are in Research
by the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence
COMMITTEE ON DRUG DEPENDENCE
Edward Wayne. M.D.. Ph.D.. D.Sc.. F.R.C.P.. F.R.C.P.(G.).
G. Bannister, Esq., C.B.E., D.M., M.R.C.P.s M.R.C.S.
J. P. Barraclough, Esq., C.B.E., T.D.
H. Bewley, Esq., M.D., F.R.C.P.I., D.P.M.
Blenkinsop, Esq., M.P.
C. Bloomfield, Esq., F.P.S., F.B.O.A.
E. Brodie, Esq., O.B.E.
H. Connell, Esq., M.D., D.P.M.
Rt. Hon. William Deedes, M.C., M.P.
G. Gibson, Esq., O.B.E., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.
D. P. Graham, Esq., 45.D., F.R.C.P. (Edin.), F.R.C.P.(G.).
E. IsW. Hobkirk. C.B.E., T.D.
B. Malleson, Esq., M.D., M.R.C.P.
J. S. Matthew, Esq., M.D., F.R.C.P.
B. Monro, Esq., M.D., Ph.D., M.R.C.P., D.P.M.
E. C. Murphy
W. Palmer, Esq.,
J. Werry, Esq., C.B.E.
Baroness Wootton of Abinger.
Aubrey Lewis M .D., F. R.C.P.
G. Lucas, Esq., M. B. Ch. B., M. R.C.P.(E)., D.P.M .. D/ obst) R C o G D. G. Turner,
of Hallucinogens Sub-Committee.
As from Ist November 1968, N. R. W Taylor, t:sq., M.B. Cl] H (Eel>>z NI.R.C.P.
COMMITTEE ON DRUG DEPENDENCE
Sir Edward Wayne, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.P.(G.))
have much pleasure in sending you and your colleagues, the Secretary of State
for Social Services and the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Report on Cannabis
prepared by the Hallucinogens Sub-Committee of the Advisory Committee on Drug
Dependence. The Report is submitted for consideration, with the complete endorsement
of the Advisory Committee. subject to the minor reserva-tions mentioned below.
of cannabis within the United Kingdom has hitherto been too limited for comprehensive
assessment. The Committee wish to pay tribute to the authors of the report for
the many hours and painstaking study each contributed.
do not pretend, however, that the Report can be regarded as final and definitive.
On the contrary, as is made plain in the Report, there is a grave and urgent need
for further expert study of all aspects of cannabis use and its consequences for
the individual and society.
think that the adverse effects which the consumption of cannabis in even small
amounts may produce in some people should not be dismissed as in-significant.
We have no doubt that the wider use of cannabis should not be encouraged. On the
other hand, we think that the dangers of its use as commonly accepted in the past
and the risk of progression to opiates have been overstated, and that the existing
criminal sanctions intended to curb its use are unjustifiably severe.
Sub-Committees recommendations are clearly stated in paragraph 101 of the
Report and fall into five main groups of research (recommendations (I) and (2));
recasting of the general drugs legislation (recommendation 3)); amendment of the
existing law relating to cannabis (recommendations (4) (9), (12)); synthetic cannabinols
(recommendation (11)); and a review of police powers of search and arrest in relation
to drug offences generally (recommendation 10)). In sum they represent a plea
for the use of cannabis to be judged more realistic-ally in our codes of law and
social behaviour, in the light of our present under-standing and pending the further
studies that are necessary. These recommendations do not in any way run counter
to the obligations to control cannabis assumed by H.M. Government as a Party to
the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961.
Advisory Committee has accepted recommendation (10) and intends to undertake as
soon as possible a review of the present powers of arrest and search in relation
to drug offences. We hope that you and your colleagues will feel able to accept
the remaining recommendations and to initiate the appropriate legislative and
other action that their implementation demands.
should now mention reservations to the Report. Those made by individual members
of the Sub-Committee need no elaboration on my part. Miss Murphy sympathises with
the reservation made by Mr. Schofield to paragraphs 85 to 90 and regrets the proposal
to retain imprisonment as a possible penalty for minor first offences. She suggests
that on summary conviction unlawful possession, sale or supply of cannabis should
be punishable in the case of a first offence with a fine not exceeding 100;
and for any subsequent such conviction or any conviction on indictment the penalties
should be those recommended by the Sub-Committee. The Committee is generally of
the view that imprisonment is no longer an appropriate punishment for those who
are unlawfully in possession of a small amount.
Committee has carefully reviewed the problem of trafficking in the light of the
reservations expressed by Mr. Brodie and Mr. Schofield. The dilemma is that a
maximum penalty on indictment for unlawful possession which might be expected
to deter a large-scale trafficker would have to be inordinately larger than the
harmfulness of the drug itself would justify. The Sub-Committee felt that if possession
with intent to use and possession with intent to supply could not be distinguished
in law, the penalties for unlawful possession should be matched more obviously
to the known harmfulness of the drug than to the potential profitability of large-scale
professional trafficking. Dr. Bannister, Miss Hobkirk and Dr. Gibson wish fully
to associate themselves with Mr. Brodie. Other members of the Advisory Committee
would be disposed to favour a some-what higher penalty on indictment than that
proposed in paragraph 89 but do not consider that the matter can be determined
without review of the corresponding penalties for other drugs; the majority of
us endorse the recommendation of the Sub-Committee.
conclusion, may I add that in the Advisory Committees view general publication
of the Sub-Committees Report would make a valuable contribution towards
a more informed understanding of the problem of cannabis. We earnestly recommend
to you and your colleagues that the Report should be published as soon as possible.
SECTION II Cannabis and its Clinical Features
III Cannabis in the United Kingdom
IV Social Aspects of Cannabis use
V A Comparison of Cannabis and Other Drugs
VI General Conclusions and Recommendations
By Mr. P. E. Brodie, O.B.E.
By Mr. Michael Schofield
1 Cannabis A review of the International Clinical Literature by Sir
APPENDIX 2 History of the Development of International Control
3 World Health Organisation Appraisal of Cannabistype Dependence
APPENDIX 4 Alphabetical list of Witnesses
5 Pharmacology of Cannabis
APPENDIX 6 Summary of Statutory Provisions for the Control
of Drugs in the United Kingdom