regards cannabis the Home Affairs Committee report says the following:
support the Home Secretary's proposal to reclassify cannabis from Class B to Class
accept that drugs policy should primarily be addressed to dealing with the problematic
drug users, however whilst acknowledging that there may come a day when the balance
may tip in favour of legalising and regulating some types of presently illegal
drugs, they decline to recommend it, so our campaign goes on.
also say that to decriminalise possession of drugs for personal use would send
"the wrong message" to the majority of young people and that it would
inevitably lead to an increase in drug abuse, even though there's such strong
evidence to suggest otherwise, not least of all from Holland.
don't think that intent to supply should be presumed on the basis of amounts of
drugs found, but they say that "simple possession" and "possession
with intent to supply" should be retained without alteration. However they
recommend that a new offence is created of "supply for gain", which
would be used to prosecute large scale commercial suppliers. They had been expected
to propose a new offence of "social supply", is this political double
speak for the same thing?
more general issues they recommend that a target is added to the National Strategy
explicitly aimed at harm reduction and public health, although they rule out any
form of control or regulation of the supply side, so "controlled" drugs
will remain uncontrolled.
recommend that the Government reviews Section 9A of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971,
with a view to repealing it, to allow for the provision of drugs paraphernalia
which reduces the harm caused by drugs. This should make it easier to sell bongs,
pipes and other non tobacco ways of smoking cannabis.
recommend that Section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 - the section which makes
it illegal to allow your premises to be used for the consumption of drugs - is
amended to ensure that drugs agencies can conduct harm reduction work and
provide safe injecting areas for users without fear of being prosecuted. However,
they don't seem to be suggesting it will be OK to allow your teenage kids to smoke
weed at home, so they'll still be expected to do that on the street.
the most interesting and promising recommendation comes near the end of the report,
when they recommend that the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission
on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways - including the possibility of
and regulation - to tackle the global drugs dilemma. In other words, leaving the
had hoped for more, there is much to be welcomed in the report, but not enough
by a long way. UKCIA will update when we have more.
Derek Williams, UKCIA
full report published
on 22nd May 2002. available
on line from http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmhaff.htm
policy, is it working?" was the question the long awaited Select committee
into the future of drugs policy report addressed.
short answer it gave was "no", it then went on to recommend a welcome
move towards harm reduction but ruled out any move away from the cause of the
committee did acknowledge that the calls for legalisation are coming from sensible
people and that the arguments were compelling, but they nonetheless decided to
keep with the proven failure of the drug war's criminalisation of users.
the report is a little confused in this conclusion. Whilst it ruled out legalisation
of cannabis "because it would send the wrong message to young people",
it did recommend providing heroin to users and providing them with somewhere to
use that heroin, based on the successful schemes underway in Holland and elsewhere.
Giving users their drug and allowing them somewhere to use it is actually legalisation
in my book - highly controlled and regulated, but it's legalisation non the less.
this is the rub, legalisation doesn't just mean a free for all unregulated market
place, it actually means anything that's not prohibition. Legalisation means the
opportunity to control and regulate a market which is totally unregulated at the
moment. Supporters of prohibition claim there's a deterrent effect provided by
the law and point to the huge number of users of legal alcohol and tobacco, but
they conveniently forget that these products are advertised and often marketed
directly at young people.
move towards harm reduction is long overdue, yet no true harm reduction is possible
when drugs are supplied by the present illegal market, with no checks on strength,
purity, quantity or who buys. They claim that children will still find ways around
age limits and so they might, to an extent, but there's no age limits or any other
controls over the sale of illegal drugs.
is to become "less illegal", which will probably mean the police turning
a blind eye to small scale use or possession, but where will this small scale
possession come from? Every small bit of cannabis was once a big bit after all
and this big bit was supplied by a dealer, some of whom also supply other substances.
Indeed, even the government accepts that the biggest (if not the only) "gateway"
cannabis provides to harder drugs is through the supply side, yet they've decided
to keep it wide open.
in all, the Select committee report into the future of UK drugs policy was a rather
limp affair and will do nothing to solve the cause of the problem, it was a waste
UK Cannabis Internet Activists