Clarke may rule out cannabis reclassification
The Home Secretary is expected to rule out upgrading classification of cannabis, despite concerns about the drug's possible side-effects.Updated: Jan 19, 2006 12:21 IST
British Home Secretary Charles Clarke is expected to rule out upgrading the classification of cannabis later Thursday, despite new concerns about the drug's possible side-effects.
Clarke's predecessor David Blunkett downgraded cannabis from a Class B drug to Class C in January 2004 but fresh fears have emerged about the links between super-strength varieties and mental illness like schizophrenia and psychosis.
Instead of reclassifying the drug back to Class B, Clarke was expected to launch a major public information campaign and a new police crackdown on suppliers and those who cultivate the drug, according to newspaper reports.
The announcement follows an unpublished review of the downgrading decision by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
It is reported to have stopped short of recommending reclassification and many drugs specialists believe such a move would be counter-productive.
The ACMD report is said to have stated: "The risk to an individual of developing a schizophrenic form of illness as a result of using cannabis is very small.
"The harmfulness of cannabis to the individual remains substantially less than the harmfulness caused by substances currently controlled under the act as Class B."
Council members apparently warned Clarke that some would resign if cannabis was reclassified.
Clarke has been criticised for spreading confusion after voicing concerns about the harmful health effects of the drug.
The hard-hitting campaign is said to centre on warning of the health dangers of cannabis and stressing to young people that it has not been decriminalised.
The reclassification of cannabis was designed to allow police to concentrate their efforts on targeting the use and supply of Class A drugs like heroin and cocaine.
Following a controversial pilot project in the south London borough of Lambeth between 2001 and 2002, it made possession of small quantities of cannabis a non-arrestable offence.
First Published: Jan 19, 2006 12:21 IST