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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Wootton Commission Report - Table of Contents



  • 1. I am in full agreement with the content of this Report, except for the suggestion in paragraph 89 that for offences of unauthorised possession, supply, sale or smuggling of cannabis the maximum penalty on indictment shall be 2 years’ imprisonment with or without an unlimited fine.

    2. So long as it is an offence to possess cannabis there will be a "market" for the trafficker to exploit. As some cannabis convictions have shown in the past, the "market" has been sufficiently large to attract organised smuggling of substantial quantities. It seems likely that the demand for cannabis will grow and trafficking may become more extensive. Professional criminals may become more involved, and the problem of urban crime made more serious.

    3. To forestall such a development and to minimise the social dangers to which young people would be exposed if trafficking were uncontrolled I am much concerned that the large-scale trafficker of cannabis should be effectively discouraged. I am not persuaded that the maximum penalties suggested by my colleagues would be effective. An unlimited power to fine is not a sure safeguard. If the alternative sentence of imprisonment is short, it may be preferred to a large fine. Experience shows that it is often difficult, and indeed sometimes impossible, to recover from a convicted person money which is the proceeds of crime.

    4. For these reasons I believe that those who traffic in large quantities of cannabis should be faced with the liability on conviction to more serious consequences than my colleagues propose. I am of the opinion that where a substantial quantity of cannabis is traced to the possession of an individual and there are reasons to believe that this is not for personal use but for sale, then it should be within the powers of the court dealing with the case on indictment to impose a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years in addition to an unlimited fine.

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