PM and drugs advisors at odds over cannabis laws

The Prime Minister has hinted that he wants tougher cannabis laws, but Government advisors are reported to favour the status quo.

On Tuesday Mr Brown said he was awaiting the report of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) but said he favoured tightening the law.

However, the BBC has today reported that the council favours keeping the law unchanged. The BBC’s home affairs correspondent, Danny Shaw, says the decision was taken at a private meeting of the council.

The council’s chairman Professor Sir Michael Rawlins refused to confirm or deny a decision. A report is expected to be sent to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith later this month.

Cannabis was downgraded from Class B to Class C in 2004 by then Home Secretary David Blunkett. Since then, mounting evidence of soaring cannabis use and strong links with mental illness has fuelled calls for reclassification.

Mr Brown said: “My personal view has been pretty well known for some time… given the changing nature of the stock of cannabis that is coming into the country and the greater damage that that appears to be doing to people who use it, there is a stronger case even now for sending out a signal that cannabis is not only illegal but it is unacceptable.”

A study lasting 27 years involving 50,000 people showed that smoking cannabis trebles the risk of a young person developing schizophrenia.

Cannabis-related admissions to mental hospitals have risen by 85% since Labour came to power according to Government figures.

There are now more than 22,000 people a year, almost half under the age of 18, being treated for cannabis addiction. In 1997 the number was 1,600.