Jacqui Smith gets tough with adults caught with cannabis

Home secretary Jacqui Smith announced tougher penalties for adults possessing cannabis today amid fears that the stronger strains of the drug flooding the market could damage mental health.

Under the plans, which the Ministry of Justice will shortly consult on, adults caught in possession of cannabis for a second time would be likely to receive a £80 on-the-spot fine, rather than a warning, as at present.

If caught a third time, the carrier would face arrest and penalties ranging from a caution to prosecution.

The tougher penalties would come into force alongside the drug’s reclassification from class C to B, which Smith announced in May. This is due to come into force on 26 January 2009, subject to approval from both Houses of Parliament.

Smith sanctioned the recommendation for a “strengthened and escalating enforcement approach” for possession by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The move follows the increased availability in the UK of stronger strains of cannabis such as skunk. Smith said she was “extremely concerned” about the risks they posed to mental health, particularly if young people started using them at an early age or to ‘binge smoke’.

She added: “We need to act now to protect future generations.”

However, the current procedure for under-18s caught in possession, under which they receive a reprimand and then a final warning for a second offence, will remain in place.

Related articles

Reclassify cannabis to Class B, home secretary says

News editor’s blog on reclassification of cannabis

Expert guide to substance misuse

Join the debate on CareSpace


External information

Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.