Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Jacqui Smith: my cannabis law change was wrong

Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith admits the change in the legal status of cannabis she introduced caused 'confusion and dissent'

The former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has admitted the change in the legal status of cannabis she introduced caused “confusion and dissent”.

The politician, who resigned from the Cabinet in the wake of the expenses scandal and then lost her seat in the 2010 election, was criticised at the time by her own scientific advisers when she upgraded the legal status of the drug from class C to class B in 2009 — bringing in a tougher line against users and dealers.

She told the Radio Times: “I'm more sympathetic now to the argument that there are people who use cannabis without harm. I don't want tough messages being sent out by the law always translated into tough action against individuals.”

Ms Smith, who will present a documentary on the issue on Radio 5 Live next week, added: “From the people I've talked to in this programme, I know that it (the reclassification) also caused confusion and dissent. Was that worth the positive impacts of the change in law that I introduced? I'm no longer sure it was.

“I don't believe in decriminalisation or legalisation. Education, treatment and information are perhaps a lot more effective,” she said.

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