Primary school pupils caught with cannabis
CRIME REPORTER (firstname.lastname@example.org)
TWO primary school children in the Lothians were caught with cannabis allegedly sold to them by a teenager.
The boys aged ten and 11, and another boy aged 13, were found with the drug in the West Lothian town of Whitburn on Sunday.
It is understood the mother of the youngest boy called the police after he returned to the family home that evening and showed her the small block of cannabis resin.
The boy and his friends are believed to have bought the drug in a playpark after handing over their pocket money.
Police launched an investigation to trace the dealer and a 17-year-old boy was later detained in connection with the incident. A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal. The three children are not believed to have used any of the cannabis they bought and they are not expected to face charges.
Drug campaigners today said the case was "unusual" and warned young children of the dangers of the drug.
They also called for more education on illegal substances to be made available to children at a younger age.
A Scottish Executive study last year found the number of children seeking help for cannabis abuse had trebled in five years. Last year medics in the Lothians dealt with 46 - including a nine-year-old.
Tom Wood, chairman of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drugs Action Teams, said: "We have to start teaching young people about drug and alcohol issues as early as possible.
"Studies have also shown that the younger someone is when they start using cannabis, the more damage it causes to their bodies.
"Obviously they are smaller and at an earlier developmental stage, which makes the drug more harmful. The earlier they begin using, the more opportunity there is for them to move on to even more harmful substances in the future."
According to a recent survey, a third of 15-year-olds have used cannabis and almost one in eight has tried drugs such as cocaine, speed and Ecstasy. Among 13-year-olds, more than one in ten claims to have used drugs.
Fiona Scott, youth team manager with Streetwork, a group that sends volunteers to housing estates to educate young people to help them stay off drugs, said:
"We're deeply saddened about this case involving such young people. We're also saddened that another older teenager has allegedly been involved in dealing to them. We also work to prevent such youngsters being involved in criminality and to stop them being exploited as well.
"Youngsters have to be made aware of the dangers such drugs have on their health. Early intervention is a useful step in getting that message across."
A police spokesman confirmed a 17-year-old had been reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with incident. In May 2005, the Evening News reported that children as young as 14 have been caught dealing heroin in the Capital. Schoolboy dealers were also arrested for selling cocaine and cannabis in the city.
SNP promises to maintain tough stance
THERE will be no let-up in enforcement of the law on cannabis, the Scottish Government pledged today.
Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing said the misuse of drugs was one of today's biggest social challenges.
And he said the SNP Government wanted to see a renewed emphasis on prevention and early intervention and a strengthening of drug education in schools.
But he said: "There will be no let-up on enforcement. Tackling the supply of all forms of illegal drugs - including cannabis - remains an essential part of our strategy.
"We will be unstinting in our support of the police to disrupt the drug dealing networks and the organised crime groups behind them."
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