Government set to defy its own experts and upgrade cannabis again
The Labour government in the UK is set to do a U-turn on its Cannabis policy today, reclassifying the drug as a 'class B' offense after it had downgraded it to 'class C' in 2004 in order to free police to deal with more serious drug cases.
The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, will today stress the dangers of more potent strains of cannabis as she is expected to defy medical opinion by announcing that the drug will be upgraded from class C to class B.
Smith is expected to justify her decision by highlighting the strength of "skunk" strains of herbal cannabis now widely available. Gordon Brown last week warned of the "more lethal quality" of much of the cannabis now available, described it as a gateway drug, and said that reclassification was needed to "send a message to young people that it was unacceptable".
The decision flies in the face of recommendations to be published today by the government's scientific experts, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, that cannabis should remain class C.
The ACMD was asked last July by Smith to take their third look at cannabis classification in recent years. While acknowledging that cannabis use had fallen significantly since David Blunkett's decision in 2004 to downgrade cannabis from class B to class C, she said there was real public concern about the potential mental health effects, particularly of stronger forms.