Cannabis a Political Football
Drugs policy has become a 'political football', threatening public confidence in politicians, a former government adviser on drugs warned today.
(and for New Zealand, damn important that the Law Commission revue of Drugs be unfettered, Open Strategies (tm) are required../Blair)
Roger Howard, chief executive of the independent UK Drugs Policy Commission, is calling for a major overhaul of drug classifications that could see ecstasy downgraded. He said it was time to take decisions about how illegal substances were classified out of the hands of ministers and base them on science, rather than political and public opinion.
The former Home Secretary Charles Clarke is understood to support such a shake-up, while Professor Sir Michael Rawlins - outgoing chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the Home Office's advisory body - is also said to be concerned about the way political and media pressure has clouded the debate over cannabis.
Rawlins will deliver a report to ministers tomorrow, which is expected to defy Gordon Brown by dismissing the Prime Minister's calls to reclassify cannabis as a Class B drug with tougher penalties. It is the third time in five years the advisory council has been asked to review cannabis and the third time it has concluded that the risk to mental health is unproven.
The Home Office said the cannabis review, and the government's response, would not be released until after Thursday's local elections.Also See
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) will set itself on a collision course with the Government tomorrow when it seeks to persuade the Home Secretary that cannabis should remain at its current status as a class C drug.
Pressure on the Prime Minister to take decisive action and override the wishes of the ACMD is growing. Professor Robin Murray, one of Britain's top experts on schizophrenia and cannabis, will warn MPs of what he says are the real dangers of the drug at a meeting tomorrow of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Cannabis and Children. "Education is much more important than classification," he said. "The problem is that education costs money, switching the classification doesn't."