Cannabis will not be re-classified as a class B drug, the home secretary announced yesterday.
Charles Clarke has decided not to reverse the decision made two years ago to downgrade cannabis to a class C drug.
“I have decided to accept the Advisory Council’s recommendation, which is supported by the police and by most drugs and mental health charities, to keep the current classification of cannabis,” he said in a statement to parliament.
In March 2005 the home secretary asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to examine new evidence on the harmfulness of cannabis and whether this affected the classification of the drug.
The council recommends that the drug stays as a class C but that further research on the mental health implications is needed before any decision to re-classify is made.
Clarke said he was influenced by the fact that cannabis use had fallen by four per cent among 16 to 24-year-olds from 28 per cent in 1998 to 24 per cent last year.
The preliminary assessment is that classifying the drug as a class C has not led to an increase in use, he added.
However a public information campaign will be launched to “equip young people with the knowledge and encourage them to make the right decisions”.
“Everyone needs to understand that cannabis is harmful and it is illegal,” Clarke concluded. “Our education and health campaigns will clearly transmit that message.”