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Police likely to ignore Brown's cannabis changes

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The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) wants to keep flexibility in how it deals with people caught in possession of cannabis, despite Gordon Brown's apparent desire to reclassify it.

In a statement today, ACPO said: "We would seek to retain the flexibility in dealing with instances of simple possession on the street, including the discretion to issue warnings in appropriate circumstances."

ACPO supports the reclassification of cannabis and gave evidence in support of that position to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Today's statement said that if cannabis is restored to Class B category: "We would expect to see increased robust enforcement activity particularly in cases involving repeat offenders or where there are aggravating circumstances."

Chief constables are debating whether introducing fixed penalty fines for cannabis possession would help support the confiscate and warn strategy.

Roger Howard, chief executive of the UK Drug Policy Commission, told The Guardian: "There will be no new powers or resources for policing if cannabis is made class B, and cannabis warnings can still be issued instead of arrest."

There is still no official word on reclassification of cannabis although Brown is giving ever heavier hints that he will push for upgrading the drug, against the advice of his scientific advisors.

Brown told breakfast telly show GMTV he was concerned about "skunk, this more lethal part of cannabis".

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs gave its report to the Home Office on Monday. The report is believed to support leaving cannabis as a class C drug. The Home Office is still considering the research.

ACPO said it would not comment further on speculation but would wait until the Goverment had made a decision.

Cannabis was reclassified by David Blunkett in 2002 following a trial in Lambeth, London.

At that time aggravating circumstances included public disorder, blowing smoke in a police officer's face, or being under 17 years of age. ®

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