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Cannabis: Fixed Penalties

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 28 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidance he has issued on the referral of possession of cannabis cases to the magistrates' courts in circumstances where it followed the issuing of (a) one, (b) two and (c) three previous penalty notices for disorder to the same individual for the same offence. (249536)

When penalty notices for disorder become available for the offence of possessing cannabis, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will issue guidance under section 6 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 about their issue.

Also, the Association of Chief Police Officers will publish revised national guidance for the policing of cannabis possession as a Class B drug in England and Wales. This makes clear that while arrest is always the first option, an adult offender is likely to receive a cannabis warning for a first possession offence, and a penalty notice for disorder for a second offence. A third offence will result in arrest and consideration of likely further action including caution, conditional caution or prosecution. All subsequent offences are likely to result in arrest. If any aggravating factors are present the police will escalate the response accordingly. Ultimately, decisions as to the most appropriate disposal for an offender are made by the police and CPS using their professional judgment and experience.