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  Commons Committee To Put Spotlight on Cannabis
Posted by FoM on July 25, 2001 at 11:13:29 PT
By Sarah Westcott, Political Staff, PA News 
Source: Independent 

cannabis A House of Commons committee is to investigate the possible decriminalisation of cannabis and also address the Government's drug policy. The powerful Home Affairs Committee will question whether current drug rules work in its first major inquiry of the new parliament.

Witnesses include key Government figures such as the Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine of Lairg and Home Secretary David Blunkett.

The committee will look at the effect of liberalisation on the availability and demand for drugs.

It will also study the effect of relaxing restrictions on drug–related deaths and crime.

The committee, which will meet in October, will also examine whether decriminalisation is desirable and if not, discuss "practical alternatives".

The move comes amid growing backbench calls, including from former Tory Cabinet minister Peter Lilley, for the liberalisation of cannabis laws.

The new committee will look at the effectiveness of the 10 year National Strategy on drug misuse and take into account the Police Foundation's report on drugs which was chaired by Dame Ruth Runciman.

Its chairman is former junior minister Chris Mullin who left the Government of his own accord after the election because he wanted to return to chairing the committee.

The issue arose earlier this month when Tory grandee Peter Lilley rocked die–hard traditionalists in the Conservative party with his call to legalise cannabis.

The former deputy leader of the Tory party envisaged magistrates issuing licences for outlets selling cannabis to over–18s.

Downing Street has firmly resisted any liberalisation of the drugs laws, although Mr Blunkett has said there should be an "adult, intelligent" debate on the issue.

Leading charity DrugScope today welcomed the inquiry as a valuable contribution to a more open and mature debate on drugs in the UK.

DrugScope director of communications Harry Shapiro said: "Last year's Police Foundation Inquiry gave the drugs debate a much–needed impetus.

"We have seen evidence in recent weeks that more politicians are ready to take on this complex issue and explore the possibilities for change.

"It is a subject which interests a large number of ordinary people and an open and mature debate could help re–engage many, particularly the young, in the political process."

Source: Independent (UK)
Author: Sarah Westcott, Political Staff, PA News
Published: July 25, 2001
Copyright: 2001 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.

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Comment #4 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on July 25, 2001 at 13:10:08 PT:

England Swings
I was very fortunate to have been in the UK for several days last week, and saw Peter Lilley on a 30 minute talk show on the BBC called "Hard Talk," with a vicious, constantly interrupting interviewer that regurgitated all the usual reefer madness. Lilley was extremely convincing in his libertarian outlook on the subject.

Unfortunately, the people with whom I spoke uniformly expected nothing to change legislatively. The Tory and especially Labor leadership (firmly attached to the Amerikan breast) remain adamantly opposed to any change. However, the experiment in decriminalization in the Brixton ward of London will likely extend over time. The British people have already decided: this antiquated stance on cannabis is much ado about nothing worth the consternation and grief. It is a slow, but inexorable progress toward change.

The dominoes are falling: Yesterday Portugal, tomorrow, more of the world. Keep the faith, but do your best to give the process a swift kick in the rump at regular intervals.

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Comment #3 posted by billygoatfunk on July 25, 2001 at 12:16:01 PT
Sanity finally??
You know you are dealing with reasonable people when there is an honest, truthful debate and a committee with real influence can discuss just what kind of society they want to be. `Do we want to put people in prison for smoking an herb that some consider to be a sacrament?...' etc...
'Should society waste its time on a weed?...' I certainly hope not!

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by Clown on July 25, 2001 at 11:41:36 PT
Puritan Way
Looks like I am taking the next santa maria to London.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #1 posted by TroutMask on July 25, 2001 at 11:17:25 PT
Too Bad
Too bad i've had to wait 20+ years to see this happen. But good thing it is finally happening.


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