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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 06:53 GMT
Kennedy: Harry could prompt drug debate
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy says Prince Charles handled Harry well
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy hopes revelations about Prince Harry's experimentation with cannabis will kick-start a sensible debate about decriminalising the drug.

Mr Kennedy said the story was "all too typical" of what was happening in modern Britain and there were parents across the country who would have had similar experiences.

He added that the publicity surrounding the revelations should prompt a "rational, mature debate" about softening cannabis laws.


I think good can come out of this setback for Harry

Charles Kennedy
It has emerged that Prince Charles sent Harry to a drug rehabilitation clinic for a day last year - in order to shock him - after he admitted taking cannabis.

The prince - third in line to the throne - had also drunk heavily at a local pub, according to press reports.

Mr Kennedy told GMTV's The Sunday Programme: "Clearly there is a case to be looked at on decriminalisation when you now have so many judicial figures, senior police figures and politicians saying there is.

Taboo

"Whilst this is serious, this story today, that does put it in some context. If this helps move forward a rational, mature debate about these issues, I would very much welcome that.

"We are beginning to see that kind of rational debate, and when you see the Royal family being touched just like everybody else is, in one way I think good can come out of this setback for Harry.

The News of the World front cover
The News of the World said the story was 'every parent's nightmare'
"Households right across the country waking up to this story today will probably either have had very similar experiences with their own teenagers, or live in the apprehension that they might.

"The situation seems to have been taken under control very sensibly in a family way."

Mr Kennedy has repeatedly argued for an open debate on cannabis and says that such an important issue should not be taboo.

He wants a Royal Commission to examine the issue.

The call for a commission has been Lib Dem policy for many years after being passed at the party's annual conference in 1997.

See also:

06 Jul 01 | UK
Q & A: The dope on cannabis
24 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Senior Lib Dem tried cannabis
24 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Tax, drugs and Liberal Democracy
15 Aug 99 | UK Politics
Kennedy in cannabis call
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