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British Police De-emphasizes Marijuana Enforcement

A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski
GORSKI-CENAPS Web Publications
Published On: July 5, 2001          Updated On: August 07, 2001
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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British Police De-emphasizes Marijuana Enforcement

Ed Johnson of The Associated Press reported on July 5, 2001 that British Police are experimenting with de-emphasizes marijuana enforcement.  Britain's Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971 makes it illegal to grow, produce, possess or supply marijuana to another person. Possession carries a maximum five years imprisonment.   The police, however, face serious manpower limitations that often result in diverting scarce police resources from fighting serious crime to enforcing marijuana laws.

A pilot program, will last for six months, was launched in London's crime-ridden borough of Lambeth in which anyone caught with a small amount of marijuana is let off with a verbal warning, as part of an effort to free officers to tackle crack cocaine, heroin and other crimes. 

Authorities insist that the program is not about leniency, but about freeing officers from paperwork so they can scarce police resources on other priorities such as crack cocaine, heroin and street robbery. In that past it has taken two officers several hours to process a marijuana smoker, who usually ends up paying a fine of less than $70. Officers will now spend a few minutes to confiscate the drug and give a verbal warning. 

Lambeth is a hard-bitten borough plagued by violent crime, prostitution and hard drugs. Shootings are commonplace, particularly among the so-called Yardie gangs - Jamaican gangsters. 

Drug dealers are a common sight on street corners, particularly in Brixton - an increasingly fashionable town in the borough despite its high crime rate and the stigma of the race riots that tore it apart in the early 1980s. 

Critics acknowledge the area has a serious problem with hard crime, but but believes that deemphasizing marijuana enforcement will compound problems because it sends the message to drug dealers that its OK to buy, sell, and use marijuana in this area which will increase the crime rate.

The new policy is based upon the principle that policing should be flexible. The government insists the Lambeth plan is a police resources issue, not the first step toward legalization. Nevertheless, the move has intensified the public debate about the drug.   

One in 10 British adults has used marijuana in the last 12 months, double the European average, according to the European Union Drugs Agency.  Almost half of all teens have tried marijuana - more commonly called cannabis in Britain - by the time they leave school. 

The governing Labor Party treads gingerly around the issue and has avoided a debate on legalizing marijuana.  Conservative lawmaker Ann Widdecombe said the experiment is the wrong solution to the real problem - too few policemen. 

In Brixton, residents are unfazed by the program.   ``Cannabis is so widely accepted here, it is not going to make any difference,'' said 23-year-old carpenter Harry Joe.

Key Words: International Drug Policy

On the Net: 

U.K. Cannabis Internet Activists,

European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction 

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About the Author

Terence T. Gorski is internationally recognized for his contributions to Relapse Prevention Therapy. The scope of his work, however, extends far beyond this. A skilled cognitive behavioral therapist with extensive training in experiential therapies, Gorski has broad-based experience and expertise in the chemical dependency, behavioral health, and criminal justice fields.

To make his ideas and methods more available, Gorski opened The CENAPS Corporation, a private training and consultation firm of founded in 1982.  CENAPS is committed to providing the most advanced training and consultation in the chemical dependency and behavioral health fields.

Gorski has also developed skills training workshops and a series of low-cost book, workbooks, pamphlets, audio and videotapes. He also works with a team of trainers and consultants who can assist individuals and programs to utilize his ideas and methods.
Terry Gorski is available for personal and program consultation, lecturing, and clinical skills training workshops. He also routinely schedules workshops, executive briefings, and personal growth experiences for clinicians, program managers, and policymakers.

Mr. Gorski holds a B.A. degree in psychology and sociology from Northeastern Illinois University and an M.A. degree from Webster's College in St. Louis, Missouri.  He is a Senior Certified Addiction Counselor In Illinois.  He is a prolific author who has published numerous books, pamphlets and articles.  Mr. Gorski routinely makes himself available for interviews, public presentations, and consultant.  He has presented lectures and conducted workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  

For books, audio, and video tapes written and recommended by Terry Gorski contact: Herald House - Independence Press, P.O. Box 390 Independence, MO 64055.  Telephone: 816-521-3015 0r 1-800-767-8181.  His publication website is

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This article is copyrighted by Terence To Gorski.  Permission is given to reproduce this article if the following conditions are met:  (1) The authorship of the article is properly referenced and the internet address is given;  (2) All references to the following three websites are retained when the article is reproduced -,,,; (3) If the article is published on a website a reciprocal link to the four websites listed under point two is provided on the website publishing the article.


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