Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Met Chief Attacks New Letup on Cannabis Use

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Met Chief Attacks New Letup on Cannabis Use

Article excerpt

Byline: BEN LEAPMAN

SCOTLAND YARD today poured scorn on a government plan to let cannabis users carry large amounts of the drug without facing arrest.

The criticism from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair threatened to torpedo the proposal, floated in a Home Office consultation document last week.

Ministers suggested that anyone caught with up to 17 ounces of herbal cannabis or four ounces of resin - enough for 2,500 joints - should be treated as a user rather than a dealer. They would have the drug confiscated and be given an informal warning, but would not face arrest or charge.

Under the proposal, up to 7g of heroin or crack cocaine, or 10 ecstasy tablets, would also be considered as being for personal use.

But Sir Ian called the amounts "surprising" and said his force would talk to Home Office officials in a bid to have them reduced significantly. He told a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority today: "We have already made clear to the Home Office that we are surprised by the amounts being discussed.

"It's a great deal higher than we expected. We need to negotiate that figure a long way down."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is opposed to the setting of a fixed limit, for fear that dealers would carry just less than the threshold amount in order to evade the law.

The Home Office had hoped that its move would make it easier for police and the courts to distinguish between pushers and ordinary drug users. If the policy came into effect, people caught with more than the threshold amounts would face the more serious charge of possession with intent to supply.

The ACPO's drugs committee will meet to reconsider its stance before the organisation gives its formal response to the Home Office consultation.

But today's public rejection by Britain's most senior police officer will strengthen the hand of senior officers in other forces who oppose the idea. …

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