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Vol. 343 ,
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On Weed, U.K. Government Ignores Scientific Advice
25 November 2008 2:16 pm
Today, the U.K. Parliament's House of Lords approved the government's proposal to reclassify cannabis as a dangerous Class B drug, along with amphetamines and speed, against the recommendations of its own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). Cannabis had been classified previously as a class C drug, one of those the government deems least likely to cause harm.
The vote prompted an angry reaction from high-profile members of the U.K. scientific community.
In a letter to the Guardian, the scientists wrote that "the ACMD clearly recommended—for the third time in the last six years—that cannabis remains a class C drug, and did so after examining all the available and latest evidence on short- and long-term health risks, as well as social harms, public attitudes and policing priorities.” The recommendations of the ACMD report, prepared at the request of the Home Office, argue against "greater criminalisation of possession," the letter says.
The scientists also warn about dangers to the drug classification system’s credibility: "Reclassification would send out an ambiguous message about the dangers of current class B drugs." Signatories of the letter include David King and Robert May, former government chief scientific advisers; Colin Blakemore, a member of the U.K. Drug Policy Commission and former director of the Medical Research Council; and Gabriel Horn, chair of the Academy of Medical Sciences Working Group on Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs.