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A senior government advisor has recommended that young people should not be criminalized for possessing small amount of drugs

Date: (20 June 2012)    |    

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Professor Les Iversen, chairman of the Advisory Council on the misuse of Drugs, has recommended that teenagers who possessed small amount of drugs or banned substances like cannabis would not be criminalized and rather should have their driving licenses confiscated or be sent to an awareness course which was already being done by the police who were imposing fines and warnings for cannabis possession.

He told MPs that criminalising teenagers for such offences could stop them getting into university or buying a house later in life.
In 2009 the then chairman of the group, Prof David Nutt, was sent off because he said that horse-riding was more dangerous than taking Ecstasy, and he also accused the ministers of “devaluing” scientific evidence on cannabis.
Prof Iversen told MPs on Tuesday that a way has to be evolved to divert criminal penalties to civil penalties. Civil penalties could include obligatory education in drug education schemes, or other penalties such as losing your driving licence for a while. This is to some extent what the police are already doing.
He said that seeing less numbers of young people having criminal records would be in the benefit of these people when they would start seeking a mortgage, getting a job, a college place etc in their later lives.
In written evidence to the Committee, which is undertaking the first parliamentary inquiry into drugs policy for more than 10 years, the advisory board gave further detail of the “creative” ways offenders could be dealt with.
The evidence said that irrespective of what age they were of or the type of drugs they had in their possession, when caught, if it was for personal use and with no other offences to tag them with they should be spared criminal records..
The board proposed “diversion” into education courses “similar to those for speeding drivers” or “temporary loss of a driving licence”, and claimed this would help reduce the harm to society caused by drugs, reduce repeat offending and reduce the costs to the criminal justice system.
It insisted that possession of drugs should remain a criminal offence.
Official figures back up the claim that many more young people caught with small amounts of drugs were being dealt with out of court.
However, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, told a Westminster lunch for journalists that she viewed drugs seriously and the damage it does to people in their family. There were far more people who thought drugs was something which one could do without as it does has an impact.