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Europe: Londoners Fined For Marijuana Possession Are Tearing Up Their Tickets

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #593)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Since the British Labor government's rescheduling of cannabis as a more serious drug went into effect in January, police have undertaken a three-pronged strategy to deal with pot smokers. A first offense garners a written warning, a second offense garners a $128 fine, and a third offense earns prosecution. But second-time cannabis offenders, those who face the fine, are not lining up to pay those fines.

UK Parliament building, London
According to the London Standard, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get the data, only 42% of those ticketed had paid their fines within the regulation 21 days they are allowed. The courts will have to pursue each individual to collect the fine, a process the courts already have problems with in regard to collecting fines in general.

Of the 565 ticketed pot possessors who have failed to pay, only 13 are described by the Metropolitan Police as subject to prosecution with a court hearing pending. Another 470 are marked merely as "fine registered," with the pursuit of payment being delegated to magistrates. And 82 cases are simply marked "unpaid," although officials told the Standard those, too, would be pursued.

As interesting as the non-payment rate, however, is the window the data open on the level of cannabis enforcement in London. In the fourth period from January through April, police issued warnings to 12,482 people, issued fines to 977 second-offenders, and sent 530 third-offenders off to court.

At that rate, London police will warn, fine, or arrest about 42,000 people a year for minor cannabis infractions. Those kinds of numbers put London in the same league as New York City at the height of the Giuliani crackdown when New York City accounted for roughly 10% of all pot arrests in the United States.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


At that rate, London police will warn, fine, or arrest about 42,000 people a year...

This notion is based on a heavy assumption that the groups caught in each of the 3 time periods will all be exclusive. We'll only be able to reasonably predict a yearly total when the May to August data is out.

Of course, what the data doesn't offer at all is harm of use vs. harm of the system, and how many caught were engaged in illegal/irresponsible activity vs. just relaxing.

Fri, 07/10/2009 - 2:11pm Permalink
Eris888 (not verified)

Er, aren't we supposed to be in a recession?!

F**king retards. Legalise & tax Drugs

(and cancel 'third world' debt while you're at it)

Mon, 07/20/2009 - 1:49pm Permalink

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