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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 13:37 GMT
Cannabis laws: Who knows what?
BBC News Online asked shoppers in London what they knew about next week's relaxation in cannabis laws.

Sohail Steven, 23
Shop manager from West London
Sohail Steven

I read about the changes in the paper the day before yesterday - they're going to downgrade cannabis from Class B to Class C.

Instead of being more lenient they should make it stricter. It's giving the younger generation encouragement that it's harmless.

The government is basically saying 'try it'. This is just the beginning for the young ones - their drugs will get harder and harder.

Kelly Symonds, 25
TV director from South London
Kelly Symonds
I only found out about the new policies this morning on Radio 1 and I also heard the new government radio campaign.

The radio ad is rubbish. It's trying to use words for cannabis that your parents would use if they were trying to be hip.

They must have spent a fortune on it. The money could have been better spent on something more useful like armour in Iraq.

I am in favour of downgrading cannabis, though.

Olusegun Adekoya, 27
Mental health worker from South London
Olusegun Adekoya
The debate about the change in law has been going on for months now. The new laws mean you won't be arrested unless it's high quantities.

I'm very concerned about the Class C status because I work in mental health and more than half of my patients have had problems with cannabis. One of my patient's mental health problems are triggered by smoking cannabis.

It definitely causes illnesses like schizophrenia.

Bijan Jallali, 42
Caterer from West London
Bijan Jallali
No, I don't know about the cannabis law.

I don't really no the difference between cannabis, heroin and cocaine. But I think no drugs should be legal. They're probably harmful in the long term.

It doesn't do any good but then neither do a lot of things like drinking and smoking.

Sian Morgan, 35
Nurse from Bristol
Sian Morgan
As I understand it, it's still illegal to be in possession of cannabis but it's been put on a par with prescription drugs.

I think it can now be used for medical purposes and, as a nurse, I think that's a good idea because it helps with conditions like Multiple Sclerosis.

I don't see any problems with it being made legal. They don't have any problems in Amsterdam, do they?

Lee O'Shea, 44
Taxi driver from West London
Lee O'Shea
I personally agree with the downgrading because an awful lot of people are smoking it, simple as that.

I know a lot of people it may lead on to other drugs but I'm not sure about that. I don't think the hard gear should be legalised, though. I know all about the new laws because they've been all over the papers and on the radio.

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