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12th October 2022

Could weed be made a Class A drug?

Smoking a joint could land you the same number of years in prison as being caught with cocaine, as weed set to become Class A drug
Could weed be made a Class A drug?
Photo: Elsa Olofsson @ Flickr

A group of Conservative Party police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have called for the reclassification of cannabis to a Class A drug at the recent Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

David Sidwick, PCC for Dorset, one of the people who brought forth the idea of cannabis reclassification, argues that cannabis is “driving harm” in communities, linking cannabis and the rise in crime in certain areas of the country.

Afron Jones, the previous North Wales Police Crime Commissioner, argued that the move would be “disjointed and draconian, and are not supported by any evidence”.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is alleged by allies to be on the “same side” as the PCCs who presented this motion at the party’s conference. According to the Home Office, however, there are no current plans to reclassify cannabis.

Cannabis is currently a Class B drug. It’s reclassification as a Class A drug would move it into the same drug category as heroin and cocaine. Those found in possession of Class A drugs can currently be sentenced up to seven years in prison, up from five years for Class B drugs, while those who are found to supply the drugs can be sentenced to lifetime imprisonment compared to 14 years.

A study published earlier this year by Release, who claim to be “the national centre of expertise on drugs and drug law in the UK”,  suggests that “cannabis offences are an entry point into the criminal justice system for many, and disproportionately … young, Black men”. Decriminalising marijuana, according to Release, would be more useful in reducing “harm” than more harshly classifying it.

Drug policy analysts, Steve Rolles and Niamh Eastwood, vehemently disagreed with Sidwick’s suggestion, telling The Telegraph that, “ramping up” penalties for using marijuana would be unsuccessful in attempting to curb its use because evidence shows that “punitive prohibitions … have spectacularly failed for over fifty years”.

Unjust UK, an anti-discrimination legal non-profit, took to Twitter to say that “evidence based policies need to be enacted” in order to really reduce the danger of drugs.

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