Don rejects PM’s stance on cannabis

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An Oxford pharmacologist has attacked the government’s plans to upgrade cannabis to a class B drug, ignoring directions not to speak to journalists.Professor Les Iversen (above), a leading expert on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), said that the government should not ignore the advice of the group, which is expected to conclude that reclassification is not justified.“I was not pleased to read what appears to be a deliberate leak about the government’s alleged intention to reclassify, regardless of advise received,” Iversen said.His outburst follows claims that the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Home Secretary Jaqui Smith are determined to reverse the decision to downgrade the drug to class C once the ACMD has completed their report in the next few months.He claimed that if the government went ahead with reclassification regardless of the ACMD’s report, its authority would be undermined.“If [we] were to recommend no change and this were to happen, I believe it would be the first time that any Home Secretary acted against the recommendations offered and it would call into question the whole function and future of this group,” he continued.The general recommendations of the ACMD report are not yet known, but ministers are already making clear that Jaqui Smith is prepared to overrule the expert group.According to the Reverend Martin Blakeborough, a former member of ACMD, Les Iversen and his collegues will be opposed to the Government’s stance. “There is no significantly new evidence to suggest that cannabis is any more harmful than in the last review we did eighteen months ago,” he explained. “There is no way that the ACMD would support any reclassification of cannabis unless there were some political shenanigans going on.”by Omotola Akerele

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