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UK : MPS VOTE TO DOWNGRADE CANNABIS

 
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Ferre
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 9:43 pm    Post subject: UK : MPS VOTE TO DOWNGRADE CANNABIS Reply with quote

Quote:

Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2003 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Contact: letters@guardian.co.uk
Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardian/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/175
Author: Matthew Tempest, and agencies
Listen: to the debate (except for a little of the introduction we missed)
in low bandwidth RealAudio at this link
http://drugpolicycentral.com/real/audio/ukdebate.rm
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/area/United+Kingdom

MPs today backed the downgrading of cannabis as ministers denied the
move amounted to legalisation of the drug.

The reclassification of cannabis from class B to class C was backed by
316 votes to 160, a majority of 156, despite Conservative warnings
that it would lead more young people into hard drugs. The downgrading
of cannabis is now scheduled to go ahead on January 29.

Junior home office minister Caroline Flint said the change was part of
an "honest and credible" strategy to tackle the scourge of drugs,
denying it was tantamount to legalising the drug or would increase
cannabis use.

Under the switch, cannabis will be ranked alongside bodybuilding
steroids and some anti-depressants.

Possession of cannabis will no longer be an arrestable offence in most
cases, although police will retain the power to arrest users in
certain aggravated situations - such as when the drug is smoked
outside schools. The home secretary, David Blunkett, has said the
change in the law is necessary to enable police to spend more time
tackling class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine which cause
the most harm and trigger far more crime.

Ms Flint told MPs: "This Labour government is absolutely right to focus on
the most dangerous drugs, to intervene most vigorously in the most damaged
communities and to seek to break the link between addiction and the crime
that feeds it.

"And to reduce harm that drugs cause by addressing the chaotic
lifestyles of those users who are harming themselves and harming others."

Educating young people about the dangers of drugs, preventing drug
misuse, combating the dealers and treating addicts were key elements
of the strategy, she said.

Criticising the change, the shadow home secretary, Oliver Letwin, said
the government's drugs policy was now in a "dreadful muddle". He
called it a half-way measure aimed at short-term popularity rather
than a coherent adoption of either the decriminalisation philosophy of
the Netherlands or the more prohibitive stance of Sweden. With most
Tories absent from the Commons in order to attend the vote on Iain
Duncan Smith's leadership, there were barely any MPs in the chamber,
with those present complaining that only one and a half hours were
allowed for debate.

Ms Flint told MPs it was important to have an "honest discussion" with
children about drugs.

"They can see for themselves the different effects of drugs, and
therefore if we are not having honest discussion they will not
listen," she said.

"This is not about legalisation, it's about having to have a mature
discussion about drugs, about the relative harms." She went on: "The
right strategy we must use is what works. We must be honest and
credible and rely on science, not prejudice." The treatment of all
drugs as equally harmful and dangerous "lacked credibility" with young
people.

"Individual police forces have developed disparate policies on the
policing of cannabis possession based on their own view of the
relative seriousness of the offence, leading to inconsistency and a
lack of proper political accountability."

Ms Flint said that by upping penalties for dealing hard drugs to 14
years while at the same time reclassifying cannabis the government
would be sending a "very strong message" to dealers.

Reclassification would provide police with an opportunity to put in
place a "consistently and properly thought-out" approach to drugs and
allow them to redeploy officers to tackle hard drugs.

But the powers of arrest in place for cannabis would not apply to
other class Cs such as tranquillisers or anabolic steroids. "The
policing regime will ensure that action is properly taken by police
against someone who is causing a problem or needs help whilst avoiding
needlessly charging large numbers of young people," she said. In a
series of interventions from the back benches, MPs set out both sides
of the argument for downgrading cannabis.

Labour's Martin Salter said the government would be doing young people
a "grave disservice" by allowing them to think that all drugs were the
same.

Fellow Labour MP David Cairns said heroin was "far more damaging, far
more pernicious and far more destructive of communities" than cannabis.

And Tory John Bercow asked the minister to consider legalising
cannabis as "it must be desirable to break the link between the soft
drug user and the hard drug pusher".

But Tory Graham Brady claimed that cannabis was 10 or 15 times
stronger than 20 years ago and that it was "perverse" to propose
downgrading the drug.

Labour's John Robertson warned that the message going out to young
people was that cannabis was no longer as dangerous as it was before.
Tory Ann Winterton insisted that "sophisticated measures do not wash"
when trying to get the drug prevention message across. And fellow Tory
Angela Watkinson warned that downgrading cannabis would lead to an
increase in use of the drug and act as a "gateway" to harder drug use.

That's some good news. banana stinky
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Echo
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At last it seems we are going to get the new law. We were expecting it for last June, but it failed to arrive.
Good news is that you tokers living in the UK won't probably be harassed for smoking in the secrecy of your own home. Bad news is that it's very unclear about other issues, like growing for personal use for instance. It seems that even small scale growers will be treated like dealers which is not fair, is it? Up to 14 years in jail Confused
But it's a first step in the right direction and I join Ferre in his jubilation banana

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Ferre
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Posts: 1652
Location: Amsterdam

PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2003 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard Lake wrote:
Thanks to the UK Cannabis Internet Activists http://www.ukcia.org the
cannabis debate is on line at:

http://www.ukcia.org/library/hoc291003/debate.html

and how the MPs voted at:

http://www.ukcia.org/library/hoc291003/mpsvote.html

From which we MAP posted the debate starting at:

http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v03.n1691.a04.html

and the vote at:

http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v03.n1692.a02.html

Listen to the debate (except for a little of the introduction we missed) in
low bandwidth RealAudio at this link

http://drugpolicycentral.com/real/audio/ukdebate.rm

Richard Lake
Sr. Editor
DrugNews
www.mapinc.org
www.drugnews.org


Well, it's a step forwards, let's hope more steps will come. dance banana jumpie
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