Parliamentary Questions & Debates

 

home

about

drug harm
comparison

improving
regulations

FAQs

document
summaries

news

links

 

23 July 1996: khat, gammahydroxybutyrate and "cake"- Sackville: "The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs considered the misuse of khat in 1988 and advised that there was no evidence of a social problem arising from its misuse in the United Kingdom such as to justify bringing the plant under the controls of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971".

3 Nov 1997: Volatile substances - Howarth: "The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs undertook a study into volatile substance abuse. They concluded that there were no acceptable legislative changes which would do more than the Act [Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985] already does to protect young people".

7 May 1998: Volatile substances - Hanson: "on average three young people will die each week from the abuse of solvents and volatile substances".

3 Dec 1998: Medicinal cannabis [Lords] - Earl of Carrik: "An editorial in the Lancet recently noted ... that "The desire to take mood altering substances is an enduring feature of human societies world-wide and even the most draconian legislation has failed to extinguish this desire ... and this should be borne in mind by social legislators". Either society is making a mockery of the law by disobedience on such a massive scale, or the law is making a mockery of society by criminalising over half a million people over the past 25 years". Summary

7 Dec 1999: Benzodiazepines - Woolas: "It is now an established fact in the medical profession that it takes only seven to 14 days for addiction to take hold of someone taking benzodiazepines. I remind hon. Members that MIND estimates that 1.2 million people are affected by addiction to benzodiazepines. In a recent Home Office pilot project undertaken in five locations throughout England, 61 per cent. of people arrested tested positive for drugs, one fifth of whom--12 per cent. of the total--tested positive for benzodiazepines, compared with only 10 per cent. for crack and cocaine combined and 8 per cent. for methadone".

10 April 2000: Alcohol debate - Flynn: "Does the Home Secretary agree that alcohol is the hardest of all hard drugs?" Straw: "Alcohol, when abused, can be a very hard drug, but, taken in moderation, people can enjoy it and it is part of society's culture. I do not to believe that there should be a competition for us to determine which drug does the greatest damage. Sadly, for some people in our society, class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine cause as much damage as alcohol abuse--much more, in some cases. We should produce a sensible and proportionate approach to all the drugs that can cause harm in our society".

12 April 2000: Law enforcement - Clarke: "For expert advice on the classification of controlled drugs, the Government rely on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. ... the illegality of some of the drugs that I have described limits use and deters many other people from using them. Furthermore, the main effect of decriminalisation or legalisation would be an increase in the consumption of drugs, which would be a bad thing for various reasons. The Government's policy on all legal and illegal drugs should be motivated by a desire to reduce use, whether we are talking about tobacco, alcohol or other drugs". Summary

24 May 2000 : GHB & EMCDDA risk assessment - Clarke: "The Government keep drug misuse patterns in this country under review. By statute, the responsibility for providing the expert advice that informs that process rests with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs".

23 Oct 2001: David Blunkett gives evidence to Home Affairs Committee's Government's Drugs Policy: Is it Working?: Chairman: "you did indicate a willingness to review the assumptions on which our drugs policy was based. Have you come to any conclusions?" Blunkett: "Yes, I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to clarify this for the purposes of ... the mature debate that I indicated in the early summer was necessary, actually to have a much clearer picture of what government policy will be towards some of the more controversial areas. I want to make it absolutely clear that the message from Government will be "Don't take drugs of any kind, they are dangerous and they will damage you."
Winnick: "Some would say that smoking, there is no dispute, is extremely dangerous, and we know the cost to the National Health Service as well, it is costing lives, but no one, to my knowledge, has suggested criminalising cigarette smoking, have they?" Blunkett: "No, they have not, for the very reason I am proposing to re-categorise cannabis, namely that public policy, the enforcement of the law and basic criminality, have to be in harmony with each other".
Summary

26 Oct 2001: Legalisation of Cannabis Bill - Owen Jones: "The damage done by continued illegality is great". Banks: " Given the impact on the health of individuals who use cannabis compared with that on the health of those who smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, there is no sense whatever in maintaining a law against the use of cannabis. We are now having a proper debate and the taboos are dropping away". Summary

30 Oct 2001: Home Office evidence to Home Affairs Committee's Government's Drugs Policy: Is it Working? - Killen: "...the Home Secretary said that decisions should be made based on the science and that should be kept under review". Chairman: "Why are alcohol and tobacco not integrated into the drugs strategy?" Jenkins: "Tobacco has an approach of its own. On alcohol, the NHS plan is committed to producing an alcohol strategy in 2004. So any strategy has to take account of that societal attitude".
Prosser: "What studies have the Home Office done to date on the possible effects of decriminalising drugs of all classes? ... So no study has been made at all ... So the answer is no". Hogg: "...we are signed up to a number of UN conventions. There is a caveat in that convention that requires states to criminalise possession, subject to constitutional principles and basic concepts of individual legal systems". Chairman: "We appear to be in denial here, do we not? There is a huge debate raging in the outside world on whether decriminalisation is or is not a good thing. ...you have not even addressed this, have you? Have you seen our terms of reference? Point two: what would be the effect of decriminalisation on (a) the availability of and demand for drugs (b) drug-related deaths and (c) crime? Does your evidence address that at all? Point three: is decriminalisation desirable and, if not, what are the practical alternatives? Do you think that is addressed?" Hellawell: "I know of no comprehensive study to look at the effects of decriminalisation of all drugs". Hogg: "we, certainly in my time, have not been asked to undertake any detailed study of the impact of decriminalisation". Killen: "Pre-1998 one of the problems there was that we did not have a systematic research programme on drugs and we have had to build that up". Summary

30 Oct 2001+: Appendix 1 Home Office evidence to Home Affairs Committee's Government's Drugs Policy: Is it Working? - "Advocates of legalisation suggest the following benefits: 1. Reduction in deaths and illness due to drugs sourced from the criminal market. 2. Reduction in crime - acquisitive crime to feed a drug habit and "turf wars" between suppliers. 3. Taxation revenues would benefit the Government not the criminals. Before looking at each hypothesis it is important to look at the impact on use. Even those who advocate legalisation recognise that there arguments are damaged if legalisation leads to a significant increase in use. Prohibition deters experimentation. 30 per cent of adults questioned by MORI for the Police Foundation Inquiry cited illegality as the main reason for not taking drugs. Perhaps more significant are the findings of the 1998-99 Youth Lifestyle survey. 64 per cent of respondents to this survey who had never taken cannabis before agreed with the statement "I do not take cannabis because it is against the law". Evidence suggests that the earlier young people are when they first experiment with drugs the more likely they are to develop problematic drug, so prohibition can also act as a deterrent for young people; Research undertaken by the Office for National Statistics in 1999 showed that 35 per cent of 15 year olds surveyed had taken a controlled drug at some time. But 61 per cent had tried tobacco and 84 per cent alcohol.
Government Regulation and Taxation: 1. Regulated markets do not eliminate illicit supplies (eg alcohol and tobacco smuggling); 2. regulation carries its own administrative and enforcement costs. Unless drugs were freely available to everyone, including children, it would not be possible to stop the black market operating at the margins of the regulated system; 3. taxation would certainly bring revenue to the Exchequer and this could be used to help offset the public health costs of increased use. But establishing the level of taxation would be difficult. Setting the price too high, would open the door for the illegal market. Setting it too low could feed that market. It is important to remember that the current street prices of drugs, which are in essence agricultural or semi-refined agricultural products reflect the illegality and the risks to the supplier. For example the Rand Institute in the United States has estimated that the street price of cocaine is more than 30 times its production cost. Decriminalisation: We have not carried out a detailed analysis of the effects of decriminalisation".

9 Nov 2001: cannabis reclassification debate - Opik: "what evidence do the Government have to show that confiscation and the prosecution of drugs suppliers have made any difference to the amount of drugs use in this country?" Ainsworth: "As the law to date has been so relatively ineffective, I doubt whether it has made much difference at all".
Ainsworth: "...if reclassification is warranted by an honest scientific assessment of the relative harms, it would enhance the credibility of our drugs laws as a whole, and it would help us to deliver our message on drugs to young people and better to align public policy and criminal justice practice".
Hawkins: "I do not think that there is much difference of view between the parties about the serious evil of those who supply drugs". Owen Jones: "The hon. Gentleman speaks about the evil of people selling cannabis, but ... did it ever cross his mind that there was an enormous hypocrisy in the law that categorised those people as deserving 14 years in jail, while someone who sold tobacco, which kills huge numbers of people, got, if he was successful, a peerage or a Queen's award for industry?" Hawkins: "I do not accept for one moment his totally fallacious assertions". Lloyd: "If we view legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco as being all right, and all illegal drugs as being bad, we make a profound mistake about the damage that drugs do to society. Our drugs laws have criminalised a huge section of society".
King: "Which drugs harm us most? Every year in Britain, 10 people die from taking ecstasy and 2,100 from taking other illegal drugs; 30,000 die from alcohol use; and 120,000 die from smoking. No one in Britain has ever died from taking cannabis. Lilley: "All that increases the contempt for the law felt especially by young people, who see the differential treatment of cannabis, alcohol and nicotine as essentially hypocritical and demeaning. I believe that the state should intervene only when an activity does clear social damage, when there is widespread support for trying to prevent that activity by law and when the law can achieve some practical purpose. None of those three is true in the case of cannabis". Wishart: "many are irritated by what they see as the hypocrisy at the heart of our debate. We are prepared to legislate and launch campaigns on illegal drugs, but are not prepared to deal with the much more serious problems caused by alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency". Prisk: "we should address the hypocrisy—as it seems to most young people—of the way in which we deal with alcohol, prescribed drugs, tobacco and cannabis. We must also ensure that any drugs strategy is founded firmly on a balance between an informed freedom of choice for adults and the promotion of personal responsibility". Summary

15 Nov 2001: Lords Ecstasy analogs

12 Feb 2002: Ainsworth's evidence to Home Affairs Committee - Cameron: "Has the Home Office done, or do you intend to do, any studies looking at the benefits and disbenefits of legalising some or all drugs?" Ainsworth: "There have been some attempts to scope the issues but it would be very difficult to actually pin down the whole costs of such a move of policy. That is really a matter for ministers rather than for officials. Cameron: "what would you say is the reason not to legalise cannabis?". Ainsworth: "that we risk an increase with regard to use and availability if we do that". "there are health problems taking cannabis both in the short-term as well as potential long-term health problems. There is not enough research done on that as of yet. That is the reason for us continuing to believe that cannabis should remain an illegal substance". "there are people who have managed to use heroin for a period of time and yet maintain a stable lifestyle and not fall into addiction to the extent where it begins to be a massive problem with their lives". Summary

19 Mar 2002: Education - Rendel: "Certainly, the legalisation of cannabis—if it takes place—is one way in which some of the problems associated with our young people could be reduced. ... a lot of the problems associated with drugs stem from the fact that we treat alcohol and tobacco—comparatively dangerous drugs—in an entirely different way from cannabis, which is less dangerous".

29 Apr 2002: Tobacco advertising - Harris: "Between 1971 and 1996, tobacco consumption fell by more than 37 per cent. and prevalence fell by 40 per cent. Policies to reduce advertising were complemented by better public health education and taxation policies that made smoking progressively more expensive and reduced consumption". "My party's position on cannabis is entirely rational. What is irrational is allowing the legal sale of a product—tobacco—that kills hundreds of thousands of people every year while seeking to restrict the sale of cannabis, despite the harm done by thus driving cannabis users into the clutches of those who want to push more dangerous drugs. The irrationality lies in supporting the legal use of one and not the other. That is an important point. We believe that drugs policy should include tobacco and alcohol. The committee advising the Government on these things should have a wider remit. The current situation is nonsense". "Twenty-one per cent. of all tobacco sales in this country are illicit, and many are sales to children".

10 July 2002: Tony Blair defends cannabis reclassification

10 July 2002: Response to HAC Committee report - Blunkett: "the Advisory Council ... made it clear that greater differentiation between drugs that kill and drugs that cause harm would be both scientifically justified and educationally sensible". Letwin: "A serious argument can be made for complete legalisation of cannabis, with sale being taken out of the hands of the drug dealers and the substance being treated like tobacco or alcohol—licensed and taxed". Blunkett: "The policy has been adopted after receiving the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, scientific evidence". Hood: "The greatest killer drug in this country is tobacco. Young people are becoming increasingly addicted to tobacco, and that is a great problem for all parents". Blunkett: "The hon. Gentleman is right about treating addicts as opposed to punishing them—that must be the direction in which we move. There are no certainties in finding a way forward. If there were, we would have found them. The Netherlands and, recently, Portugal found that without legitimising fully the world supply of those drugs, which breaches every international convention, and the trafficking, by which I mean dealing and selling across the counter, the same conflict is faced all the time. There will be a contradiction whatever steps we take. If we were all prepared to examine that problem and be honest about it, we would have a much more rational debate. I might be prepared to accept that there is not a hard-drug user who did not start on either tobacco, alcohol or cannabis. If we were all more rational in what we think and say, we could have a more reasonable debate". Owen Jones: "I congratulate my right hon. Friend on being the first Home Secretary in 30 years to stand at the Dispatch Box and argue for a drugs policy based on evidence rather than prejudice and emotion". Summary

25 Nov 2002: Parental drug use, effect on kids

5 Dec 2002: Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs - Ainsworth: "Minutes of meetings of the Council are not published documents".

5 Dec 2002: Updated Drug Strategy - Hughes: "the issue goes beyond illegal drugs and includes alcohol, tobacco and so-called medicinal drugs that can also become addictive, such as amphetamines". Lilley: "It is bizarre to let people get drunk on alcohol, which is far more likely than cannabis to lead to violence, but to criminalise them for smoking one relaxing joint". Djanogly: "I note that not enough is being said here today or generally about alcohol abuse. There is a lack of clarity surrounding the Government's policy on how drugs and alcohol policy combine. The two cannot be detached". Wishart: "What has underpinned successive strategies in the past three decades … is our unshattering belief in prohibition—that by keeping drugs illegal we will keep people off drugs. Drug use has spiralled almost out of control under prohibition. We need to focus on the greatest killer of all drugs, the drug that causes us the greater number of problems and poses the greatest associated health risk, and that is alcohol. We know that alcohol has almost a monopoly on the legal drugs market". Stinchcombe: "some prohibited drugs are less harmful than drugs that are legal. Alcohol is addictive, leads to violence, is damaging to health, and kills between 5,000 and 40,000 people every year in England and Wales—yet it is lawful to buy, lawful to sell and lawful to use, subject only to constraints on age and access. Tobacco is lawful too, even though it is addictive, causes cancer and kills 120,000 people every year in the UK. If we were brave enough, we could take the trade in cannabis away from criminals, license it, regulate it, tax it and make it safe". Summary

13 Jan 2003: Drugs Policy: compulsory treatment

20 Mar 2003: Home Affairs Committee & UN mid-term review, Venna - Chairman: "I read your response to the comments by the International Narcotics Control Board in their annual report about the Government's very modest and sensible decision to reclassify cannabis. You talk of their "selective and inaccurate use of statistics"." Ainsworth: "I think UN bodies ought to base their pronouncements on evidence, fact and legal basis, and not on reaction and knee-jerk comment. It certainly seemed to me that that was exactly what they were doing. I do not believe there is any justification for the comments that they made". Chairman: "Is this organisation in the hands of zealots, do you think? Are their comments usually as unscientific and unjust as the ones in relation to our decision to reclassify cannabis? Why are their reports so unscientific if they have all these experts?" Ainsworth: "I do not know what the reasons were, whether it was headline-grabbing or whether it was just reacting to a lobby. It did not seem to be based on any reference to fact. Our analysis is that none of the Conventions are in any way preventing us from doing what we want to do". Cameron: "the Government position on the two UN bodies seems to be that they are pretty hopeless talking shops that set very odd targets, that use extraordinary statistics, but we have to take part, we have to be there and try and have an input. Is that an unfair summary?" Ainsworth: "I do not believe that international bodies should behave in that way and make pronouncements without any basis of fact or legality". Russell: "we suggested the Government should initiate a discussion with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways, including the possibility of legalisation and regulation to tackle the global drugs dilemma. The Government did not accept that recommendation. I wonder if you would care to say why". Ainsworth: "We do not believe legalisation is appropriate. Legalisation will carry its own problems. Those problems will self-evidently be some increase in prevalence and in usage".
Ainsworth
: "
The medical evidence is that cannabis should be in the "C" classification and not the "B" classification". Summary

26 Mar 2003: Home Office complaint to UN's International Narcotics Control Board - Ainsworth: "the alarmist language used, the absence of any reference to the scientific evidence on which that decision was based, and the misleading way in which the decision was presented by the INCB to the media. The decision to reclassify cannabis was based on scientific advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, following their detailed scrutiny of all the available scientific and research material. the Advisory Council concluded that cannabis is unquestionably harmful, but that its current classification is disproportionate both in relation to its inherent toxicity, and to that of other substances. I would find it extraordinary if the Board thought that the UK Government should have ignored the science and based our decision on what people in some quarters might think. ... the comments made in your report, your selective and inaccurate use of statistics, and failure to refer to the scientific basis on which the UK Government's decision was based all add up to ail ill-informed and potentially damaging message".

31 Mar 2003: Draft Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Modification) Order 2003 - Ainsworth: "needed ... to comply with a decision by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs".

4 Apr 2003: Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Modification) Order 2003 [Lords] & Prevention of Driving under the Influence of Drugs Bill - Baroness Walmsley: "Everyone knows that simple prohibition is not working. Why will the Government not learn from other countries that have opened their minds to alternatives to prohibition and work with them to amend the UN treaties so that they give countries more flexibility and options for working within their own communities to reduce the misuse of drugs?"

19 May 2003: Cannabis as Class C becomes arrestable - Ainsworth: "I move on to the amendments to clause 9, which deals with powers of arrest for possession of class C drugs".

22 May 2003: Questions - Tackling Drugs - Ainsworth: "The main motive behind the reclassification decision is to create a credible message that young people are prepared to listen to. They will not listen to us if we pretend that cannabis, harmful as it is, is as dangerous as heroin or crack cocaine".

11 June 2003: Effective Drug Policies [Lords] - Lord Cobbold: "One has to ask to what extent it is the responsibility of the state to protect individuals from damaging themselves. It is clearly the duty of the state to prevent injury and damage to third parties and to property. ...more sensible to treat drugs in the same way as we treat alcohol and tobacco. Supply would be regulated and subject to tax and, very importantly, to quality control. Tax revenues could be applied to healthcare and educational campaigns on the dangers of drug use. The [UN] conventions were further consolidated in June 1998 at the United Nations 20th General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem. ...ambitious targets ..."eliminating or reducing significantly the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy by the year 2008". ...five-year review actually took place at a conference in Vienna on 16th and 17th April this year. ...no progress whatever has been achieved in meeting the ambitious targets set in 1998. ...no attempt to measure progress against the target set at the UNGASS session five years ago. The forces of zero tolerance are firmly entrenched. I ask the Minister to … explain why the Government appear unwilling even to discuss the pros and cons of decriminalisation versus prohibition? …the United States is the ultimate protagonist of zero tolerance, which seems strange given its experience of alcohol prohibition in the past. The best that we can hope for is that the Government might agree to sponsor an objective, cost-benefit audit of the pros and cons of legalisation and regulation". Summary

16 June 2003: Question - cannabis reclassification - Flint: "The reclassification of cannabis is designed to continue to deter the use of cannabis while allowing the police to redeploy their resources to tackling more serious offences, including dealing in Class A drugs".

27 Oct 2003: Questions - Illegal Drugs - Flint: "We are not seeking to legalise cannabis by reclassifying it; we are trying to have an important debate based on scientific evidence that looks at the relative harm caused by different types of controlled drugs".

29 Oct 2003: Dangerous Drugs & Cannabis reclassification - Flint: "this Labour Government are absolutely right to focus on the most dangerous drugs. I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government are considering and have considered all the relevant evidence. More importantly, we have taken into account the work of the statutory advisory committee, which provides the scientific evidence on which to base our decisions. I tell my hon. Friend that I am acutely aware of the conditions that lead young people to start using drugs, to misuse alcohol and cigarettes. We have long had a system of classification for class A, B and C drugs and our proposals are about having a more informed view today, in the 21st century, of the comparative harms that various drugs can do". Winnick: "Is not it also a fact that ... more than 120,000 deaths in a single year were caused by smoking, in addition to the deaths caused through alcohol abuse?" Flint: "People take all sorts of substances either in moderation or in excess, which can create different levels of harm. We are trying to debate the different levels of harm produced by controlled drugs. …we need to have an honest discussion with our children. We have to make them better informed. … the measure is not about legalisation, but about having a mature discussion on the relative harms of drugs. I can tell my hon. Friend that the whole point of having three categories of classification is to assess scientifically the relative harms of different sorts of drugs". John Bercow: "…will the Minister undertake at least to reconsider the arguments for legalisation, taxation and regulated sale?" Flint: "I am afraid that I would not concede that point. We have already considered the matter. Our evidence suggests that legalisation would lead to an increase in the consumption of cannabis. We must be honest and credible and rely on science, not prejudice. … there are many reasons why people start to take drugs, or get involved with them. Many start by smoking tobacco, or misusing alcohol. Our drugs laws and educational messages to young people must reflect the scientific assessment of the advisory council if they are to be credible, convincing and, ultimately, effective". Summary

12 Nov 2003: Lords - Cannabis reclassification -

20 Jan 2004: Question - cannabis policy - Flint: "Our drugs laws and our educational messages to young people must reflect the relative harms of drugs, in accordance with the available scientific and medical advice, if they are to be credible".

4 Feb 2004: PM Questions - Blair: "I point out once again that the possession of cannabis remains a criminal offence. The purpose of what we have done recently [reclassification], however, is to ensure that the police, where they need to do so, can target their main resources and activity on dealing with hard drugs".

10 Feb 2004: Cannabis reclassification debate - Evans: "Surely we want a completely drugs-free zone and policy in this country, too". Flynn: "I hope ... that from today he stops selling cigarettes from the convenience store in Swansea in which he has an interest—that he will stop his own drug pushing".

8 Mar 2004: Health Question - Drug research by DoH not ACMD

11 Mar 2004: Drug research by DoH not ACMD

26 May 2004 : Public Bodies - Blears: "The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) ... had an expenditure/costs for the Financial Year 2003–04 of 137,793.27".

8 June 2004: Health Question (Cannabis) - Tynan: "Does she agree that our knowledge of the long-term effects of cannabis use is very poor and will she therefore start a comprehensive research programme, funded by the Government, to ensure that we are not building up a crisis for the future?" Rosie Winterton: "...the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs keeps the evidence of harm from all controlled drugs under constant review. ... the evidence is examined by the advisory council, which is independent. Reclassification took place only as a result of the advice received from that council".

22 Jun 2004 : Cannabis - Tynan: "There are differing views, even among those with expert knowledge on drugs. We need to separate the necessarily inexact and best guess areas of classification and law from the more certain areas of what science is saying about the harm caused by cannabis, especially to the mental health of our youth. The Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs cannot continue to do both. ... the advice and judgments of any body often depend on the question asked and the response received. The Government have of course relied on the advisory council's March 2002 report as justification for the decision to reclassify cannabis. The breadth of the advisory council's role has become unsustainable. Trust in its scientific assessments has been damaged by its attempt to comment on the science and health consequences of cannabis misuse and then to urge contentious decisions to be taken on reclassification. ...we need to reconsider the role of the advisory council. Perhaps it needs to be restructured so as to separate the science, enforcement and treatment aspects of its work from the wider direction of drugs policy. As a first step the statistics, information and research committee of the advisory council should consider meeting more regularly and publishing public reports. We should then consider whether to replace it with an independent scientific review body. We need to set up an independent body to assess the health implications of drugs misuse—both by commissioning research and by bringing together other research—separately from considering the policy aspects of combating that misuse". Flint: "My hon. Friend said a lot about the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and we should remind ourselves that it is a fully independent, non-departmental public body. The ACMD's March 2002 cannabis report clearly set out the scientific evidence for the risk of harm from cannabis. Setting cannabis in the context of other controlled drugs, the council concluded that class C was the most appropriate level of classification. As I said, the advisory council is an independent and impartial body, and it provides evidence-based advice to the Government". Summary

24 Jun 2004 : Question - Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Agenda, Minutes & research - Flint: "The ACMD's minutes and agendas are not public documents".

29 June 2004: Cannabis Question - Gillan: "To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans there are to repeat the longitudinal studies of cannabis smoking completed in the 1960s and 1970s to take account of the increased potency of today's cannabis". Flint: "We have no plans to replicate such studies. We rely upon the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which is based upon a wide-ranging review of the available research. It is the council's view that there is no clear evidence that variants of cannabis with higher levels of its main psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cause more health problems".