Thursday, May 08, 2008

I Am Not A Stoner

But if I was, I think I would be more than a little angry at the Government. Firstly, they have decided to completely ignore a report into the effects of cannabis that they themselves commissioned, and reclassify cannabis as Class B. The opening paragraph of the report reads:
Dear Home Secretary In July 2007 you asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to review the classification of cannabis in the light of real public concern about the potential mental health effects of cannabis use and, in particular, the use of stronger strains of the drug. I have pleasure in enclosing the Council’s report. You will note that, after a most careful scrutiny of the totality of the available evidence, the majority of the Council’s members consider – based on its harmfulness to individuals and society – that cannabis should remain a Class C substance. It is judged that the harmfulness of cannabis more closely equates with other Class C substances than with those currently classified as Class B.

As Tim Worstall quite rightly points out in the article I mention below, "There doesn't seem to be much point in reading any more of that report, nor paying attention to it - since, obviously, no other fucker has either."

Funnily enough there's not been so much reporting of the other stats mentioned in the report. Except for this wonderful article in The Register. Yes, the IT crowd's favourite read (possibly bar Slashdot) and generally only interested in all things geek. They have, over the past couple of years, been increasing the politics angle (mainly related to issues of security lapses, privacy and ID cards), but this seems a step into a different area.

The article is quite compelling, with some lovely use of statistics. Like the fact cannabis use has fallen over the past ten years, the number of people admitted with schizophrenia has also fallen, and that the oft quoted stat that today's cannabis is 20 times stronger than that of 20 years ago is just plain wrong.

The second page of the article, however, has some worrying information.
Police will be able to seize high-value assets from suspected drug dealers as soon as they are arrested under plans to be unveiled this week by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary.

As Worstal says, "Yes, they'll take your house, your cars, your bank accounts, anything with a realisable value, at the moment of your arrest. No court case necessary at all, simply forfeiture to the State on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. Even better, they won't leave you with enough money to hire a lawyer to defend yourself on those drugs charges"
More than 30 barristers from London, Leeds and Sheffield were approached to represent the offender, but refused because they felt the new fixed-rate legal aid fees of £175.25 per day does not justify the complex workload that would be involved. The case would have involved 6,586 pages of documents and a total of 4,548 transactions to prepare for an estimated six-week hearing. The offender, who has served a nine-month sentence for two drugs convictions, could not pay for the legal fees himself because his assets had been frozen.

Worstall continues: "That pretty much puts paid to the idea of innocent until proven guilty, the right to a fair trial and all the rest of that gubbins that our forefathers fought and died for, doesn't it? That's what I'm worried about, the leeching away of the very things that make us a free country in the face of this mass hysteria. It's decades since I last felt the urge to indulge beyond alcohol and nicotine, so the specifics of the drugs laws are an academic issue for me. But the abandonment of even the pretence of a fair trial should worry you as much as it does me."

I am the Revolution, and I want my fucking country back.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great closing line. We just need everyone to yell it out of their windows a la the film "Network".


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