-wannabes know full well that if they mention imprisoning peaceful adults who responsibly use cannabis, people will reject that. They therefore are careful to only scream, "LEGALIZERS! LEGALIZERS!", instead.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on February 07, 2001 at 09:03:16 PT:
It's the Shafer report, all over again.
In 1972, The Shafer Commission Report recommending reducing penalties for cannabis was made to that paragon of law and order, Chief Honcho of the Watergate Plumbers, Tricky Dick Nixon. It was an exhaustively researched report led by no less than a well-known Conservative (hardly a flaming Liberal) Ray Shafer, former Governor of Pennsylvania: the more contemporary IoM report, it was ignored by the very people who had commissioned it, because it's recommendations didn't match the political expectations of the Powers-That-Be. Evidently, the reality of the situation couldn't fit into the cloud-cuckooland of Tricky Dick, who could have saved this country 27 years of grief if he had followed their recommendations. Instead, we have the mess we're in. But you'd think that the Brits might be more enlightened; they had the addictive drug prescription maintenance program which cut the crimes figures down to nothing...that is, before pressure brought from the US caused their government at the time to drop the program, ensuring a resurgence of crime. Mr. Blair should put that Oxford education of his to use, and consider Santayana's warning about what happens to people who fail to learn from history...anybody's history. Recent history has provided plenty of examples: when the son of the Brit version of the Attorney General gets caught with selling cannabis to a reporter, that should have been enough of a wake-up call as to how *wide-spread* cannabis use is...and how impossible it has been to stop it. But the pols - no matter where they are - never seem to get it. Mr. Blair's own citizens favor a change; it's quite clear that they do, especially amongst the young - who comprise quite a voting bloc. Should their expectations for change be thwarted, the Labour government had best prepare for shadow cabinet status. And even then, they never learn.The dinosaurs are not dead; some have managed to camouflage themselves as bipedal mammals, wear suits and ties, swill all manner of alcoholic beverages, and generally appear normal. It's only when they open their mouths and speak that mindless, brick-headed nonsense that antis are wont to do that you can recognize them for what they are.
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