The main reason that the UK Government has given as a basis for its refusal to consider repeal of the cannabis law is that it would pose an extra risk to public health, with particular reference to the possible detrimental effects of cannabis smoking on the mental health and future mental health of young teenagers - the words psychosis and schizophrenia are bandied around as if it were a common place occurance.
So adults cannabis users that have and pose to problems to others are punished as some sort of deterrent meant to discourage teenagers from smoing cannabis.
EVEN IF cannabis did cause schizophrenia it is obviously in such a tiny minority of users that is is still in dispute, and things are not banned which means people are not generally punished for things that detrimentally effect others.
Alcohol, tobacco, aspirin, pills, sugar, peanuts and even rock climbing and sunbathing can effect a minority is bad ways, sometimes even fatal - marriage can and does have bad consequences on the many - let alone guns and knives - but the law does not threaten to punish all those that participate in the activity or possess or consume the substance or item EVEN then.
No Victim No Crime.
To punish a cannabis user - especially one that benefits from their use - as a deterent to try to stop and unknown and tiny minority of users that may or may not have suffered ille effects is simply nonsensicalThe argument that it leads to hard drugs, again for a minority of users that later tried hard drugs - is no reason even so to punish those that did or those that did not take hard drugs - makes as much sense as punishing kids with toy guns or water pistols because most offences involving real guns are committee by peopele that started off with toy guns.In fact there is no reason not to end prohibtion and the Government refuses to budge because they "fear" the consequences, losing votes, and loss of revenue from the massive profiteering that prohibition enables for pharmaceutical and petrochemicals etc.
We believe that the prohibition of cannabis, presently embodied in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and associated legislation has:
- proved ineffective in the achievement of its objects,
- been counter productive in its side-effects,
- wasted public resources,
- been destructive in its cultivation of criminality and been inhumane in its operation.
A legal regulated control of cannabis, would:
- reduce drug-acquisition crime,
- facilitate the education both of the young and of adult users,
- reduce the incidence of problematic drug use,
- facilitate the deployment of therapeutic support,
- release public and Police Service resources for other deployment,
- constitute a system compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,
- and generate a new and acceptable source of public income.
We are concerned by the failure of our current democratic institutions and public authorities (as defined by the Human Rights Act) to address these issues.
To date, in a debate that asks whether cannabis use ought to be decriminalised or legalised, those who support current policies need not utter a single word in its defence. They can simply sit back and wait for their opponents to make predictions, and then challenge the accuracy of those predictions.
WHY IS THIS?
We believe this debate cannot proceed sensibly unless it begins with reasons in favour of punishing people who use cannabis.
GOVERNMENT MUST JUSTIFY THE LAW!
This document is designed to assist you in you deliberations.
To ensure constructive consultation we invite you to reproduce this document [unedited] and/or forward the URL http://www.ccguide.org/lca/challenge.php to anyone who you think needs to know the truth.
Know What You're Getting Into Before Speaking Against Legal Regulated Control http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/dea/pubs/legaliz/aware.htm
If we were to ask: "What is the Government's 10-year Drugs Strategy on cannabis controls?" we doubt that 1 in 10,000 of the general public would have the foggiest notion what we were on about!
To increase the public understanding of the cannabis and the controversy surrounding it,we invite you to participate in a open and honest dialogue regarding the future of UK cannabis control policies in which fear, prejudice and punitive prohibition yield to common sense, science, public health, human rights and practicality.
In the past decade there appears to have been a change in opinion about the harmfulness of cannabis.
There has also been a limited debate on allowing personal use of cannabis such as under 'reclassification', 'decriminalisation" and a legal regulated supply. However, it has not been as clear as what would be desirable or what the Government's intentions are.
Laws to combat drugs are like a jigsaw puzzle with the linking pieces missing, being regularly added by the Home Office with little or no parliamentary debate, let alone public discussion.
The public are forced to guess or rely on chat show hosts and media hype to form opinions as to what the legislator has in mind when they resort to punishment for cannabis offences. This has resulted in the general public becoming confused and insufficiently informed.
This is not surprising. Consecutive governments' "War on Drugs" has evolved into a complex and complicated system, misunderstood by most people, including many of those responsible for implementing Government Anti-Drugs policy!
Since the mid 1980s, consecutive UK governments have increased funding and actions to tackle illegal substances on five main fronts: international co-operation, enforcement, deterrence, prevention and treatment.
Estimated UK government funding in these areas for 1993-94 was 526 million. Today this figure is allegedly billions annually but there are no comprehensive figures available! [Tackling Drugs Together October 1994 ISBN O-10-126782-7]
Despite these increasing efforts, there can be little doubt that cannabis suppliers have succeeded in maintaining the supply to satisfy the ever-increasing demand. In fact, it is hard to see how they could have been more successful had cannabis not been banned!
It therefore makes sense to examine the successes and failures of past and present systems of control, to set out the available choices, to examine how they would work if applied in the UK and try to predict their likely consequences!
Is it worth doing? We think it is!
This consultation is for everyone with an interest in our drug policy, [including those who favour retaining criminal sanctions punishments]. We are confident it will:
- help remove many of the misconceptions about cannabis and the law,
- demonstrate that cannabis is so much more than a recreational substance,
- show that many long-term social, ecological and economical benefits can be gained by rescheduling cannabis.
Why is it our legislators have absolutely nothing to say on behalf of the position they endorse? Instead, the public are forced to guess or rely on chat show hosts and media hype to form their opinions as to what the legislator has in mind when they resort to punishment for cannabis offences.
This is not good enough: The burden to produce justification must be placed on government!
However. Despite David Blunkett's request for a rational debate on allowing personal use of cannabis including proposals for reclassification, decriminalisation and a legal regulated supply it has not been as clear what the Government's or the Opposition party?s policies are on cannabis.
The Conservative Party has branded the Home Affairs Select Committee's recommendation to reclassify cannabis and governments proposed liberalisation of disposal of cannabis possession offences to finance the war on addictive substances as "muddled and dangerous policy".
Instead, they back Sweden?s strategy where the public report suspected drug users and a huge expansion of drug rehabilitation facilities and prisons to lock the non-conformist up - an approach described recently by David Blunkett as "unworkable".
George Orwell said: "Political language is designed to make a lie appear the truth and give solidity to wind"!
Today it would appear government is embarked on the dangerous USA coercive abstinence strategy, based on the belief that we can put enough people in prison to effectively control the drug problem. In other words, we will make the drug users get treatment or go to jail and put all the drug dealers or cannabis cultivators in jail.
Let's suppose we agree with this. Now, exactly how many prison cells will we need to build to carry out this plan? How many prisoners is the current plan going to take?
What is the total cost to date for drug testing alone? Is government minded to introduce universal drug testing?
What about human rights? How many people will lose a job or not get one, or have driving licences pulled because they use cannabis? How many children will be expelled from schools for testing positive for cannabis? In short, are we talking ourselves into a 'controlled' society?
If society is to achieve any success in its drug control and awareness programmes, we need to be truthful, use correct terminology and study the evidence and research already available.
We must examine: the failures and successes of present and past control regimes, how the implementation of law conflict with Human Rights, harm reduction, good practice, the need to create a just and workable legislation that reduces harm from cannabis without infringing upon personal privacy and the rights to choose one's own lifestyle or belief, legislation aimed at protection not punishment, our own understanding and attitudes towards drugs use, misuse and abuse.
Note: The overwhelming majority of those who use cannabis are not 'problem users' and normal use ought not be labelled as misuse.
We must ask: would it be preferable to have a legal system of cannabis retail outlets incorporating all necessary quality control and harm reduction provisions, rather than a criminal justice issue? What is the value, reliability, cost and the need for universal testing? Whether we have good reasons to continue to punish people who use cannabis or grow a few plants for their own use or share with friends at home (non-commercial)?
The point is: Punishment is the most powerful weapon in the CJS arsenal. It is the most terrible thing that any state can do to its citizens. These sanctions should not be invoked casually; they always require a compelling defence.
Any sort to punishment requires a justification. We must always be prepared to show why what we are doing is right. For no individual should be deprived of their liberty unless there are excellent reasons for doing so!
The basic question we ask is not whether we have good reasons not to punish cannabis users but whether we have good reasons to continue to punish people who use cannabis or grow a few plants for their own use or share with friends at home.
Are the laws just? Are they fair?
NOTE: "The Challenge": "Cannabis, Challeging the Criminal Justice System" was authored by Don Barnard and Alun Buffry