Cannabis has been used worldwide for thousands of years for medicinal and recreational reasons. In 1928 cannabis was outlawed in the U.K as a class B drug, following the Dangerous Drug Act (1925) yet little was actually known about the drug. Since then only a few studies have been commissioned researching into cannabis and despite the results from these studies it as remained illegal, only changing classification twice.
In 1928 an international drugs conference was held in Geneva, where an Egyptian delegate convinced everyone that cannabis was deadlier than opium and would soon become a very real threat to society and so it was outlawed. It wasn't until 1968 when the home office Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence compiled The Wootton Report, that any scientific research was actually done into cannabis. The Wootton Report concluded that long term consumption of the drug had no harmful effects, nor was there any evidence that it would cause any violent crimes or antisocial behaviour. There was also no evidence that it was producing in otherwise normal people conditions of dependence or psychosis requiring medical treatment. The New Home Secretary Jim Callaghan stated that he disagreed with the report weeks before it was officially released. It was strongly recommended that there should be a clear legal distinction between cannabis and other drugs, even reducing penalties for cannabis offences. However when the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) came out, cannabis remained illegal with only some penalties cut by half. The law on cannabis then remained untouched until 2004 when the decision was made to downgrade it to a Class C drug, hoping that the reclassification would lead to a significant reduction in costs to the police, prosecution agencies and courts without causing an increased level of use of cannabis or any sort of antisocial behaviour. At the time, reclassification had the support of the majority of the public, as 49% of adults supported the decriminalisation of cannabis with only 36% against and 15% weren't sure. Consequently, after reclassification, there was, in fact a significant fall in use.
In 2008 the government commissioned another study into the effects of this reclassification and yet on May 7th 2008, against the advice of the government's own report, the home secretary Jacqui Smith announced the government’s intentions to reclassify cannabis as a Class B drug. The then current Prime Minister Gordon brown, then announced that the government would set aside all findings of the committee and as of January 2009, Cannabis was once again a class B drug.
Later on that year, Professor David Nutt was dismissed as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) after publishing a journal which indicated that Cannabis was less harmful than both alcohol and cigarettes, and that taking ecstasy was less dangerous than horse riding.
To date, cannabis remains a class B drug. This means, if caught in possession the maximum custodial sentence is 5 years. However, in general, the penalty for possession is a street warning,. If caught a second time, one faces a on-the-spot £80 fine and their final warning. Apon being caught for a third time, the individual could be arrested which could lead to a criminal conviction for possession of a Class B substance. These penalties are fairly similar for those under the age of 18 but the parents of the individual are informed and the individual could be referred to a youth offending team. Supplying cannabis can lead to much harsher punishments, the maximum penalty for supplying someone with cannabis is a 14 year prison sentence and an unlimited fine, although technically, in the eyes of the law an individual is considered to be supplying cannabis even if he/she is sharing it out with their friends.
In 1999 the Legalise Cannabis Alliance registered as a political party with leader Alan Buffry.