Home Secretary Suella Braverman is considering upgrading cannabis from a class B to a class A drug over fears that it could be linked to numerous health issues.
To be clear, class A drugs include the likes of cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms and crystal meth, and possession can be punishable by up to seven years in prison.
If she follows through with the decision, Braverman, who became home secretary last month, would probably make a lot of enemies out of those calling to decriminalise the drug.
According to a source familiar with Braverman’s thinking, cited by The Times, the politician has is strongly opposed to decriminalising weed as she believes it sends a ‘cultural’ and ‘political’ signal that usage is ‘acceptable behaviour’.
Instead, the home secretary is said to have told allies she is on the ‘same side’ as a group of Conservative police and crime commissioners (PCCs) who believe the drug should be put in the same class as cocaine.
Braverman is also alarmed at evidence that suggests weed could be linked to issues such as psychosis, cancer and birth defects, and is expected to review the evidence before making a decision.
Last week, Dorset PCC David Sidwick claimed new health data on cannabis indicated a need to re-evaluate the penalties enforceable by law, saying: “We’re seeing it because it’s a gateway drug. If you look at the young people in treatment, the number one drug they are in treatment for is cannabis.”
Braverman is said to believe that deterring usage is critical when it comes to stunting the popularity of the drug among teenagers, with the source describing plans to ‘scare people’. However, she is conscious that upgrading cannabis to a class A drug would present a new challenge for police resources that are already struggling.
Braverman’s plans don’t stop with the upgrading of cannabis, as she has also signalled intentions to crack down on middle-class drug users, with random drug testing in offices and educational campaigns highlighting links between cocaine use, criminal gangs and the exploitation of young people.
If the home secretary decides to go ahead with plans to upgrade weed to a class A drug, it is unclear whether she would need to refer the matter to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the public body which makes recommendations to the government.