Back in 2004, when I was living in Clapham Common, I found myself part of an experiment in the decriminalisation of drugs. Well, one drug: cannabis. And it wasn’t just me, it was all my neighbours in the London borough of Lambeth. David Blunkett, the then home secretary, had decided to downgrade cannabis from a class B to a class C drug, the category which includes tranquillisers. This effectively meant you wouldn’t be arrested for possession of the drug in our borough. But the experiment, intended to free-up police resources to fight hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine, came up against an unforeseen problem. The cannabis or marijuana of 2008 was not the same as the fairly mild marijuana the hippies smoked back in 1968. The street names were the same – weed, ganja, dope, hash, grass – but it was far more potent, especially the variety known as skunk, and evidence was mounting that it was causing psychosis in certain people. Four years after the experiment began then, another Labour home secretary, Jacqui Smith, bumped cannabis back up to a class B. Now possession would get you five years in prison. The Lambeth experiment was deemed a resounding failure. So it’s hardly surprising that, as recently as 2010, it was pretty much a sackable offence for a politician to advocate decriminalisation. That was the year David Nutt, Labour’s chief adviser on drugs, found himself out of a job when he suggested that drugs should be categorised according to their harms and legislated for accordingly – and that alcohol was far more pernicious than cannabis.
via : Telegraph
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