"The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Modification) (No. 2) Order 20035 reclassified cannabinol and cannabinol derivatives (previously Class A drugs), and cannabis and cannabis resin (previously Class B) as Class C drugs; effective from January 2004. This followed an assessment of their relative harmfulness (ACMD 2002), and should enable a more effective message to be conveyed about the graded scale of danger of different types of drugs, according to their classification. In addition, it reinforces Government’s priority to tackle those drugs that cause the most harm: Class A drugs.
"With reclassification, the maximum sentence for possession has been reduced from five to two years imprisonment. However, penalties for drug-related offences have been increased; the maximum penalty for trafficking Class C drugs has increased from five to 14 years imprisonment. Under the Cannabis Enforcement Guidance issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO 2003) to police forces in September 2003, there is a presumption against arrest for those aged 18 or over found in possession of cannabis6. Guidance is directed at ensuring that certain individual offenders are dealt with appropriately. Guidance relates to:
"• those repeatedly dealt with for possession of cannabis (repeat offenders);
"• those whose cannabis use causes or threatens to cause public disorder; and
"• those in possession of cannabis in or near premises where young people are present and vulnerable (e.g. schools, youth clubs and play areas).
"It is expected that for most possession offences, a police warning and confiscation of the drug will be sufficient. The subsequent time saved is intended to allow the police to focus greater resources on priority areas such as tackling Class A drug supply offences."


UK Focal Point, "United Kingdom Drug Situation. Annual Report to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) 2004" (Lisbon, Portugal: EMCDDA, 2005), pp. 16-17.