Home Department written question – answered on 7th November 2001.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Labour, Newport West

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department

(1) what assessment he has made of the effect of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on the levels of consumption of (a) heroin, (b) cocaine and (c) cannabis;

(2) if his Department has recently considered the merits of (a) legalising and (b) decriminalising the use of illegal drugs.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

There has been no change in Government policy on legalising or decriminalising illegal drugs. Our drugs laws deter experimentation, a point borne out by public opinion surveys. For example 30 per cent. of adults questioned by MORI for the Police Foundation inquiry cited illegality as the main reason for not taking drugs. Moreover, the findings of the 1998–99 youth lifestyle survey revealed that 64 per cent. of respondents who had never taken cannabis had not done so because it is against the law.

The Home Secretary has asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to review the arguments for reclassifying cannabis from class B to class C. In giving evidence the Home Secretary said that he was not in favour of either legalisation or decriminalisation.

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