BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
England 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



Matthew Atha, independent Drugs Monitoring Unit
"This will partly refocus the government's priority on drugs"
 real 56k

Sunday, 1 July, 2001, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Cannabis price plummets
Joint rolling
Research may refocus government thinking
The price of cannabis in the UK is reaching a record low, according to research by an independent drug monitoring company.

The government has said the amount of cannabis seized dropped by around half over the past two years.

Customs officials have denied they are turning a blind eye to cannabis imports but say their priority is to seize Class A drugs.

The price trend for most drugs is downwards

Drug Monitoring Unit

The Drug Monitoring Unit, which carried out the latest research, says the "dramatic fall" in the price of cannabis since 1998 should serve to "refocus" the battle against drugs.

Spokesman Matthew Atha said: "This will partly refocus the government's priority on drugs which cause the real harm, rather than cannabis which is used by the whole cross-section of society."

Mr Atha added that the lower cost of cannabis did not automatically lead to a higher demand.

A report from Europe has already shown that more adults in Britain use cannabis than anywhere in the European Union.

Pilot scheme

The survey comes ahead of a controversial pilot scheme due to begin in Brixton, south London, on Monday, to let off people caught with a small amount of cannabis.

Police have the support of politicians and drug groups in their plans to focus their efforts on the fight against hard drugs, such as crack cocaine, and associated crimes.

Offenders will get an on-the-spot warning and the cannabis will be confiscated, but the matter will go no further.

Mr Atha said the findings of the latest research had to be seen within context.

"You have to take into account the amount seized year on year depends on a small number of very large seizures rather than a large number of small seizures."

Demand static

He said that demand was in fact little higher than it had been five years ago, when the price was 50 per cent higher.

The cost of ecstasy was falling to, he added which may be due to a drop in demand.

But the price of heroin and cocaine was relatively stable.

"The price trend for most drugs is downwards," he said.

The survey results will now be used by the Home Office, criminal courts and police forces.

One in ten British adults use cannabis, or have done in the last 12 months, the EU Drugs Agency figures suggested last year.

And the problem is also common in schools, where almost half of all pupils have tried cannabis by the time they leave.

By contrast, the figures showed that only 7% of teenagers in Portugal and Sweden have tried drugs.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

09 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Hague dumps Widdecombe drugs plan
08 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Tory drug confessors join growing club
05 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Widdecombe stands by drugs policy
04 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Tories get tough on drugs
24 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Senior Lib Dem tried cannabis
16 Jan 00 | UK Politics
I smoked cannabis, admits Mowlam
11 Oct 00 | UK
UK tops drugs survey
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories