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UK: Cannabis Arrests Down by a Third

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 5:35 am    Post subject: UK: Cannabis Arrests Down by a Third Reply with quote

Cannabis Arrests Down by a Third
Posted by CN Staff on July 28, 2004 at 20:52:42 PT
By Alan Travis, Home Affairs Editor
Source: Guardian Unlimited UK

Arrests for cannabis possession have dropped by a third in the five months since the drug law was relaxed in January, according to early estimates published by the Home Office yesterday.
Ministers say the estimates show that 180,000 hours of police officer time will be saved in a year as a result of the reclassification of cannabis from a class B to class C drug.

The change is intended to encourage police officers to confiscate the substance and issue an on-the-spot warning rather than make an arrest in cases of simple possession. The latest published figures show that as many as 97,000 people a year were being arrested for cannabis possession before the change.

The Home Office also published British Crime Survey statistics suggesting that cannabis use among teenagers had started to decline for the first time.

The figures show that just under 25% of 16- to 24-year-olds said they had tried cannabis during the 12 months to March 2004, compared with 28% in 1998.

The Home Office minister Caroline Flint said: "These are encouraging figures, but we are not complacent. The police are spending less time arresting people for possession of cannabis and filling in the paperwork that goes along with it.

"This enables them to concentrate on class A drugs which cause most harm to society."

The Home Office said it did not yet have detailed arrest figures for cannabis possession but had based the estimate on early returns from 26 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales outlining the trend in arrests between February and June this year compared with 2003.

The claimed success for the change in Britain's drug laws comes as the European Union's "horizontal working party on drugs" proposed that ministers should ban internet sites that provide information on the cultivation and promotion of cannabis.

At the initiative of the Swedish and Spanish governments the working group is pressing EU ministers to adopt a draft resolution on cannabis to tackle the use of the drug and the higher potency of some marijuana, and to introduce tougher international law enforcement against the trade.

Its proposal to urge EU governments to take action against pro-cannabis internet sites has angered campaigners.

The British Legalise Cannabis campaign said it acknowledged that the drug was not harmless, but was adamant its website provided information on cannabis rather than promoted its use.

It said the proposal amounted to censorship, and suggested it could lead to the suppression of any website featuring a cannabis leaf.

The EU group is influential because it reports directly to the council of ministers.

Its draft resolution says cannabis is the illegal substance most commonly used in all the EU states, and is growing in popularity among young people in most of them.

Special Report: Drugs in Britain:,2759,178206,00.html

Source: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)
Author: Alan Travis, Home Affairs Editor
Published: Thursday, July 29, 2004
Copyright: 2004 Guardian Newspapers Limited

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