The United Kingdom’s chief scientific adviser, Professor John Beddington, made clear his opposition to the removal of Professor David Nutt from the Advisory group on drug policy. Professor Beddington strongly supported the views of Nutt who opposes attempts to classify use of cannabis as a major crime, and stated, “I think the scientific evidence is absolutely clear cut” that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than use of cannabis. “I would agree with it.” The Gordon Brown government is attempting to classify use of cannabis from a Class C to a Class B drug.
The main issue raised by Beddington is that “the government should take into account scientific advice where it is given even when that advice is not a complete consensus.” In the United States we have been living for eight years under a president who not only did not listen to scientists, he ordered that their ideas be recast to support his own.
The Great British Parliament Expense Account Debacle led to another resignation from the government over how those in Parliament charge the nation for their daily expenses. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has been on the hot seat for weeks when it was disclosed she asked for payment for her husband’s watching of porno films and she claimed her sister’s home as her main residence. The silly season is upon the island kingdom and one after another of members of Parliament have decided to live off their own income rather than that of the people of their nation. Ms. Smith was the youngest Home Secretary since Winston Churchill a hundred years ago, but her tenure was marked by several fiascos. She attempted to get a 42 day detention policy and angered many by ignoring recommendations by scientists on policy for cannabis.
In a sense, Jacqui Smith is simply a symptom of the downfall of the British Labor Party which historically stood for the rights of working people, the oppressed and assistance to those in need of a place of refuge. Jacqui Smith has transformed the policy of asylum into one in which individuals are returned to torture or death rather than being given refuge in England.
The old adage about if you can’t beat them, then join them, is being given an interesting experiment in Holland as the city of Eindhoven is suggesting a plan by which it would have a plantation to grown cannabis and then supply local coffee shops where the sale of such drugs is perfectly legal. The Netherlands has long been famous for its lax laws which allow for the possession of less than 5 grams of marijuana and its sale in coffee shops. Rob de Gijzel, mayor of Eindhoven says, “It’s time we experimented with a system of regulated plantations so we can have strict guidelines and control on the quality and price.”
There are concerns on the increasing strength of unregulated cannabis. There is hope a government controlled policy and ownership of cannabis will deal a death blow to criminal elements. Criminalizing human behavior never works.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is prepared to defy the weight of medical and scientific opinion in order to issue togher new laws today on possessiion of cannabis. He is overruling his own expert advisers and will reverse the downgrading of illegal drugs from a Class B to a Class C substance. He is threatening cannabis smokers with five-yyear prison terms. There is evidence current cannabis on the streets is 20 to 30 times as strong as the cannibis smoked in the 1970. Brown has spoken of the “lethal” effects of the new strains as if they were comparable with the harm caused by heroin and crack cocaine. The prime minsiter apparently has bought into the hysteria which claims there is an epidemic of psychosis created by cannabis even though no medical evidence exists of such a situation.
Medical experts are concerned about any increase in the power of cannabis, but they regard the solution as lying in the area of education and support for cannabis users, not sending them to jail. Brown appointed an Advisory Council to investigate the situation and it recommended maintaining cannabis as a Class C level drug, but Brown has decided to go against the recommendation of his own panel. The advisory council concluded: “Th evidence suggests at worst that using cannabis increases the lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia by less than 1 per cent.” Medical experts have no evidence that schizphrenia has increased by any significant factor over the past thirty years.
The Gordon Brown road leads to building more jails, imprisoning more people, transforming a drug user into a criminal, and, most probably ensuring poor people and those from minority backgrounds are the ones placed in prisons. The friends and colleagues of Gordon Brown will not be going to jail.