Greens sell drugs books on website

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THE GREEN Party's liberal drugs policies came under strong attack from the Government last night after news emerged that it was selling cannabis-growing guides and Ecstasy-testing kits on the Internet.

As the party's annual conference opens in Southport today, ministers seized on the contents of its official website as proof of its "dangerous" approach to legalisation.

Labour MPs called for a police inquiry into the affair after it was revealed that the website sold an array of books such as Cooking With Ganja, The Guide to Growing Ganja in Cool Climates and Potology: The Science and Sociology of Pot. The site also promotes an "E-testing kit" that checks the quality of Ecstasy tablets.

The site, set up by the party's drugs group, states that Green policy is to allow the public to grow cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes. "We are also in favour of the Dutch coffee shop system of distribution," the website reads.

The Greens have two MEPs, and 38 councillors on 19 different councils across England and Wales, and have recently made their biggest gains since their popularity peaked in the late 1980s.

Green Party policies include decriminalisation of the "small-scale possession" of all drugs and advocate non-custodial sentences for drug dealers.

The party also opposes testing of employees for illegal drug use, stating that such an approach is "not a war on drugs, it's a war on drug users".

The Greens' stance stands in stark contrast to the Tory leader William Hague's announcement yesterday that any adult convicted twice for selling hard drugs to children should be automatically jailed for life.

Labour is similarly hard-line, refusing to back calls by Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, for a Royal Commission into all drugs policy.

Last night Mike O'Brien, the Home Office minister with responsibility for drugs policy, condemned the Greens. "The Green Party are totally out of touch with reality. Drugs damage children and communities. They are putting children at risk," he said.

Andy Spring, a member of the Green Party's national executive, attacked the other parties' "hypocrisy". He told The Independent that the "E-testing kit" was aimed at giving drug users the chance to check if their Ecstasy was safe.

"We are not seeking to profit from this or the books. They are sold at cost price, I think," he said. "Our stance on drugs is an honest one and exposes the hypocrisy of the main political parties.

" The dishonesty of the other parties is what is damaging. People involved in the law, medicine and other fields have all concluded we need an open debate about drugs. That's what we are aiming to do."