Cannabis will be reclassified from a Class B to a Class C drug from January 29th 2004. Whilst some may mistakenly believe that this means that cannabis will now be legal, in fact it will not be decriminalised and it will remain classed as an illegal substance.
The decision to reclassify cannabis followed the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, a body of scientific and medical experts who advised that cannabis is harmful, but less harmful than other Class B drugs such as amphetamines.
After reclassification, most offences of cannabis possession by adults will result in a police warning and confiscation of the drug. There will be a presumption against arrest, except where public order is at risk or where children are vulnerable. The police will also ensure that those who repeatedly flout the law are arrested and dealt with. Young people under 18 who are found in possession of cannabis will receive a formal reprimand or warning at a police station. In addition, there will be an increase in the penalty for supply and dealing cannabis from 5 years to 14 years imprisonment.
Simon Ovens, Merton Borough Commander, said:
‘It remains illegal to posses cannabis and the penalties for dealing in
the drug have been increased. Those found dealing in cannabis by my
officers will be prosecuted.
In many cases people found in possession of a small amount of cannabis
for personal use will now have the cannabis seized and be dealt with by
way of warning. The exceptions to this rule will be those using the drug
in public, those using it repeatedly and where under 18s are caught with
the drug. All these people will be arrested.
The reclassification of cannabis will allow us to concentrate more time
and resources on Class A drugs, which is just what we will be doing.’
If you would like further information and advice on the reclassification of Cannabis, or any drug-related issue call FRANK on 0800 776600.