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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 11:01 GMT
No 'blind eye' to cannabis users
Cannabis joint generic
Police will continue to crack down on cannabis use
Scottish police will not turn a blind eye to cannabis use when it is downgraded to a Class C drug, Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry has said.

He denied the home secretary's move to downgrade the drug from Class B sent out a conflicting message.

A 1m advertising campaign will remind people that cannabis remains illegal.

Police in England will, in future, make arrests only rarely for possession of small amounts of the drug.

Mr Henry told BBC Radio Scotland there would be no change in practice in Scotland, despite the change next week.

While the law on drug classification is a power reserved to Westminster, policing and law and order are devolved.

Denying that downgrading the drug implied a lighter touch by Scottish police in future, he said: "It does not imply that at all. In Scotland the police will operate in the same way they have been operating

It is an illegal drug and anyone caught in possession will still be pen to criminal prosecution
Hugh Henry
Deputy Justice Minister
"The point of reclassification is that the home secretary was given medical and scientific advice that the effects of cannabis, compared to certain other drugs, should be looked at differently.

"It's merely a statement of whether cannabis is as serious a drug as, for example, heroin or cocaine. It does not imply that cannabis is a safe drug."

Mr Henry added: "It is an illegal drug and anyone caught in possession will still be open to criminal prosecution.

"In Scotland, we will make a decision on how we apply the law and police it. And our view remains consistent. There is no change - the police will act in the way they have always acted, and the advice from the Crown Office will remain as it was before."

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