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Following a speech attacking harm-reduction and ruling out reform, by new Lothian & Borders head Roy Cameron, from the audience, Lord McCluskey, called for cannabis to be decriminalised After the procurator fiscal ruled it was not in the public interest to prosecute a medical user, there were calls for cannabis to be made available medically Ian Hislop said cannabis was remarkably safe compared with many other drugs and that police and court time and money were wasted criminalising cannabis users

LCC Scotland has identified four possible options which could be introduced quickly, perhaps as pilot studies. The UN single convention will not affect these options. We have laid out the benefits to society that each will bring, and we now are going to solicit the opinion of every interested group or individual. We intend to publish our findings for the media and on the Internet.
Options for Change
Decriminalisation of possession of small quantities of cannabis Tincture of cannabis available on prescription Allow the growth of several cannabis plants without a licence Allow cannabis to be sold in licensed members-only clubs
There could either be fixed civil penalties (similar to parking tickets) or there could be no penalties (possession would be made legal). Cannabis users would no longer be criminalised, so police and courts time and resources would be freed to tackle serious crimes. There would be little saving in prison space and expenditure. There would be little effect on underage use, money would continue to go to organised crime, and cannabis could be still be 'cut' with unhealthy unknown substances and sold by people who may also deal in hard drugs Medical users would have access to cannabis, and removed from criminality, freeing some police, court and prison resources. There would be some savings in health service budgets as cannabis replaced expensive synthetic drugs. No effect on other problems. Individuals can produce their own tobacco or alcohol, so long as they do not sell it. If cannabis users were allowed to do the same, recreational and medical users could remove themselves from criminality, and have access to a source of known purity. However young people would be unlikely to have the patience, resources or specialist knowledge to grow their own. Less money would go to the black market, none would go to government. Police, courts and prison resources would be freed to tackle serious crimes. Jobs would be created in the horticultural supply industry. The supply of cannabis would be regulated, ensuring a pure supply, and revenue would be raised for the government. This revenue could be spent on drug education and health centres. Since proof of age would be a requirement for membership, minors would be unable to join and obtain cannabis. Safe usage and behaviour could be promoted in-house, and any link with hard drugs would be broken. Jobs would be created in the catering industry


An Aberdeen HIV/Drugs worker had a letter published in both the Press and Journal and the Evening Express on Thursday the 1st of August.

In a footnote the Evening Express said: "As the debate on legalsing cannabis gains momentum we publish the case for changing the law. Let us know what you think about the issue."

You can email either the Press and Journal or the Evening Express and tell them your views.

Cannabis is Safe

There can be little doubt amongst those with an informed and open mind that cannabis use is remarkably unproblematic compared with many other drugs. With this in mind, I would suggest that one of the principles of civilised, democratic society is that people should be free to take acceptable risks (mountain climbing, bungee jumping, boxing etc) provided that it doesn't harm anyone else.

The current laws tend to criminalise thousands of ordinary law-abiding citizens and take up valuable police manpower, court time and millions of pounds that I suggest would be better targeted at tackling serious crime against people and property.

Of every 10 recorded cannabis offences, nine involve simple possession of cannabis. This puts a new slant on the maxim 'possession is nine tenths of the law'.

The amount of money spent by the regular user, around 20 per week, is unlikely to initiate crime itself. A growing number of senior police officers, judges, lawyers and doctors see legalisation of soft drugs as the only way to tackle both drug use and associated crime. I would suggest that cannabis use should be an issue of social and health education, similar to alchohol and cigarettes.

In 1992, a petition was handed to the Home Secretary asking the Government to recognise that the overwhelming weight of evidence demonstrates that the prohibition of cannabis has indeed promoted criminality, conflict and more harm to the individual and society than it's use ever has. It is governed by a law which has proven immoral in principle and unworkable in practice. The answer could lie in the abolition of the possesion of cannabis as a criminal offence, and a thorough review to examine appropriate measures for the establishment of legal and properly regulated sources for the supply of cannabis.

To quote both the Government's 1981 report by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Administrative Law Judge of the American Drug Enforcement Agency: "There is insufficient evidence to enable us to reach any incontestable conclusions as to the effects on the human body of the use of cannabis, but much of the research undertaken so far has failed to demonstrate positive and significant harmful effects in man attributable solely to the use of cannabis." (ACMD 1981) "In strict medical terms, cannabis is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. Cannabis in it's natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." (DEA 1988)

Ian Hislop
HIV/Drugs Worker


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