Disabled Cannabis Campaigner Says New Laws Contravene Human Rights

By Carl Brown

A DISABLED man who is challenging a prosecution for growing cannabis has slammed the Government for reclassifying the drug as class B.

Edwin Stratton, suffers from hypersensitivity caused by coeliac disease, and is often in pain.

He says he finds cannabis relieves his symptoms more effectively than prescription drugs and is currently challenging a prosecution for growing the drug in the High Court.

He claims current laws contravene Article 14 of the Human Rights Act, which prohibit discrimination.

This week new laws reclassifying cannabis as a class B drug came into effect.

This means the maximum prison term for possessing cannabis has risen from two to five years.

Mr Stratton, 43, of Leyton High Road, said Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is “out of touch” with the public.

He said: “All the expert opinion is on other side of the argument to the Government.

“The u-turn is based, I think, on trying to appeal to a reactionary population, but I don’t think there is a core of prohibitionists in middle England anymore.”

Mr Stratton, who played drums in heavy metal band One Minute Silence, said prohibiting drugs drives them underground, makes them less safe and puts them into the hands of criminals.

He said: “The best way to make drugs safer is to put them where they can be seen.”

Mr Stratton rejected the claim that cannabis is stronger now than it used to be – but said prohibiting cannabis leads to stronger strains of the drug being produced.

He said: “It makes a lot more sense for people to grow one ounce of stronger cannabis, rather than a higher quantity of weaker cannabis, because there is less risk.

“Because of prohibition people also have to grow their plants indoors, using hydroponics, which again makes it stronger.

“Prohibition is doomed to fail.”

The Government says it decided to upgrade the drug because of fears about it simpact on mental health.

The Conservatives said the Government’s decision to reverse its polic showed the downgrading of cannabis had been a mistake, while the Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the reclassification would be ineffective.

Mr Stratton is due to appear at Waltham Forest Magistrates Court on February 19.