Cannabis should be treated like anything that carries small risk  - Published Letter from Alun Buffry

Source: Essex Enquirer
Date: January 24 2005
Author: Alun Buffry

Cannabis should be treated like anything that carries small risk

WITH REFERENCE the current debate on the possible upgrading of cannabis to a class B drug "Government should 'get real' over plans to regrade cannabis,Jan 12), surely all this takes is a little common sense!

The debate seems to be about how much risk is associated with cannabis use.  Clearly for most of the 5 million-plus UK users, very little.

But the range of opinions expressed in your article suggests that even after all this time, after all the studies and reports we've read, people including our own Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, just don't know!

Reader Russ Shepard was right when he said: "Some say it's alright and others are dead against it so that cause problems"

Cannabis has been used throughout the world for hundreds of years by hundreds of millions of people.

The number of users who seem to have suffered is small - and their tales are quite recent.

The very vast majority of users claim benefit.

We know something is dangerous when large numbers of people who do it suffer, and we know what is of low risk when only a small number of people suffer

That applies to alcohol, tobacco, heroin, sleeping pills, penicillin, aspirin - all of which are purely more dangerous than cannabis.

Sky-diving, fast driving, horse racing, boxing, mountaineering and so on, all carry risk, but the law is there with accurate advice and safety
precautions to try to reduce the number of people hurt.

In those cases the police arrest neither those hurt or those not hurt, unless they are suspected of harming others.

With cannabis it seems that they all run the risk of arrest, whether or not they do harm.

The answer, I believe, lies in legalising cannabis and treating it like everything else that people do that carries, for some, an element of danger.

Yours sincerely
Alun Buffry
Via Email

In response to:


Source: Essex Enquirer
Date: Jan 12 2006
Author: Alex Ellis

Government should 'get real' over plans to regrade cannabis.

AN ESSEX Pro-cannabis campaigner has called for the government to "get real" over plans to reclassify cannabis back to Class B.

Home Secretary is expected to announce the decision, which will make possession of cannabis an arrestable offence, within weeks.

The downgrading of cannabis from Class B to a Class C drug became law in January 2004 under the guidance of former Home Secretary David Blunkett.

The U-turn comes as new evidence about the potential devastating mental health side effects came to light.

But Don Barnard, Essex Spokesperson for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA), said "under no circumstance" does taking cannabis lead to using  harder drugs or mental illness.

We must not confuse the word 'use' with 'abuse'." he said. "The vast  majority of people who consume cannabis do not abuse it. There is plenty of evidence that cannabis has medicinal qualities. But like anything it can be harmful if used incorrectly or in excess."

But a consultant psychiatrist at Chelmsford addiction clinic, Dr Christopher Mayer, Said downgrading cannabis exposed many more people to drugs - and had a knock-on effect to cocaine use.

As an adult psychiatrist I have seen an explosion in the number of drug-  illnesses over the last 5 to 10 years. Cocaine is going to become a serious problem, Dr Mayer told the Enquirer.

Bob Spinks Tory MP for Castle Point, said he would support any move for  reclassification, warning cannabis was the stepping stone" to harder drugs.

"It was absolutely outragious they changed the law in the first place. It sent out an entirely wrong message to young people. Drugs destroy lives and it is about time we had a tougher approach to policing it," he said.

Angela Smith. Labour MP for Basildon and East Thurrock supported downgrading cannabis in 2004, but said it was a "difficult issue"

She said: "Cannabis is not the same as heroin or crack cocaine and it's not necessarily a criminal matter but does have severe health implications and is linked to schizophrenia.

"It is a matter of whether it should be dealt with by criminal law or if there are better ways to deal with it and hopefully Charles Clarke will
provide some useful guidance."

Side Bars Quotes With photos:

Russ Shepard 34, courier, Grays: Some say it's alright and others are dead against it so that causes problems. If you're smoking cannabis and causing trouble you should be dealt with. I do see a connection with cannabis and depression and that is a concern."

Jade Bennett 22, unemployed, Basildon: I don't see a problem with cannabis. If my own family used it I would be a little worried, But if it's used in a responsible way, I can't see why the law needs changing.  Using Cannabis probably does lead to long-term Drug abuse for some people."

Kerry Gleed, 21, Housewife, Canvey: I can't stand drugs so I think it would be a brilliant idea to reclassify  cannabis back to a Class B drug. It wrecks lives and destroys families and relationships. In the long run it leads to more serious drugs and kids are surrounded   by them enough already.

Alan reader, 73, retired, Basildon: "Cannabis should be banned. It has been proved that relaxing the law leads to bigger problems. They are even thinking about changing the laws in Holland so that only nationals can use it there. it leads to hard drugs use and there is a link with mental illness."


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