Police End Cannabis Seizures 

Police End Cannabis Seizures 
Posted by FoM on July 08, 2001 at 06:31:38 PT
By David Rose, Anthony Browne & Faisal Islam
Source: The Observer 
Britain is to abandon the hunt for cannabis smugglers and dealers in the most dramatic relaxation of policy on the drug so far. Instead the Government has told law enforcement officers, including Customs officials and police, to target resources on 'hard drugs', such as heroin and cocaine. Under the new strategy - part of the most radical shift in drugs policy for a generation - large-scale cannabis seizures and prosecutions will now take place only as a by-product of investigations into Class A drugs. 
Last week with the blessing of Home Secretary David Blunkett, police in Brixton, south London, abandoned their policy of prosecuting people found with small amounts of the drug. The relaxation comes as the law on possession of cannabis faces its most serious legal challenge. The civil rights group Liberty will argue in court tomorrow that it is incompatible with the new Human Rights Act. The campaign to legalise cannabis gained further momentum yesterday as Clive Bates, director of the government-funded anti-smoking group Ash, argued for the legalisation of the drug. The decision to give up hunting cannabis traffickers was taken by the Cabinet Office Committee, Concerted Inter-Agency Drugs Action (Cida). It consists of the heads of MI6, MI5, the Customs and Excise investigation branch, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the police National Crime Squad, and the Association of Chief Police Officers, plus the permanent under-secretaries of the Home Office, Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. 'It's not that we plan to stop seizing cannabis when we come across it,' one senior Customs source said last night. 'However, the need to focus on Class A drugs means cannabis seizures will now take place as a by-product, not as an end in themselves.' Customs sources say the shift is seen as an 'inevitable consequence' of the Government's drug strategy, which sets agencies the target of reducing Class A drug consumption by half by 2008. 'Overall, the Government strategy is about reducing harm,' one chief police officer said. 'That has to mean placing a priority in reducing the supply of Class A drugs.' He said regional drug distributors often 'blurred the boundaries' betweendrugs, so that inquiries into cocaine and heroin dealers might also yield finds of cannabis. The focus on hard drugs was partly triggered by the first figures for UK consumption of cocaine and heroin, which show Britons are now consuming twice as much cocaine as the previous official estimates for the whole of Western Europe. The figures, from a Home Office research project, show that last year British hard drug users took 28,000-36,000kg of heroin and 35,000-41,000 kg of cocaine. Cannabis was in effect decriminalised in Brixton last week, when police said they would no longer prosecute people caught with the drug but give them a verbal telling-off. Last year the Government said that having a caution for possessing cannabis would no longer carry a criminal record for life. The Misuse of Drugs Act, which in 2000 led to 96,000 prosecutions against cannabis users, will be challenged in Southwark Crown Court this week when Liberty will claim it is incompatible with the Human Rights Act. Liberty will be defending Jerry Ham, former director and founder of a homelessness charity, who has been charged with possession of small amount of cannabis. If Liberty is successful, it could make the law unenforceable in courts. The relaxation of policy on cannabis follows changing public attitudes to the drug. This weekend senior Tory MP Alan Duncan supported Peter Lilley, the former deputy leader of the Conservative Party, who called for the legalisation of sale of the drug in licensed outlets. Ash director Clive Bates said: 'We would legalise cannabis in its non-smokable forms, such as in cakes, tea or droplets. There's irrationality and inconsistency in the policy on tobacco, soft and hard drugs. Even if you legalised cannabis in its smokeable forms you couldn't come close to the harm done by cigarettes, because no one smokes 20 joints a day.' Note: New effort to halt tide of hard drugs.Source: Observer, The (UK)Author: David Rose, Anthony Browne & Faisal IslamPublished: Sunday July 8, 2001Copyright: 2001 The ObserverContact: letters Articles:Peers Support the Reform of Cannabis Law Poll Reveals Demand for Legalisation a Light, Officer? Articles - UK 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on July 11, 2001 at 09:58:01 PT:
"Oh, to be in England, 
now that, uh, er, here."It's been a long time for me since I was there; now I have even more of a reason to go see old friends.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by Patrick on July 08, 2001 at 10:02:19 PT
It ain't over till the fat lady sings!
I hope England changes their law soon. Then perhaps, the domino theory can begin on this side of the Atlantic!!!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by MikeEEEEE on July 08, 2001 at 08:51:51 PT
The war on cannabis
I think it's over for our British friends.The waiting is the hardest part -- from a song.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment