Rosie Cowan
Friday May 20, 2005
The Guardian,8150,1488170,00.html

Cannabis should not be upgraded again, and if it is, fixed penalty fines should be issued for the possession of small amounts, Britain’s top policeman said yesterday.

Sir Ian Blair, the Scotland Yard commissioner, said it was a waste of his officers’ time spending hours dealing with possession offences when prosecutors and courts did not act on them.

If the government reverses the downgrading of the drug, as it is currently considering, then he would push hard for fixed penalty notices, although he refused to be drawn on what he considered an appropriate fine.

David Blunkett reclassified cannabis from Class B to Class C in January last year. While possession is still illegal, those caught with small amounts are not normally arrested, but have the drug confiscated and receive a formal warning.

But his successor, Charles Clarke, has asked the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs to investigate whether cannabis use contributes to long-term mental health problems.

Mr Clarke is also considering whether stronger “skunk” varieties of the drug should carry more severe penalties. However, Sir Ian argued that such a move would be “impractical”.,8150,1488170,00.html