Cannabis classification to be reviewed

The government is to consult on a new drug strategy and will revisit the question of whether cannabis should be reclassified from a class C to the more serious class B, Gordon Brown announced yesterday.

The Prime Minister told parliament yesterday that the Home Office would publish a consultation document next week outlining plans for drugs education, treatment and “supporting communities troubled by drug dealers”. The government’s current 10-year drugs strategy ends in 2008.

The Prime Minister will also ask the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to review the classification of cannabis, although any reclassification will need to be agreed by parliament.

Cannabis was downgraded from a class B to class C in 2004, a decision which was reviewed and backed a year later by the ACMD. But a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the issue had to be kept under review and there had been reports of stronger cannabis strains on the market.

Use of cannabis has been increasingly linked to mental health problems with research published in June revealing that mental health admission relating to cannabis had almost doubled since 1997.

But charity Drugscope expressed disappointment at the decision, saying the “recent debate about the health risk posed by cannabis has been led by some sensationalist coverage in sections of the media rather than a balanced, evidence-based approach.”

Its chief executive Martin Barnes said: “Repeated movements on classification will only serve to further confuse young people, and increase the political point-scoring, at a time when cannabis use is falling among young people and adults alike.”

Is Gordon Brown’s decision to look again at the classification of cannabis based on sound medical concerns or media sensationalism? Have your say

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