Jack Straw: We Made a Mistake

Well, yes you did Jackie Laddie:

The Justice Minister, Jack Straw, became the most senior Labour minister last night to speak out against the decriminalisation of cannabis.

He told Channel Four News that he was against downgrading it to a class C drug.

"I was always against it, let me say, I can disclose this now, reducing the categorisation of cannabis from B to C, I thought that was an error," he said.

The only sensible or moral thing anyone could do with this, as with other drugs, is some form of controlled legalization. There\’s that moral point, which is that the only justification for limiting a person\’s freedom is to limit harm to others: harm to him is not such a justification. Sensible comes in because the harms that are caused by drugs are, if not solely caused by their illegality, most certainly amplified by it. But  Jack says he wants to put cannabis back up to a Class B drug, with a possible 5 year jail sentence for possession. Why?

"Why I want to upgrade cannabis and make it more a drug that people worry about is that we don\’t want to send out a message – just like with alcohol – to teenagers that we accept these things."

It\’s certainly an interesting message to send to teenagers: we\’re blithering idiots with no concept of freedom or liberty and we\’ll make law according to ill found prejudice, not any cost benefit analysis nor attention to facts.

As I\’ve pointed out earlier, the recorded rise in psychosis from the stronger versions of cannabis (and there\’s a great deal of doubt about whether this figure is well founded, but it is the one everyone is using) is some 450 cases a year. Depending upon who you believe there are some 2-8 million regular cannabis users in the country. So upgrading to Class B is in effect threatening 20 million man years of jail time to prevent 450 cases a year of psychosis. It is to laugh.

3 comments on “Jack Straw: We Made a Mistake

  1. Hear hear! Although you actually pull a punch in the last line – it is threatening 20 million man years in jail for 450 cases of psychosis a year that people have brought upon themselves.

    Drugs laws in this country, and pretty much all the western world, are the most bizarrely indefensible of all stupid laws that exist – and that is a hell of a lot.

  2. The damage that re-classification of cannabis caused at the time of de-classification was that, under the legislation then pertaining, possession of cannabis was no longer an arrestable offence. This led to a perception that police wouldn’t take action, based in no small part on the guidance given to officers by the Home Office pointing out that it was no longer an arrestable offence.

    Move on to the current situation, in which all offences – no matter how trivial – are now arrestable, (for the efficient and effective investigation of the offence, i.e. it’s more convienient to the police), and re-classification makes no difference whatsoever. The vast majority of cannabis cases are dealt with by way of informal caution, i.e. confiscation and a bollocking – properly documented of course, and re-classification won’t affect that in any way.

    This is an example of ‘Security Theatre.’ An empty show that has no effect upon the real world, like parking a tank at the front door of Heathrow.

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