UK's New "Drug Czar" Rejects Legalization of Cannabis 12/5/97

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On November 24, Keith Hellawell, Britain's first "drug czar," told a group of reporters in Scotland that the debate now raging in England over the legal status of cannabis was academic. Hellawell said that the British government would not decriminalize cannabis any time in the next decade, nor would any other European government. Ironically, he also told reporters that any review of the law should be "dispassionate and objective." Hellawell admits to never having used cannabis.

David Borden, DRCNet's executive director, had this to say about Hellawell's comments: "It's quite interesting that in the midst of the very contentious debate that is now going on in England regarding the legal status of cannabis, Mr. Hellawell has chosen to downplay the possibility of change. In addition, he seems to have taken a page out of the play- book of America's 'drug czar' by ignoring some important facts in proclaiming the strength of Prohibition. The Netherlands has had de-facto decriminalization of cannabis for decades. And in many other places on the continent, most notably in parts of Germany and in Spain, cannabis possession has been largely ignored by authorities. So while the world's political climate, and the U.S. in particular, may keep these countries from formally "legalizing" cannabis, the landscape in Europe is very much one of increasing reform." (Interestingly, Dutch teens use cannabis at one of the lowest rates in Europe.)

Visit the Independent's Cannabis Decriminalization Campaign at http://www.independent.co.uk/sindypot/index.htm.

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