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Tony Blair's Zero Tolerance Threat

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Monday, May 9, 2005
Newly re-elected British Prime Minister Tony Blair hinted this week that he'll be launching a US style crackdown on drugs in his next term telling a group of women voters that he wants zero tolerance' on drugs, including cannabis.

"I know people say cannabis is different from hard drugs — and of course it is — but I think there is a risk that you start with that and then get into other things," the Labour leader suggested. "And also I think there is increasing evidence emerging that it isn't quite as harmless as people make out."

However, Steve Rolles from drugs charity Transform told Skrufff they don't expect Blair's new government to reclassify cannabis from Class C to Class B, pointing out that the Advisory Council responsible for last year's partial decriminalisation have already defended it on health grounds.

"This seems to have been a political move to deflect accusations that Labour are soft on drugs," he said. "There have been numerous studies showing this so-called 'gateway theory' he refer to is nonsense, and meaningless in policy terms. It's historically been used to increase fears and help justify harsh policies. That would seem to be what Blair was doing this week," he continued, "Drug war rhetoric is as predictable as it is shallow."

"We have to hope that the rising tide of discontent about the obvious failings of UK and international drug legislation will prompt a rethink," Steve added. "There may be a window of opportunity in the post election period to have a more reasonable debate, but the UK is deeply committed to US style prohibition and have painted them selves into a corner with their hard line rhetoric. The recent Drugs Bill was a big step backwards and there is more promised," he warned.