After several years experimenting with quasi-legalization of marijuana (it was still against the law, but you'd have to try really hard to get arrested for it), the UK has decided to reclassify cannabis again, making it more illegal, but, in that characteristically British way, signaling that nothing in particular is going to be done about it (in other words, the police have already said that they're not going to change their mostly hands-off policy).
The Guardian, one of Britain's two principal pothead papers (the other being the Independent, whose editor, Rosie Boycott, used to keep a potted pot plant in her office), writes about this in hurt-child tones ("But... but... all the experts say marijuana is good for you!") while acknowledging some of the data motivating the government's pseudo-crackdown on the devil weed, specifically some rather evidence linking cannabis use, especially among the young with schizophrenia and other forms of mental breakdown.
I myself have mixed feelings. As I've said for some time now, I'm in favor of any approach, legal, educational or otherwise, that reduces the amount of marijuana being smoked and decreases the likelihood of children and teenagers taking up the habit. It's just that there doesn't seem to be much evidence that stricter law enforcement accomplishes that purpose while it does seem to do considerable harm to many young people who might otherwise never enter the criminal justice system.
At the same time, I don't think it can any longer be disputed that marijuana does serve as an entry-level drug, not just for harder drugs, but also for other forms of more serious criminal activity. The bien pensant liberal left laughs solipsistically at such a notion, damning it as a throwback to the Reefer Madness era of drug education on the grounds that all their friends react to marijuana with nothing more than an increased interest in hobbits or fudge brownies or cod philosophy. They can't seem to get it through their heads that smoking blunts has a rather different effect on young gangbangers, dulling if not eliminating any inclination toward education or work while simultaneously extirpating any remaining vestiges of moral inhibition. Many a bong-sucking hippie has gotten it into his head that he's some form of god; these cats can get similar ideas, but more along the Old Testament avenging angel, drowning whole cities in blood fire sort of line.
But what are you gonna do? Locking as many of them up as possible doesn't seem to have accomplished any more than the "Let the people smoke all the herb they want, man, it's medicine" line. Personally, what I'd like to see (or at least what I think might be most effective) is for marijuana to be treated like cigarettes, i.e., legal for adults, but with strict limitations on where it can be used, with copious amounts of social opprobrium attached to the sad losers who can't seem to kick the habit. It seems to be working with tobacco: whereas at one time half of all adults smoked, it's now down below 20%, especially in those areas which strictly enforce public smoking bans and heavily tax tobacco sales with at least part of the money being used for education and programs to help people quit.
Under the present system, there's still a certain amount of glamor and raciness attached to marijuana use. The pothead has managed to get himself portrayed as a sort of adventurer or rebel rather than as a drug addict and retro-hippie burnout, and as long as this remains the case, kids will inevitably find it necessary to demonstrate their individuality and independence by going along with the pot-smoking herd. When we stop treating potheads as criminals and turn them into laughingstocks instead, we might finally make some progress.