Source: Eastern Daily Press
Pub date: January 12 2006
Pub LTE: Status Did Not Help Tragedy
Author: Alun Buffry, Legalise Cannabis Alliance

In the article "Cannabis 'led to my son's illness" (EDP January 10), Mr Ivor King blames the use of cannabis for his son's (Richard) terrible
mental health problems and actions and calls upon Home Secretary Charles Clarke to upgrade the classification of cannabis.

When Richard developed the problems in the 1980's, cannabis WAS class B: the maximum penalty for possession was 5 years and it was long before  police started issuing warnings instead of arrests.

Obviously class B status did to prevent that tragedy whilst leading to the prosecution of  about tens of thousands of people who had not suffered and had done no harm through their cannabis use.

Furthermore, Richard also consumed alcohol... which undoubtedly can induce a form of psychosis that can lead to erratic behaviour.

Everything in the world that we come into contact with has an element of  risk for someone.

In most cases credible and accurate advice can be given to decrease that risk - not possible with.  So long as cannabis remains illegal, those warnings remain undeliverable to the people who count - particularly youngsters who see the cannabis ban as illogical and unjustifiable and become alienated to authority - cannabis use is very much mixed up with rebellion against a hypocritical system of law.

It's easy for people to blame cannabis for problems. It is the prohibition itself that creates far more problems for far more people, as well as criminal convictions and records that will effect them for possibly the rest of  their lives.

Alun Buffry
Legalise Cannabis Alliance
PO Box 198

in response to the following article:

Source: Eastern Daily Press
Date: 10 January 2005

The father of a paranoid schizophrenic who killed a man after being released from hospital has warned of the dangers of cannabis causing mental health problems.

Ivor King, 62, whose son Richard was sectioned indefinitely after pleading guilty to stabbing John 'Ghosty' West to death in Sheringham in 2004, urged Home Secretary Charles Clarke to have cannabis reclassified as a class B drug. Mr King said the drug, which was downgraded to class C by Mr Clarke's predecessor, David Blunkett, less than a year ago, was the “key” which unlocked schizophrenia in both his sons.

Mr Clarke ordered a review of its classification on the basis of medical evidence forthcoming since Mr Blunkett's decision and he is expected to make an announcement later this month.

Richard, 36, is in a secure hospital near Norwich and his father doubts he will ever be released, while his older brother David, 40, is at another mental hospital in Norfolk.

Mr King, who lives near Fakenham, said both sons were diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia in the mid 1980s.

He recalled the night Richard, then 18, first said he was hearing voices.

He said: “I put the video we were watching on pause and he just went crackers about it. I was trying to calm him down, then he started crying. He was begging me to help him and said he was hearing voices compelling him to do things.

“I made a doctor's appointment and he ended up being taken to what was then the David Rice hospital at Hellesdon. It was just downhill from there. Schizophrenia is incurable. It can be contained if you take your medication but there is no cure.”

Mr King said in the early '80s Richard and David were both living in Lowestoft, working as fishermen and spending their spare cash on drink and cannabis. It was then their mental health problems began and both had spent the past 20 years in and out of hospitals as well as taking a cocktail of prescription drugs to help them cope with schizophrenia.

“A psychologist told me the chance of having two sons who just became schizophrenic was 900 million to one,” said Mr King. “I've looked back into my family and my ex-wife - David's and Richard's mother - has looked back into hers, and there is no history of mental illness.

“There is a definite link between cannabis and schizophrenia. I want to say to the Home Secretary - for God's sake don't let cannabis stay downgraded.”

The possibility of a U-turn on cannabis follows the apparent findings of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the Government's official watchdog, that cannabis triggers psychosis in some users and exacerbates the condition of users who are already mentally ill.

Meanwhile Martin Barnes of DrugScope, the UK's leading independent centre of expertise on drugs, said: “Since cannabis was reclassified there has been more debate about the harms and some indication its use has started to decline. It would be difficult to explain why we have to move it back to B.”

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