Skip to main content

Europe: British Drug Advisors Say Leave Marijuana Where It Is, But PM Brown Is Set to Ignore Them

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #530)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

BBC News reported Thursday that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the official body that advises the British government on drug policy, is recommending that marijuana remain as a lower category Class C drug rather than be rescheduled as a more serious Class B drug. That puts the ACMD at odds with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has clearly signaled that he wants to see marijuana rescheduled.

But rescheduling marijuana in the face of the ACMD's recommendations would put the Labor government in the awkward position of rejecting the findings of the 23-member panel of drug experts -- something it has never done before.

Marijuana was originally scheduled as Class B drug, with possession punishable by up to five years in prison, but was rescheduled as Class C (up to two years in prison) in 2004 after an ACMD review of the evidence. The ACMD again reviewed marijuana in 2006 and found no reason to reschedule it. Prime Minister Brown then asked the ACMD to again review marijuana.

The BBC is reporting that this third review will maintain the ACMD's position that marijuana should remain a Class C drug.

That will put the advisory panel in direct conflict with Brown, who has from the beginning of his tenure signaled he wanted marijuana to return to Class B. Earlier this week, at his monthly news conference, he was at it again.

He said that while he would consider the ACMD's report, he felt that changing the law was necessary. "I believe that if we are sending out a signal particularly to teenagers, and particularly those at the most vulnerable age, young teenagers, that we in any way find cannabis acceptable, given all that we now know about the changes in the way cannabis is being sold in this country, that is not the right thing to do," he said. "My personal view has been pretty well known for some time. Given the changing nature of the stock of cannabis that is coming into the country and greater damage that that appears to be doing to people who use it, there is a stronger case for sending out a signal that cannabis is not only illegal but it is unacceptable."

The ACMD has not released its official recommendation, but is expected to do so later this month. The Home Office will decide in May whether to take a bold step backwards on marijuana policy.

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.


Anonymous (not verified)

So Gordon Brown would rather send the message to teenagers that they shouldn't take advice from any medical and political experts rather they should base their decisions on ideology? Is this his message to teenagers, be stubborn and ill-informed?

Sat, 04/05/2008 - 3:50pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Should everyone's lives be dictated by "the message we send to kids"? Let alone that the message that marijuana is so dangerous is a fraudulent message, shouldn't adults get to be adults? First of all, adults are the ones in charge; second, most people in the world are adults; and third, kids will be adults in just a few years. We are a society of adults. I agree we should have laws in place to help protect and guide people during the process of growing up, but we shouldn't base our laws on what people might or might not understand during the first years of their lives.

Wed, 04/09/2008 - 11:31pm Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.