Pubdate: Fri, 20 May 2005
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2005 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Nick Davies


You could hardly wish for a clearer example of the complete muddle that 
underlies government drugs policy than the home secretary's latest 
contribution (Skunk cannabis may be reclassified, May 19). Charles Clarke 
wants the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs to consider harsher 
penalties for the new and more powerful strains of marijuana because of 
their alleged implication in mental illness.

As long as the government insists on keeping these drugs illegal, their 
production and distribution is handed over to the black market where the 
consumer has no way of knowing the strength of the drugs that are on sale. 
All black-market buyers are blind, because there is no testing, no 
monitoring, no labelling. Would the home secretary approve of pubs selling 
alcohol in masked bottles, so that drinkers could not tell whether they 
were buying alcohol-free beer or real ale? Why not strip the labels off 
medicine packets, while he is about it.

If there really is evidence that the new strains of marijuana carry new 
dangers, it is more important than ever that the entire market is made 
legal, so that the 3.2 million people in this country who use it have some 
chance of knowing what they are smoking. Clarke's idea can only increase 
any risk to health.

Nick Davies,  London
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