From: Cannabis Campaigners' Guide

Source: East Anglian Daily Times, UK

Pub Date: Wednesday, 17 July 2002

Pub LTE: Alcohol; and tobacco do more harm to society

Author: Alun Buffry, Legalise Cannabis Alliance,



How sad to read the story about Shaun Griffiths ('Cannabis sent tragic Shaun over the edge', 11 July).

It is always hard to respond to such anecdotes without sounding callous, but I feel that I must contest Shaun's mother's claim that cannabis was the cause of his suicide 14 years ago

Shaun's mother said that she knew that Shaun smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol, but was not aware that he took anything "stronger" than cannabis apart from 'magic mushrooms'.

Given that, it seems strange that cannabis of those four substances alone, is being blamed for the tragic loss. It is a scientific fact that cannabis is the least dangerous and least addictive of those substances; it is certainly not "stronger" than alcohol.

We are also left with the questions of whether Shaun took other drugs without his parents knowledge, and indeed whether the cannabis was pure or did it contain other substances and drugs?

I would not deny that some small percentage of cannabis users suffer detrimental psychological effects, but the Home Office figures that some 520 people out of an estimated 4.5 million UK cannabis users are each year diagnosed in hospital from suffering bad mental effects of which almost all immediately recover when they stop using cannabis - approx 0.01% of users.

Maybe Shaun was one of those unfortunates who never recovered from a bad cannabis experience or maybe it was caused by something else. It will probably never be known - a situation aggravated by the illegality of cannabis -we'll never know if it was clean.

One thing we do know for sure is that far more damage is done to individuals and society by alcohol and tobacco than by cannabis, are those are the two drugs we need to warn people about along with hard drugs.

We need to sever the link between cannabis and hard drugs and establish safe places where people who choose to use the plant to their benefit can go to buy and use it and enable those who do suffer adverse effects can seek medical help without fear of arrest. This can only happen after legalisation.

It is a greater shame that Mr Blunkett failed to recognise that and the result may well mean more cases similar to Shaun. That's what comes of leaving such a "pleasant" substance in the hands of criminals.

Alun Buffry

Legalise Cannabis Alliance