GOVERNMENT MUST LISTEN TO EXPERT ADVICE ON CANNABIS - HUHNE
Commenting on reports that ministers will overrule the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs if it does not recommend the reclassification of cannabis, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said: “There is no point in wasting
taxpayers’ money on an advisory body of experts if ministers ignore its evidence.
“If confirmed, this is an astonishing admission that the Government intends to steer policy by prejudice not proof. “The advisory council must take on board the increasing reports of the mental health effects of high strength cannabis, but ministers must be guided by the science and the evidence as assessed by the council.”
Now, call me old fashioned but I thought it was official LibDem policy to legalise cannabis. I was right. Lib Dem national policy is ‘to put the supply of cannabis on a legal, regulated basis’, ‘adopting a policy of not prosecuting possession for own use, social supply to adults or cultivation of cannabis plants for own use’… ‘repealing Sections 8(c) and (d) of the Misuse of Drugs Act so it is no longer a crime for the occupier or manager of premises to permit someone to use cannabis on those premises’ (Drugs Policy, agreed at Liberal Democrat spring conference, Manchester, March 2002).
Their latest policy briefing in drugs confirms this position, stating: ‘it is not in the public interest to prosecute individuals for possession of cannabis for their own use, cultivation of small numbers of cannabis plants for their own use, or social supply of cannabis’ (Drug Law Reform, Liberal Democrat Policy Briefing 10, January 2005).
The Lib Dems voted in favour of the downgrading of Cannabis to a “class C” drug, with their Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten saying: “I have come to the conclusion that this re-classification is a step in the right direction” (Hansard, 29 October 2003, Col. 347).
Lib Dem Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick, the former Borough Commander of Police in Lambeth, also believes Cannabis use should effectively be legalized. He said: “Arresting people for smoking dope is pointless” … “It's a waste of time, the war is lost” (The Guardian, 28 March 2001).
Although I disagree with them, these are perfectly legitimate views to hold. But they can't have it both ways. They can't argue for reclassification and legalisation at the same time. Either you consider cannabis a dangerous drug or you don't. So, Chris Huhne, which is to be?