London, United Kingdom: The downgrading of cannabis to a non-arrestable offense has not been associated with an increase in adolescents’ use of the drug, according to survey data published by the United Kingdom’s Department of Health.
The Department found that the number of young people who admitted having consumed cannabis in the past year fell from 13 percent to 11 percent in 2004 – the first reported dip in four years.
In January of 2004, Britain downgraded marijuana from a Class B to a Class C scheduled drug. Under this reclassification, individuals found in possession of personal use amounts of marijuana are cautioned by police, but, in general, are no longer arrested. (Police do retain the discretion to make an arrest under special “aggravated” circumstances, such as if marijuana is smoked on school grounds.)
Preliminary data published last year by the British Home Office indicated that far fewer Britons have been arrested for minor marijuana offenses since the drug’s reclassification.