Brown ‘to be told’ cannabis should remain class C

The government is on a collision course with its own drugs advisers over the classification of cannabis.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is set to recommend cannabis remains a class C drug, despite the prime minister’s desire to reclassify it as a class B drug.

Gordon Brown ordered the review shortly after taking office, arguing evidence of stronger strains of cannabis justified a reclassification.

Speaking at his monthly press conference at Downing Street this week, he said reclassifying the drug would send the message to young people that it is both unacceptable and illegal.

He said stronger strains of cannabis meant the drug was now more serious than in the 1960s.

The advisory council refused to comment on its findings, saying it was still working on the review and will report to the home secretary on April 28th.

The Home Office said it would not comment until it had formally received the council’s report.

If Mr Brown does press ahead with reclassification, it will mark the first time the council’s recommendations have been overruled by the government.

On Tuesday, Mr Brown said: “I will take the advice obviously, as will the government as a whole, from the advisory committee and we will look at what they say.”

Cannabis was downgraded to a class C drug in January 2004, in a move designed to give the police more time to focus on serious drug users.

Former home secretary Charles Clarke was inclined to restore its class B status in 2006 but was deterred by an advisory council report concluding there was no basis for further reclassification.

The council’s panel of 23 experts have apparently again reached the same conclusion.

In particular they are reported to have been swayed by a study by the University of Keele which found no evidence rising cannabis use had lead to increased incidences of schizophrenia.