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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

March 19, 2005: Changing Cannabis Classification?

Home Secretary Charles Clarke has written to the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The AMCD has been asked by the Home Secretary to reassess its position on the classification of cannabis and provide advice on the claims of greater prevalence of increased strength cannabis. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is a statutory and non-executive nondepartmental public body, which is established under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.Cannabis and cannabis resin together with cannabinol and its derivatives were reclassified as Class C drugs in January 2004.

Charles Clarke’s letter, addressed to AMCD Chair Professor Sir Michael Rawlins of the University of Newcastle’s Wolfson Unit of Clinical Pharmacology, reads as follows:

"In 2001, my predecessor David Blunkett commissioned the Advisory Council to provide a report on the classification of cannabis. The subsequent publication of March 2002 ‘The classification of cannabis under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971’ recommended that cannabis should be reclassified to a Class C drug from Class B. The Government was content to accept that recommendation and in January 2004 the necessary legal changes were made with the full backing of the Association of Chief Police Officers."

"Since then there is no indication from either the British Crime Survey or the more recent Schools Survey by the Department of Health that use of cannabis has increased. However, there have been several studies produced since the decision to reclassify cannabis was taken."

"I am thinking in particular of the longitudinal studies into links and associations between taking cannabis and developing mental problems. The Ferguson study (New Zealand 2004) considered how regular cannabis use increased the risk of developing psychotic symptoms later in life. Professor van Os more recent paper (Maastrict University 2004) concluded "Cannabis use moderately increases the risk of psychotic symptoms in young people but has a much stronger effect in those with evidence of predisposition for psychosis.""

"I realise that ACMD keeps a close interest in these studies and continue to monitor all the relevant evidence on the effects of cannabis. I want to be clear what influence the evidence presented within these studies has on the overall assessment of the classification of cannabis. I think there is merit in the Advisory Council assessing whether their position is at all changed by the emerging evidence."

"I would also welcome advice on claims of increased prevalence of cannabis with high levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Typically these are grown hydroponically and are known as ‘skunk’ varieties of cannabis. I am aware the Dutch Government are taking a particular interest in very high strength strains and are considering whether cannabis above a certain strength should be a higher classification."

"I am grateful for the advice that the ACMD provide on these and other drug issues and look forward to your response."