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British Government forced to publish consultation paper on the future of drugs classification 2006

We all know and understand that the drug laws are supposedly based on the harm drugs can cause, hence the ABC classification system. What is also becoming common knowledge is that the whole thing is in a mess. It now seems that the government has been aware of this for some time and tried to get out of the mess by adopting some other measure to justify prohibition.

The drug equality allianceRe-wind to the start of the war on (some) drugs; The UN Single Convention had high ideals:

Recognizing that addiction to narcotic drugs constitutes a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind

“Narcotic” drugs of course came to mean all manner of substances quite unconnected with the sleep inducing properties of true “narcotics”. But it was to comply with the aims of the Single Convention that the UK introduced the mess that is the “Misuse of drugs act” – the MoD act. Right from the start the UK accepted that not all “drugs” were equal and that some were more dangerous than others. Cannabis in particular was and still is the big problem. Hence we have the ABC system which is supposed to rank drugs according to their harmfulness and thus guide the penalties to be applied for possession and trading.

The real story starts back in 2005 when Charles Clarke as Home Secretary asked the ACMD to have another look at their earlier advice to place cannabis in class C of the MoD act.  Clarke’s stated reason at the time was because of concerns about the effect of cannabis on mental health. This of course was at the height of the reefer madness V2 campaign, as reports at the time make clear; the BBC for example chose to quote Paul Corry, an activist in the RETHINK charity who claimed

At last the government has woken up to the risk they have been running of a drug induced mental health crisis,” he said. “There is mounting evidence that cannabis dramatically increases the risk of developing schizophrenia in people where there is a family history of the illness, and significantly increases the risk even where there is no family history.

Actually there isn’t but that was how the issue was being reported in the quality media at the time, the tabloids of course were far worse. So even mild cynics would suspect Clarke  referred cannabis back to the ACMD  to take the issue off the political agenda in what was after all an election year, when the Tories had been playing the drug warrior card.

Read the full article at the UKCIA News Blog