Great Britain Reclassifies Pot: Where Do Our Candidates Stand?
It's official. Effective today, Great Britain has reclassified and downgraded marijuana. Instead of being a class B drug like amphetamines, it is a class C drug like tranquilizers and steroids. Possession of small amounts results in an on-the-spot warning.
Under the reclassification, the possession, production and supply of marijuana are still illegal, but the penalties are different. Adults found carrying the drug are now more likely to receive a warning than a prison sentence. And the maximum prison sentence for possession has dropped from five to two years. Legally, this brings Britain in line with some European countries such as the Netherlands, although in practice these laws are likely to be more strictly enforced in Britain.
At least in Britain, reefer madness is slowly giving way to acceptance that marijuana does have medical benefits:
...the drug may have positive effects for some. Marijuana is thought to dull chronic pain and may ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable disease of the nervous system that causes spasms, pain and tremor.
In a recent large-scale trial, 60% of MS patients who took synthetic cannabis said it helped their mobility and eased their pain and muscle stiffness. "It doesn't suit everyone, but it does suit some," says Clare Hodges, MS sufferer and founder of the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, a pressure group that lobbies for the medicinal use of marijuana. About 10,000 seriously ill patients in Britain use cannabis to control their symptoms, says Hodges. Sufferers tend to smoke or eat the drug.
A leading British criminologist gives the reasons why the downgrading should be extended to small home growers.
How do our presidential candidates stack up on the issue? Check out NORML's presidential score card and find out where they stand on decriminalization, on medical use and on the Higher Education Act provision that prevents convicted marijuana offenders from receiving student aid.
John Kerry scores the highest of the viable candidates. He is the only candidate expressing any support for medical marijuana:
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