Scotsman, United Kingdom
THE world's leading advocate for drugs reform last night urged Tony Blair to resist toughening the law on cannabis.
Ethan Nadelmann said making cannabis a class B drug would be "incredibly stupid", doing nothing to reduce its use and only serving to criminalise thousands of young people.
Mr Nadelmann, executive director of the United States-based Drug Policy Alliance, also said the only way to reduce harm caused by heroin was to allow doctors to prescribe it to addicts.
Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, is awaiting a report from the government's advisory council on drug misuse on whether cannabis should be restored to Class B status.
Mr Nadelmann said doing so "would be an incredibly stupid thing to do".
"This would simply intensify the hypocrisy of the government's war on drugs and is one area where Tony Blair is foolishly following in the footsteps of a disastrous US policy," he said.
Mr Nadelmann said the only sensible option was to take cannabis out of the black market and legalise it.
He put forward his argument at the prestigious Edinburgh Lectures in the City Chambers. Previous speakers at the event have included former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Professor Stephen Hawking.
Tom Wood, former deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police and now chairman of the Drugs Action Team in Edinburgh which invited Mr Nadelmann, said: "We may not agree with everything he says, but Mr Nadelmann is a breath of fresh air to the drugs debate in Scotland."