Source: Evening News, Norwich,UK

Pub Date: Thursday, 8 May 2003

Pub LTE: Time for change of view over drug

Author: Alun Buffry, Legalise Cannabis Alliance http://www.lca-uk.org

Web: www.eveningnews24.co.uk

Contact: EveningNewsLetters@archant.co.uk


In her attempt to justify harsher laws against cannabis, June Rose makes several glaring errors ("The case for and against legalising cannabis", Evening News, April 28).

Ms Rose says "The cannabis plant .. was introduced to Britain in the 20th century."

In Culpeper's Complete Herbal of 1826, he writes about cannabis (although he calls it by its Englaish name 'hemp'): "It is so common a plant, and so well known by almost every inhabitant of the kingdom, that a description of it would be altogether superfluous."

He goes on to list several of the medical uses. In fact, Queen Victoria supposedly used the plant to ease the pain of menstruation, under the guidance of her physician.

June Rose also wrote that tests had revealed that "cannabis could cause a four-fold increase in schizophrenia and depression".

This is a misinterpretation of the results of those tests. The figures in this study which make the claim that cannabis causes

mental illness are the same as could be expected in a normal population. i.e. one to two per cent.

Home Office figures suggest that out of an estimated 4.5 million users (probably too low), 566 people were admitted to hospital with mental problems arising after consumption of cannabis and all but two recovered after the cannabis had worn off. The other 2 recovered later. That's about 1 in 9000 users.

That is hardly reason to punish either those people or the other users, provided that they harm nobody.

On the other hand, there have been over 1 million cannabis convictions over the last 30 years and that excludes cautions. Imagine the effect that has on the mind of the accused who has no victim to speak against him (or her).

In the words of the eminent The Kaiser Permanente study, Marijuana Use and Mortality" April 1997 American Journal of Public Health: "Relatively few adverse clinical effects from the chronic use of marijuana have been documented in humans.

"However, the criminalization of marijuana use may itself be a health hazard, since it may expose the users to violence and criminal activity."

It is time for a change of attitude over cannabis.

It may be, for some people, a health question but it ought not to be a matter for law. It is time to make a space for cannabis users as we have done for drinkers, and start including them in society instead of alienating them.


Alun Buffry