Drug Policy

British Pot Smokers Still Face the Dreaded Finger Wag

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As expected, the British government has reclassified marijuana, a Class C "soft" drug since 2004, as a Class B drug. As NORML notes, "marijuana use by young people age 16 to 24 has fallen approximately 20 percent" since the drug's status was downgraded. Prime Minister Gordon Brown nevertheless ignored the advice of drug policy experts so he could "send a message" to Britain's youth about the "lethal" hazards of supposedly super-potent pot. Still, it looks like moving marijuana back to Class B will have few practical consequences. As before, people caught with small amounts of marijuana will receive warnings the first time around. A second offense can result in a citation and fine, while a third offense theoreticallly can lead to arrest and jail. But as NORML points out, "the Home Office will not document verbal warnings in a national database, making it difficult for police to know whether a defendant is facing their first, second, or third offense."