Reefer Toughness Fills Prisons But Doesn’t Work

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.