British Newspaper Launches Campaign to Legalize Cannabis 10/3/97

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The Independent on Sunday, a national British newspaper, launched a campaign last week to persuade both Britons and their government to legalize the possession of cannabis for personal use. The campaign has the backing of over 100 prominent citizens, including celebrities, business leaders, prominent physicians, former senior police officials and Sir Paul McCartney. The paper and its editors vow to continue the campaign "until the law is changed."

This very public challenge to British drug policy comes as the Labour government is preparing to announce the appointment of an American-style "drug-czar" to coordinate its war effort. The paper's editor, Rosie Boycott, told the Associated Press, "I think we can win this campaign, it may take a long time, but I believe we have right on our side. We need a more open debate about the whole drug policy issue in this country."

The British government appears to disagree, however. Home Secretary Jack Straw told independent television, "There is a profoundly pessimistic assumption behind what the Independent on Sunday says and that is that we are losing the war on drugs. It's not true."


A study released last week by the British government says that 25% of Britons aged 16-29 have used an illegal drug in the past year. Of those, the vast majority cited marijuana as the substance they had used with 21% of young people having inhaled over the previous 12 months. Amphetamines and ecstasy were distant runners-up, with only 1% of those surveyed admitting to having ever tried heroin. The survey also revealed that approximately 1 in 2 youths have at least tried an illegal drug at some time in their lives.

Contrary to Mr. Straw's assertion, Britain does indeed appear to be losing the war on drugs.

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Issue #14, 10/3/97 Web Magazine Rates Drug Library a Perfect Five | DPF Conference This Month: The 11th International Conference on Drug Policy taking place in New Orleans | Swiss Vote Overwhelmingly Against Zero-Tolerance | House Judiciary Committee holds hearings on medical marijuana | Needle Exchange Funding: Grant info for large, small and start-up needle exchange programs | Substance Abuse Research Grants: Call for proposals from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation | McCaffrey and Methadone | British Newspaper Launches Campaign to Legalize Cannabis | Rash of Overdoses in Australia | Colombian President Defends His Drug War Record | Link of the Week: Monitoring the Colombia situation | Quote of the Week: An about face by ex-general McCaffrey on the public's ability to decide the medical marijuana issue | Editorial: The Swiss opt out of another war
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