[THS] UK: Drug Users Could Escape Jail Under New Rules
The Harder Stuff in news and commentary
ths at psalience.org
Tue Jan 31 10:54:15 CET 2012
UK: Drug Users Could Escape Jail Under New Rules
Tuesday 24 Jan 2012
Friends socially sharing drugs and those using cannabis for medicinal
purposes could escape jail under new guidelines for judges. [sic!]
Drug runners and small-time dealers caught with heroin, cocaine or
thousands of pounds worth of cannabis could also avoid prison.
Instead, low-level operatives caught with 6kg of cannabis, 20 ecstasy
tablets, or five grams of heroin or cocaine could instead receive a
The guidelines, which come into force on February 27, are expected to
be met with a mixed reaction.
They state a prison sentence may not be necessary for people who
supply small amounts of narcotics to share with their friends for no
They also urge judges to reduce sentences for cannabis possession if
it is being used "to help with a diagnosed medical condition".
It is the first time all courts in England and Wales have been given a
comprehensive guideline setting out how the role of the offender and
the quantity of drugs should influence sentencing.
So-called drug "mules", often women forced or tricked into the crime,
could face a starting point of six years if deemed to be playing a
"lesser role" in bringing up to 1kg of heroin or cocaine into the
This is compared to the 11-year starting point if the offender is one
of the leading figures.
But the Sentencing Council said offenders who were employed by someone
else to import or export drugs regularly for profit would still face
tough sentences of up to life in prison.
It said tougher sentences could also be handed down to key players
guilty of producing drugs on a large scale.
Offenders in a leading role in the production or cultivation of 11lb
(5kg) of heroin or cocaine or tens of thousands of ecstasy tablets
could face up to 16 years in prison.
Those producing industrial quantities of cannabis for commercial
purposes could also face up to 10 years in jail.
Anyone dealing to those aged under 18 would also face tougher
Under the guidelines, street dealers will still face jail, with those
playing a key role in selling class A drugs facing a starting point of
four and a half years, with up to 16 years for a single incident,
depending on the quantity of drugs involved.
Professor David Nutt, the former government drugs adviser sacked in
2009, told Sky News he supports reform.
"The drug laws are not based on any kind of sense or evidence so any
sentencing for drugs is questionable," he said.
"What we should be doing is properly revising the drug laws so that
the sentencing is proportional to the harm of drugs," he added.
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