Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has called on the Government to rethink part of its drug strategy. Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on the drugs strategy last week, Mr. Lilley warned that merely reclassifying cannabis would fail to break the link between hard and soft drugs.

    Peter Lilley said after the debate:

    “Since I became involved in considering these issues in the last few years, I have been struck by the confusion and misinformation that bedevil debates on drug use. I welcome the decision to reclassify cannabis to a Class C drug. I do not believe that the use of cannabis automatically leads to the use of hard drugs. There is no chemical predisposition in the use of cannabis that leads one to use heroin and cocaine.

    “At present, cannabis is available only from the same illegal sources that push hard drugs. If we were to provide legal outlets for cannabis with licensing restrictions, those who wish to use this drug could do so legally without coming into contact with the gangs who push hard drugs. We would also take the supply of cannabis out of the hands of gangs and reduce their empire and wealth. Police time and effort would then be dedicated to combating the illegal supply of hard drugs ? which is a much greater problem in society.

    “This leaves the most powerful obstacle to legalisation ? the exaggeration of risks to health. Recent studies do not seriously alter the verdict of The Lancet – the most authoritative medical journal which reviewed all the medical evidence available and concluded that ?moderate indulgence in cannabis has little ill effect on health, and that decisions to ban or legalise cannabis should be based on other considerations.? Equally there is no doubt that heavy and sustained use is harmful. One advantage of legalisation would be that supplies of cannabis could be obliged to carry a health warning like tobacco. Those who are susceptible to schizophrenia should be warned not to take cannabis, and everyone should be discouraged from abusing it and using it excessively.

    “It is of course morally wrong to abuse alcohol, cannabis or any other and drug to the point of intoxication. But we should not look to the State to uphold, preach and enforce what is morally right. We should look to individual conscience, parents, teachers and others with moral standing to advise us on what is right and wrong. If we expect everything that is wrong to be made illegal, we shall find ourselves in a very unpleasant society.?