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Dope law is branded as useless’

PUBLISHED: 16:20 28 May 2008 | UPDATED: 09:47 23 August 2010

DRUG support experts say the government s decision to upgrade cannabis from a class C to B drug is a waste of time. Neil Hunt, director of research at KCA, a Kent drug and alcohol support organisation, said reclassification is pointless. Despite the Adv

DRUG support experts say the government's decision to upgrade cannabis from a class C to B drug is a waste of time.

Neil Hunt, director of research at KCA, a Kent drug and alcohol support organisation, said reclassification is pointless.

Despite the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs' (ACMD) advice to the contrary, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced the upgrade earlier this month.

Mr Hunt said: "The whole debate around cannabis reclassification has been a waste of time and resources and a diversion from far more important issues. For young people and those who implement the law this is a largely meaningless discussion. The only function of the re-classification is symbolic. Police are unlikely to change the way they police cannabis and young people will not change the way they use it. Politicians are trying to out-tough each other for the media. It is a lot of hot air and it is distracting from the real issues of intervention and meaningful action."

Eleanor Harris, Kent manager at Turning Point drug support group, said: "Although the political arguments over cannabis use are important, there is a risk that this debate will distract attention from the wider discussion to be had over how people can get the treatment they need."

In July last year the government asked the ACMD to review cannabis classification in the light of public concern particularly over stronger strains, or 'skunk'.

The report, released last month, says: "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."

But Jacqui Smith said there will be a new system of escalating penalties The Department of Health said escalating penalties for adults caught with small amounts of cannabis will be implemented from early next year.

A spokesperson said: "Our message has always been that cannabis is a harmful and illegal drug and should not be used. The government is tackling cannabis use through a comprehensive package of measures as part of our national Drug Strategy, including prevention, education, early intervention, enforcement and treatment."

lizzie.thornton@archant.co.uk

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