British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has gone on record saying she wants to reverse the recent classification of Cannabis to a Grade C drug, putting it back up to Grade B instead.
This means that the maximum prison sentence for possessing this naturally occuring plant rises from two years to five years and anyone caught selling it could go away for up to fourteen years or face an unlimited fine.
This is in direct contravention of the findings of a Gordon Brown commissioned Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs’ review which recommends keeping Cannabis at C and suggested only a “probable, but weak, causal link between psychotic illness, including schizophrenia, and cannabis use”.
We all agree that any drug (including strong cannabis) should be kept away from children, but by continually criminalising it we are simply ensuring that the traffic remins underground and uncontrollable.
The truly amazing thing about this is that Smith herself has admitted smoking marijuana whilst a student! So my message to her is clear – you get yourself locked up for five years in jail, then come back and we’ll see how draconian you are feeling then.
Meanwhile, I write this blog entry from South Australia. In this State the possession of cannabis is treated with nothing more than an “on the spot” style fine which does not constitute a criminal record – a humane and sensible way of gently discouraging its use without criminalising huge swathes of society in the process.
I’ll be back in the UK soon to see if Smith’s move is approved by Parliament and if it actually stops anyone from smoking the stuff – and to see if any of my friends have been locked away.