Experts say cannabis should stay class C despite mental health fears

Members of the Advisory Council on Drugs (ACMD) are understood to have ruled out a change after hearing evidence from cannabis users as well as police and drugs charities.

The ACMD met yesterday and on Friday in response to a request from Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, to reassess the dangers of the drug. This followed the recent publication of studies which associated cannabis with "psychotic" symptoms.

The drug advisers were also asked to provide guidance on a higher classification for skunk - a more potent form of cannabis - but it is understood that members of the ACMD think this would be unworkable.

Most cases of cannabis possession are now non-arrestable offences, but research published next year is likely to show some police forces are continuing to take a hard line against users.

A source close to the ACMD said: "The feeling is that the committee has given thorough consideration to all the research on the health risks of cannabis and that reclassification is not necessary."

However, this does not rule out a rethink. Mr Clarke has indicated he still may reverse the decision of David Blunkett, the previous Home Secretary, to make cannabis a class C drug even if the ACMD advises him against this.