01/05/2008

Brown To Decide On Cannabis Reclassification

The Prime Minister has said that the Government needs to issue a warning to young people of the dangers of using cannabis.

Gordon Brown was speaking after he received a report from the the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) on cannabis and will now have to decide whether to upgrade the 'weed' from the 'soft' Class C drug to Class B.

It is reported that the Government has been advised to keep cannabis as Class C although newspapers have speculated that the Prime Minister will reclassify the drug anyway.

In February, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) recommended cannabis reclassification to the ACMD.

According to the ACPO "a growing shift in criminal behaviour involving the cultivation, distribution and use of cannabis is contributing to an increase in the harm to community safety caused by cannabis misuse".

Simon Byrne, Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and ACPO lead on policing cannabis said: "The world has changed markedly since cannabis was classified as a Class C drug four years ago.

"The two main changes we see are a rise in cannabis farms and an undercurrent in the market which suggest more harmful health effects.

"Restoring cannabis to a Class B would reinforce the message to the public and to criminals that tough action will be taken to deal with criminality."

A statement released by the ACPO in April said: "The position on cannabis has been well articulated. We stand by the recommendation made to the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs that cannabis should be restored to the category of Class B drug."

However, a ACPO spokesman told the Guardian Newspaper that chief constables do not want to "criminalise young people who are experimenting".

Instead, police officers want to confiscate the drug and issue a warning for possession.

Mr Brown said that a message needed to be sent out to young people that cannabis is "unacceptable" and said he was particularly concerned about the growing use of of 'skunk cannabis' that is more dangerous.

If Mr Brown goes against the ACMD it would be controversial. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that Mr Brown had a requirement to take into account the council's views and the views of others.

A decision is not expected this week.

(DS)


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