Along with a copy of "The Challenge"
Dear Ms Smith,
If society is to achieve any success in its effort to reduce personal and social damage through drugs use, we must continually re-examine our own understanding and attitudes to drug use, misuse and abuse. It is worth noting that the overwhelming majority of those who use cannabis are not "problem users" and "normal" use ought not be labelled as "abuse".
We also need to examine the successes, failures and costs of past and present control regimes.
Can we really justify punishing people for cannabis possession or growing a few plants when clearly neither individual nor society benefit through the prosecutions?
How does the implementation of law conflict with Human Rights, harm minimalisation and good policing?
Above all it is essential to instigate a continuing dialogue between government, drug agencies, police AND users.
We need to create a just and workable legislation that reduces harm from drugs without infringing upon personal privacy and the rights to choose ones own lifestyle and beliefs.
We need legislation that is aimed at PROTECTION, not control.
To achieve this, we encourage:
a) A truly open and honest dialogue among professionals, government, the public and the cannabis using community,
b) Meaningful discussions on whether it would be preferable to have a system of licensed cannabis retail outlets incorporating all necessary quality control and harm reduction provisions, rather than criminal supply chains that seem unstoppable,
c) Discussion between Government, employers and workers representatives (TUC) on the value, reliability, cost and the need for universal testing for recent past cannabis use.
With this and The Challenge in mind, we would appreciate an opportunity to sit across the table and discuss some of these points. After all, we all wish to see an end to the problems that surround cannabis use under the present system – our mutual aim is to decrease risk and harm
AND HER REPLY
Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street, London SW1 P 4DF
Switchboard 020 7035 4848
HomeOffice Reference: T19384/7 2 August 2007
Dear Mr Barnard,
Thank you for your letter to the Home Secretary, received on 5 July, requesting, with Alun Buffry, Dilys Wood, Chris Baldwin and Winston Matthews, a meeting with the Home Secretary about cannabis.
I am sorry to say that, because of the pressures on her diary, it is not possible for the Home Secretary to commit to meeting you in the foreseeable future.
You will know that the Prime Minister announced on 18 July that, as part of the consultation to review the national drug strategy, the Government will alsoconsult on whether it is now right that cannabis should be moved from Class C back to Class B under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. (To see the drug strategy consultation document Drugs: Our Community, Your Say and respond, please visit http://druQs.homeoffice.Qov.uk)
Though statistics show that cannabis use has fallen significantly, there is real public concern about the potential mental health effects of cannabis use and, in particular, the use and availability of stronger forms of the drug, commonly known as skunk. In these circumstances, the Government is considering whether it is necessary to toughen the penalties relating to cannabis use to complement its education and treatment programmes.
The Home Secretary has therefore asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to again assess the medical and social scientific basis of the classification of cannabis. This review will take into account the fact that there are stronger strains of cannabis that may cause more harm. I am sorry to have to send what I know will be a disappointing reply.
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