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Police Chief Calls for "Sea Change" in Attitude Towards Cannabis


ACPOS NEWS RELEASE – 28 February 2007



The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) is calling for a sea change in attitudes to cannabis at an international conference dedicated to highlighting the reality of the most widely misused illicit drug by young people across Scotland .


Graeme Pearson, Director General of the SCDEA and ACPOS lead officer on drugs, will say:


"The current fashionable view that cannabis can be dealt with by way of a warning, a fixed penalty or some other diversion is simply taking us in the wrong direction. Scotland, in light of our experience of the smoking ban, must seize the lead in clearly stating that we strive to eliminate drugs in our communities."


The 2007 ACPOS Drugs Conference entitled, ‘The Hash Reality’, will include international speakers from the Office of The President of the United States of America , United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Serious Organised Crime Agency as well as Scottish police forces.  It takes place at the Westin Turnberry Resort, Ayrshire on Thursday 1st and Friday 2nd March 2007.


The theme of the conference highlights the desire of the police service in Scotland to re-examine issues surrounding cannabis and to dispel the myths about this illegal drug.


Delegates will examine cannabis trends; links to organised crime; developments in policing domestic cannabis cultivations; links between cannabis and psychosis; and the potency of street seizures.


Scotland has started to experience the large-scale cultivation of cannabis by organised crime groups. The potency of cannabis has increased significantly in the recent years and the links to mental health effects increasingly give cause for concern.


For the first time secondary school pupils, from Grange Academy in Kilmarnock , will join the conference by interactive video link to provide their own perspective on the discussion.


Graeme Pearson said:


"I have chosen this year's conference theme, ‘The Hash Reality’, because I consider the issues surrounding cannabis to be sufficiently important to be highlighted and discussed at this high-profile ACPOS event. Cannabis is, by far, the most widely misused illicit drug in the world. The World Drug Report 2006, produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, highlights the need to address the issue of cannabis seriously and makes clear why we need a mature and intelligent debate on the topic.


I am genuinely concerned about the prevalence of cannabis, its potency, the health effects and the confusion that has resulted from decisions in recent years to reclassify it. There is no doubt in my mind that cannabis presents a genuine threat to our young people and that it is increasingly a commodity being trafficked by organised crime groups for vast profits."


Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said:


“Strong enforcement of the law against drug dealing in all its forms remains a key part of our overall drugs strategy. Scottish Ministers have been uncompromising and consistent in making clear that all illegal drugs represent a serious threat to the strength of our communities, to the health of our people, and to the safety of our streets.


But it doesn’t matter how successful you are at reducing the supply of drugs into Scotland , if we don’t at the same time reduce demand for them. That means stopping people, particularly young people, getting involved in drugs in the first place – often through cannabis.


As we develop and refine our overall approach to tackling drug misuse, I want to make prevention and education a stronger element – targeted especially at those young people most likely to move from experimentation into serious drug abuse.”