Police Chill on Cannabis
news of the stupid
LONDON (Reuters) - Police chiefs urged their officers Friday to take a more relaxed approach to cannabis in line with a new policy that will effectively leave Britons free to enjoy the drug in private.
The guidance came as Home Secretary David Blunkett handed Parliament a draft order to downgrade the drug from Class B to the low-risk Class C to allow police to focus resources on hard drugs like heroin.
The shift in policy is likely to take effect in January.
"There will be a presumption against arrest, except where public order is at risk, or where children are vulnerable," said Blunkett.
"After reclassification, most offences of cannabis possession by adults will result in a police warning and confiscation of the drug," he added.
Officers on the street would be left to decide the maximum weight at which cannabis smokers could claim their supplies were for personal use and not dealing, said Andy Hayman, drugs spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers.
"If we start making statements about weights... those who deal in drugs will just make sure they've got possession of a drug just below the weight," he told BBC radio.
Seizures of hard drugs have reached a record high, government figures show, with heroin up 16 percent year-on-year in 2001. But cannabis still accounted for more than seven out of 10 drug seizures.
Hayman said the rationale for existing drug laws -- that people who tried cannabis were often led on to harder drugs -- had been disproved.
"The theory of 'gateway' drugs doesn't stand up," he said. "The evidence does not support that."