Evening Standard Comment
The politics of cannabis lags behind the scientific findings about the damage it can cause. This week the prime minister made clear that he favoured the relcassification of the drug from class C to class B. This change of direction is salutary but it will take time and political effort to be translated into policy.
Yet as we report today, the Priory rehab clinic is already offering treatment to children aged 12-18 years old suffering the effects of cannabis abuse. Meanwhile, evidence of the link between cannabis use and mental-health problems, notably triggering the onset of schizophrenia, is now incontrovertible.
In the face of this mounting evidence, it is disappointing to find David Blunkett, former Home Secretary, still maintaining doggedly that his decision to downgrade cannabis to a class C drug was the right one. In an interview in this paper, he declares that any change of direction risked wasting police time on pursuing casual users of the drug.
But a few years ago we knew much less about the effects of the drug and cannabis was itself far weaker. His prescription, for reclassification to be limited to skunk rather than normal-strength cannabis, risks creating far more confusion. The prime minister’s instinct on this matter is sound but he must ensure that reclassification takes effect as soon as possible so that the law reflects the science.
This Comment was published in the Evening Standard 11 January 2008