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back to article Lords told to listen to science on cannabis

A group of scientists has urged the House of Lords to listen to scientific advice rather than the ranting of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and reject her proposal to change the classification of cannabis from C to B. In a letter to the Guardian, eight leading scientists call on the Lords to back an amendment tabled by Baroness …

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Listen to reason? This government?

Nah, they'd much rather listen to the hysterical rantings of the right-wing press.

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Happy

Policy

"Even more importantly, the move would be a sad departure from the welcome trend - established after the Phillips report into the BSE disaster - of public policy following expert scientific advice unless there is new evidence."

What public policy decided by experts who know what they are talking about and not government spin doctors?? I for one wont stand for it!!

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Go

Wacky-Jackie Smith

That's how her name is stored on my database, it can never be changed, not even with a stern letter. I'd love to see journalists misspell her name and refuse to correct it.

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Black Helicopters

Whacky Jaqui

Still won't listen. She doesn't do reason, we all know that.

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So....

The governement lowers the classification of cannabis. Useage goes down. Also further research into the drug is published and indicates that it is if anything even less harmful than originally believed. As a result the government wants to raise the classification again.

I think the police should get down to the house of commons with some of those 'drug swab thingies', as I for one would like to know exactly what they are on!

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Black Helicopters

Whats the fuss

Legalise it, tax it. Whats wrong with that?

Its not going to be more destructive to the general population than cigarettes and alcohol surely

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Coat

The green stuff

There is always a selection of cannabis articles on el reg, is there something we should know guys?

Mines the one with the pipe...

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IT Angle

If they listened to scientific advice

Half the illegal substances would be legalised, tobacco would be banned immediately and UK faith schools would be prohibited from teaching creationism as scientific.

Never gonna happen though.

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Go

Lords told to follow common sense

Hoorah!

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Linux

If only..........

We could see a name change from Wacki Jacqui to Sacki Jacqui then common sense may just be restored to the Home Office, but sadly I doubt it as much as I believe one day Microsoft will produce a DRM free, resource light, secure, malware free OS worth paying for.

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Coat

FFS Jacqui!

You can lay off the pies without having to give up the dope habit you know. Just takes a bit of extra willpower.

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Paris Hilton

About time

That someone with some sense and understanding was proposing government policy. The whole story about Cannabis being linked to mental health was a joke. sure, there may have been some increase in the likelihood but it was such a negligible increase from such a negligible starting point (1000's to 1) that it was a clear case of government propaganda from the get-go.

I for one will be lighting the bong tonight in celebration that someone in this damn country has some common sense!

Paris 'cos she can suck on my bong anytime!

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Anonymous Coward

As such

"Cannabis use has fallen significantly across all age ranges and this is a testament to the success of the previous ten year Drug Strategy. However, the reduction in cannabis use must not be allowed to reverse."

So we (Smithites and NuGov) will make it more illegal and there fore more edgy and cool as opposed to that drug your parents smoked back in the old days. Becouse we don't have a clue how to do anything and can often be cought trying to bite our own ears.

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How refreshing.

A drop of sanity in an ocean of overspun political dogma.

Heaven forbid we should listen to the experts. Remember: never let the truth get in the way of a good peice of legislation.

Let hope the Lords have their collective backbone with them on the day they vote.

The cannabis debated ceased to be about health or happyness long ago, it's a wedge issue (an issue you can use to split a majority into easy to classify parts) like abortion/gay rights in the US.

This makes it an invaluable political tool, and the idea of letting common sense/well funded research play a part in the decicions is just ludicrous.

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Boffin

Eh?

Much though the reclassification of cannabis from class C to class B is a terrible idea for a whole host of reasons, the first reason quoted in the article seems a little odd. Are they seriously suggesting that downgrading cannabis to class C in 2004 was directly responsible for a reduction in cannabis use? I must be missing something here. Did a whole bunch of cannabis users suddenly turn around and decide it's not worth bothering with now it's not so naughty any more?

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Anonymous Coward

.....this is your brain on politics.

Prohibition of psychoactive substances will always be done on more than the science. Previous bans on alcohol in the US and UK have been done on a moral basis, the effect on the lower classes always being the most important factor. Any science was quoted selectively to support a position already taken. Governments will always have the social, economic and international aspects to consider (try legalising Cocaine or Heroin in the UK and see how quickly the US government phones up).

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News at Ten - Bong . . .

As Ms Smith's cabinet colleague pointed out yesterday, we're all off to the workhouse (would have been but the builders have gone bust). In troubled times I suspect that Auntie Jacqui wants us all to trundle off to the pub and pop up the taxman. Rather than drowning our sorrows in ale and gin some may prefer to stay at home and get stoned for the next few years.

Unfortunatley Smith says she is listening to the countries fears yet she appears to be one of the few stirring up the shit. The only thing she can hear is 'La La La I can't hear you' as she wanders about with her fingers in her ears.

Surely governments threw off the shackles of the booze industry's influence years ago - it's what caused the bloody problem in the first place.

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Coat

Use has fallen...

Damn right it has fallen. Since having kids i have barely had a spliff except for an evening with my brother earlier this year while on a business trip when we got happily stoned and we ordered a chinese and played on the computer half the night.

Dangerous stuff eh? Not like that nice alcohol that everyone behaves perfectly on and is legal.

Most dangerous/harmful thing i did while being stoned was upon having an attack of the munchies late at night contemplating eating some suspicious looking food in the fridge... in the end took a paranoid 10 minute walk to the nearest 24-hour shop to collect supplies all the time thinking "Try not to look stoned, try not to look stoned"... and then upon handing money over for my purchases noticing a big black stain from the cannabis resin on my index finger.... girl serving me said, "Having a nice smoke?" with a big smile on her face.... sure i had bought a pack of Rizzla as well which could have tipped her off.

Mines the one with an ounce in the pocket.

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Coat

FAQui

What exaqui does whacky Jacqui have agaist the whacky backy?

She needs to check the faqui

Its useage has been dropping backy

She must be smoking cracky

And should be given the saqui

Mine's the brown maqui with the hashy stashy in the bacqui

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@James

Wacky-Baccy Smith.

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Happy

Technique

I don't think the Lords should listen to science on cannabis. They would get way too high.

No. a nice cup of tea would do.

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Leading Scientists?

Who are they and what field are they experts in?

An astrophysicist can be considered a leading scientist, but his opinion wouldbe no more relevent on this issue than anyone elses.

Stop abusing the word 'scientist'. They're not all nerdy boffin genuises who have experience in every scientific discipline known to man, you know.

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Black Helicopters

But maybe:

this is all just a cunning ploy to kick start the economy.

think about it, by raising to a class B, by there logic, MORE people will smoke.

therefore there will be more grown, and in turn will be helping the poor.

there you go,

as there could not be anything in the budget about it this as it is 'illegal',

so this is a subtle way of keeping the bored + unemployed quite,

(reverse psycoligy is the oldest ploy in the book afterall)

god im good....

(That almost looks like a blank cannibis leaf.... ish)

but heads down, i think the gov' might be after me now.....

aaaaaagh..! they have found me.... run run run..!

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Anonymous Coward

Cannabis usage has fallen?

What study showed that up? In my personal experience cannabis use has been rising ever since it was dowgraded to a Class C. Most of my friends smoke it at least once a week and every day I see people smoking it openly in the streets.

How on Earth can this be the result of a decrease in usage?

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Unhappy

@Jerome

"Are they seriously suggesting that downgrading cannabis to class C in 2004 was directly responsible for a reduction in cannabis use?"

I reckon it;s more to do with Labour's earlier activity on making students pay for university and move everything to loans rather than grants - they're all working two jobs trying to do well in their courses now rather than lying around smoking weed all day.

Ah, the good old days...

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Anonymous Coward

Wacky Baccy Jaqui

Hopefully the Lords can block ZaNuLabourPF's stupidity.

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Go

Informed debate here

If you are interested in this subject and are looking for an informed argument for a fundamental rethink of all drug policy please follow this link:

www.tdpf.org.uk/

no IT angle though...

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@jerome

I agree. But how do they get these 'usage' statistics anyway - could it be some kind of extrapolation from number of arrests for possession? In which case it's a self-fullfilling prophesy.

Reminds me of the 'business confidence' or 'happiness' statistics (?) How the hell do they measure those? (i've seen graphs - so they must be real science)

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Coat

use is dropping

so the kingpins that control it think it'll sell better if it's re-rated as a Class B substance.

They're politically well connected I'm certain, so off they go to lobby their favorite MP or Congress Critter to fix their bottom line. Wish I could fix my bottom line that easily.

Mine's the one next to the one with the tin foil hat.

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Unhappy

Hypocrisy

Jacqui "It was fine for me to try it when I was young but I want you to go to jail, scumbag" Smith MP.

Reason doesn't enter into it folks.

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Happy

Drop in use

Which Radio4 newreader was it who commented on a news story about Vietmanese gangs not growing dope within the M25 because of high property prices with "Whats the world coming to when an Englishman can't grow cannibis in his own home?"

Consumption may also be down because the price has been driven up by energy rates... indoor grow systems use a lot of electricity, so some growers are finding things uneconomical. In this age of capping Carbon Emissions, legalisation or decriminalisation would allow it to be grow in more environmentally-friendly greenhouses.

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Reduction in usage

Is more likely connected to the raising of the legal age for smoking in general. If you smoke from an early age, I would say you're more likely to smoke cannabis, if offered, than someone who doesn't smoke at all. Once you've crossed that moral white line in the sand (so to speak), one drug is the same as any other and you're not going to think twice about doing other recreationals such as cocaine, speed etc which could then lead to Heroine if you've got a particularly addicitive personality and dependency issues.

The answer is to ban smoking completely. Kids will find it more difficult to take it up and won't feel tempted to move onto "training drugs" like cannabis. The next generation will benefit the most, this generation is f*cked.

All in my humble opinion of course

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Flame

Reclassifying lowers usage

Mebbe we should do the same for crack & heroin...

Yes I know, alcohol and tobacco are worse. So what?

As for commons sense, we are talking about the government which made the precise manner in which foxes are killed a constitutional "crisis".

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Democracy, who needs it.

Why settle for someone who pretends to be elected officially but was actually given the job by his friends, when you've got a group of people who just accept that they've given the job by their friends and don't care. The benefit being, the former is out to keep said job, and make himself look good, whereas the latter just votes with their own, more experienced conscience.

Hopefully they listen to reason on this.

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Anonymous Coward

@Use has fallen...

Lol surest give away ever king size blues and a ten deck.

Man I loved those times, several nice local dealers, gear was cheap, fags were cheap and rizzla was almost free. Hell you even had gratis points to make a roach from, ahhh what heady days. I remember stood out back of the coal sheds trying to sheild my mate who was skinning up from the wind. Ahh well those were the days.

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@Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 25th November 2008 11:49 GMT

try legalising Cocaine or Heroin in the UK and see how quickly the US government phones up).

We could threaten to do this, as I'm sure those nice Americans would rather see our National debt reduced than us legalising Cocaine or Heroin.

I wonder how much it's worth to them for us to keep these drugs illegal.

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Tim
IT Angle

Isn't it funny!

When cannabis is seen to be less harmful it becomes less popular!

Perhaps we should announce the healthy benefits of other drugs, like cigarettes, cocaine, meth... ad nauseum

Oh and IT angle??? Anyone? Anyone?

IT angle????

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@ Hypocrisy

I'll extrapolate that and turn it into:

"A reformed and rehabilitated rapist, born-again Christian, starts an anti-rape campaign."

Given your logic, this is unreasonable seeing as rape was good enough for him when he was younger.

Ooops.

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@ Jerome

Ironically, enough, yes.

I remember reading a report some time ago that the "naughtiness facter" of any given drug does indeed have quite an impact on it's alure.

Take the propoganda war instigated by Edward Bernays on behalf of the tobacco industry. In the 1930s, it was still a social taboo for women to smoke, So to subverse this trend, Edward hired a group of models, and instructed them to discretely join a suffragette march. On a secret signal they would all pull out a pack of ciggarettes and light them up.

Prior to this, Edward had called most of the press alerting them to this 'protest', and had already given them the slogan "Torches of freedom".

Lo, and behold, a dramatic change in the way women perceived ciggarettes now, as devices for social rebellion.

Put it simply, it's reverse psychology. Tell someone they can't do something, and they'll want to do it all the more. Make anything a taboo, and suddenly people will want to do it. This is why cencership is a prime cause for perversion. You only need to look at the victorians or the japanese for examples (the panty fetish is a direct result of the strict censorship laws governing what can and can't be shown)

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@Dave

Here in the real world, we bypass the meter for our growlights.

Property prices are a bugger, though - that's why it's still over a hundred quid for an ounce.

The real issue is the principle, though - there is no good reason for cannabis being illegal, and it's a diabolical infringement on my personal liberty.

Neues Arbeit - welcome to the 4th Reich!

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Coat

@this

perhaps there's a correlation between the sale of cheesy doritos and long silver rizzla's from 24hour petrol stations and cannabis use.... ;)

Mines the jacket with the ... wait... i'm sure i bought picked up some skins from ESSO...

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here hear

EdwardP: "Let hope the Lords have their collective backbone with them on the day they vote."

Yup, but first they have to be awake and have their hearing aids turned on when the evidence is presented.

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@Reduction in usage

Your humble opinion isn't worth the paper it was printed on.

Most cannibis users I've ever met (a lot) start smoking weed first and move on to cigarettes later, when weed gets hard to find/expensive/whatever.

It's not a moral white line in the sand, it's a psychological line created by broken laws and propaganda. If cannibis is demonised to the same extent as, say, crystal meth, is it any wonder that once someone's tried it and realised that they've been lied to by politicians, teachers and parents from the start that they'll try other things that they've heard exactly the same lies about?

When they find out that weed doesn't leave them feeling crap the next day, doesn't involve getting into fights or doing embarassing stuff, is pretty relaxing and far cheaper than the pub, what's to stop them investigating everything else they've been told is bad and wrong?

What we need is evidence based law, quality control and real information.

The flame icon is there because your implication that the use of any illegal substance is some sort of moral failure is offensive.

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Black Helicopters

@Drop in use

Dave, electricity pricing has no impact. Growers don't hook up to the grid as a massive spike in energy usage (along with midnight deliveries of fertiliser, blacked out windows and an infrared footprint easily visible from police helicopters) is an indicator of an indoor growing setup. They either steal electricity from a neighbour or connect themselves to the nearest lamppost/junction box. If you're growing plants with a street value of hundreds of thousands of pounds (or millions, according to the Daily Fail) and risk a 15-20 year stretch if caught, the last thing you give a shit about is paying the leccy bill.

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Unhappy

legality

Alcohol = drunk by most if not all politicians and politicos = legal

Dope = consumed by 'young' people and those generally not inclined to vote for you = illegal

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Joke

Please! Won't someone think of the children!

Scene: At the despatch box in the House of Commons.

Wacky Jacqui (knocking on the box) "Hey! Dave!"

Tory bench: "Dave's not here man."

<sigh>

wibble

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Happy

@Kieron McCann

Win*1000. My monitor has been sprayed with tesco value energy drink, and my co-workers are giving me funny looks as I wipe it off :)

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This post has been deleted by its author

@ Which Scientists?

Excellent point - here's the list of notables putting their name to this:

* Dr Evan Harris MP Lib Dem science spokesman

* David King Former government chief scientific adviser

* Professor Michael Rawlins Chair, ACMD 1998-2008

* (Lord) Robert May Former government chief scientific adviser

* Phil Willis MP Chair, Science select committee

* Professor Gabriel Horne Chair, Academy of Medical Science working group on addiction,

Professor Colin Blakemore Member, UK Drug Policy Commission; former director, Medical Research Council

* Tracey Brown Director, Sense about Science

* Dr Leslie King Member, ACMD

* Ruth Runciman Former member, ACMD

* Prof Ian Gilmore, President, Royal College of Physicians and member, Academy of Medical Sciences Working Group on Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs

* Prof. Roger Brownsword, Professor of Law at King's College London and member, Academy of Medical Sciences Working Group on Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs

* Prof Bill Deakin, Professor of Psychiatry, Manchester University and member, Academy of Medical Sciences Working Group on Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs

* Prof Trevor Robbins, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, member, Academy of Medical Sciences Working Group on Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs

I'm slightly miffed El Reg's resident computer-scientist-cum-global-warming expert isn't on the list - perhaps he has an opinion on this topic too?

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The Office.

When John Reid took over the Home Office he famously described the department as '"not fit for purpose". Now we have a Home Secretary who is neither fit for purpose nor capable of producing any valid evidence to support her ludicrous proposals.

Despite evidence and advice from experienced senior police chiefs, ex-government law officers and former security service chiefs she pressed ahead with her plan to extend detention without charge from 28 to 42 days based solely on her conviction that she was right and they were wrong. Result: humiliating defeat in the House of Lords.

More recently she has proposed an Orwellian uberdatabase that would be continuously trawled seeking to establish suspicious communication links between individuals in a population of 60 million. Once you throw the billions of spam messages that are automatically generated daily into this melting pot the number of false-positives created would soon overwhelm even GCHQ. Technically unfeasible and politically unsustainable as recent events have shown by the project being kicked into the long grass. Humiliated again.

Undaunted by her defeats at the hands of the those who know better, she ploughs on into another evidence-free zone where images containing sexual content will corrupt the viewer to such an extent that he - it's always a man - will immediately rampage through the streets, assaulting and raping innocent maidens. And no, Mr Smartass, you can't just engage with one of those ladies of the night to work off your sexual urges because you will be charged with people-trafficking for the purpose of prostitution. No defence allowed, you've got testicles.

Since when has being a man-hating ignoramus been seen as a qualification for high ministerial office in this country?

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