Drugs adviser attacks Blair over cannabis review

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Tony Blair was warned by one of his own drugs advisers not to turn a rethink of the legal status of cannabis into a "political football".

Tony Blair was warned by one of his own drugs advisers not to turn a rethink of the legal status of cannabis into a "political football".

The issue of the drug's legal status caused a storm this weekend after Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, ordered the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to review its conclusion that high cannabis use was not associated with health problems. Lord Victor Adebowale of Thornes, a member of the advisory panel, said yesterday that a proposed review of the reclassification of cannabis needed to be based on "clear, hard facts and not conjecture".

Lord Adebowale, the chief executive of anti-addiction charity Turning Point, added: "It is important that the independent review takes place after the election, ensuring a decision about the legal status of cannabis does not become just another political football."

Mr Clarke has asked the ACMD to investigate claims that certain forms of the drug are linked to mental disorders.

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, the ACMD chairman, has made clear that his committee has already considered possible links with mental illness and concluded that there is little significant evidence of a direct link. The decision to reclassify cannabis was partly aimed at relieving pressure on police so they could focus efforts on prosecuting class A drug dealers.

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