Home secretary: I wish I'd never taken a hard line on cannabis

By Ian Dunt

Gordon Brown's government should never have reclassified cannabis, his former home secretary has said.

Jacqui Smith reclassified cannabis from a Class C to a Class B drug when she was in Cabinet, following a liberalisation of the law under David Blunkett and Tony Blair a few years earlier.

"I'm more sympathetic now to the argument that there are people who use cannabis without harm," she told the Radio Times.

"I don't want tough messages being sent out by the law always translated into tough action against individuals."

Smith was advised by scientific experts not to reclassify the drug amid signs usage was falling, but many observers concluded Brown wanted to appeal to the Daily Mail with a conservative social agenda.

"From the people I've talked to in this programme, I know that it [reclassification] also caused confusion and dissent," Smith said.

"Was that worth the positive impacts of the change in law that I introduced? I'm no longer sure it was. I don't believe in decriminalisation or legalisation. But knowing what I know now, I would resist the temptation to resort to the law to tackle the harm from cannabis.

"Education, treatment and information, if we can get the message through, are perhaps a lot more effective."

Stoned Again is on Radio 5 Live at 10pm on Thursday November 29th.