Alex Massie

Cannabis Confusion

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There's something cheering about today's announcement that the government has decided to ignore its own experts and reclassify Cannabis as a Class B, rather than a Class C drug. Not the decision itself which is entirely regrettable, but rather what it tells us about this government.

Not for the first time Labour wants to be seen to be "tough"; not for the first time it's pandering to the baser elements of a reactionary, hysterical press. So there's some comfort, I suppose, in the fact that even this government doesn't have the courage of its convictions (if such a term can usefully be applied to Jacqui Smith et al) since possession of cannabis will not, it seems, be treated as harshly as possession of other Class B substances. In other words, even the government can't quite bring itself to back its own decision - proof that it's a matter of appearance not real policy.

In this instance, of course, I welcome the gap between appearance and reality. But it's also further evidence that this crew have lost their bearings and whatever grip they once had. They have created a remarkable lose-lose situation for themselves: drug reformers and drug warriors alike have grounds for complaint. In other words, government policy is, pleasingly, an incoherent shambles.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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