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July 1996 Cannabis News

4th July NEW LCC SCOTLAND WEB SITE LAUNCHED
29th July CUSTOMS OFFICER DIES IN BOAT BUST
29th July JUDGE CALLS FOR DEBATE ON DECRIMINALISATION


hemp!

LCC SCOTLAND WEB SITE LAUNCHED

Legalise Cannabis Campaign Scotland co-ordinator Graeme Steel has launched our new worldwide web site. The site will feature Scottish news, prisoners and medical users stories, and the opinions of Scottish professionals and experts about drug law reform. LCC Scotland hope to encourage political lobbying electronically and to publish material which would not be seen in mainstream publications. The launch was held at the Electric Frog cybercafe in Edinburgh. After only 2 hours we received our first supporter form reply from a medical user in Yorkshire.
Steel said I believe that the internet could be the perfect medium for revitalising our democracy, by involving individuals in the decisions that their leaders take. We intend to use the internet to publish information, cheaply and without censorship; to distribute campaigning materials, and to share resources with other campaigning groups in Britain and worldwide.
hemp!

Monday 29th July

CUSTOMS OFFICER DIES IN BOAT BUST

The war on drugs produced another casualty, after a tragic accident during a drugs raid off the east coast of Scotland. Alistair Soutar from Dundee was crushed between two boats after he fell while boarding. He was airlifted 80 miles to hospital in Inverness, but died later from the massive internal injuries he had received. Nine men were arrested in the carefully planned customs operation, and several tonnes of cannabis were recovered.
The accident happened while officers from the customs cutter Sentinel were boarding the 36ft ex-lifeboat Ocean Jubilee, which is registered as a private pleasure craft in London. Just before the officers were about to board, a gas cylinder exploded and the Ocean Jubilee burst into flames. Also involved in the operation were a fishery protection vessel and a rig support vessel which put out the fire.
A second vessel, registered in Gibraltar, was also boarded elsewhere in the North Sea, off Aberdeen. The two seized boats underwent forensic tests in Wick and Aberdeen, and customs officials said further arrests could follow. The next day five men from Edinburgh and four Dutchmen appeared in court in Inverness and Edinburgh accused of involvement in cannabis smuggling.
Ex-Royal Navy submariner Alistair Soutar, 47, had served on cutters for 8 years. In 1992 he was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for "extreme bravery" after plucking to safety five sailors in Dartmouth Harbour on the south coast of England. He was twice married with children from both marriages. In the following days, right-wing tabloids linked the story with Lord McClusky's calls for sensible debate by asking "well what did he die for then?"
hemp!

Monday 29th July

JUDGE CALLS FOR DEBATE ON DECRIMINALISATION

One of Scotland's most senior judges, Lord McClusky, has called for an open debate on drugs. He said that "people who advocate the decriminalisation of cannabis need to be listened to and not condemed out of hand." Lord McClusky was responding to the Scottish Office's white paper on crime and punishment, which proposes a tough stance against all drugs.
Lord McClusky, 67, was solicitor-general during the 1974-79 Labour government and has sat in the House of Lords for 20 years. He said the government's plans were "shallow, selective, ignorant populism" and "inadequate". The SNP welcomed the call for debate, Labour's George Robertson said it was an interesting point of view, and Conservative MP Phil Gallie said it was an "oddball response" that Michael Forsyth would not consider highly. The Parole Board for Scotland have also criticised the plans.
In his nine-page report Lord McClusky wrote that the criminal justice system was being undermined and weakened: "If the law continues to treat all use of [illegal] drugs as criminal abuse, it will further alienate and criminalise large numbers of younger people who regard the use of certain drugs in sensible quantities and settings as providing enjoyment without significantly threatening their health." The Scottish Office paper refers to drug misuse and abuse, but never drug use.
He also called for different approaches to the problems of drugs. "Drug abuse is a major factor in crime in the UK. It needs to be considered carefully, dispassionately and thoroughly. There is an absence of convincing evidence that present policies are effective. More of the same is not likely to be effective. More severe criminal and restrictive policies have not succeded in the USA."
hemp!


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