Police Foundation Concerning|
Reform of Marijuana Laws
Our conclusion is that the present law on cannabis produces more harm
than it prevents. It is very expensive of the time and resources of the criminal
justice system and especially of the police. It inevitably bears more heavily on
young people in the streets of inner cities, who are also more likely to be from
minority ethnic communities, and as such is inimical to police-community
relations. It criminalizes large numbers of otherwise law-abiding, mainly young,
people to the detriment of their futures. It has become a proxy for the control
of public order; and it inhibits accurate education about the relative risks of
different drugs including the risks of cannabis itself. Weighing these costs
against the harms of cannabis, we are convinced that a better balance is
needed and would be achieved if our recommendations were implemented.
Under our proposals, the normal sanctions for offenses of cannabis possession
and cultivation for personal use would be out-of-court disposals, including
informal warnings, statutory cautions or a fixed fine on the model of the Scottish
fiscal fine. Prosecution would be the exception, and only then would a conviction
result in a criminal record. We understand that if the sanctions for cannabis
possession and cultivation, both in the law and its enforcement, were to be
substantially reduced there would be a risk that more people would use it. But
the international evidence does not suggest that this is inevitable or even likely.
Given the current widespread availability and use of cannabis, we judge that
more would be gained in terms of credibility, respect for the law and the police,
and accurate education messages than would be lost in potential damage to
public and individual health by the control regime which we recommend. We
also believe that our proposed regime would promote the targeting of
enforcement resources on those drugs and activities which cause the greatest
harm in line with the objectives of the national strategy. It would also accord
with public perceptions of where policing priorities should lie.
|Can We Learn From Others?|
|For more information visit: www.csdp.org.|
Common Sense for Drug Policy Kevin B. Zeese President
703-354-9050, 703-354-5695 (fax),
"Drugs and the Law: Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971."
The Police Foundation, Chairman: Viscountess Runciman DBE, April 4, 2000. The Police Foundation, based in London
England, is a non-profit organization that promotes research, debate and publication to improve the efficiency
and effectiveness of policing in the UK.
Copyright © 2001-2010,
Common Sense for Drug Policy
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