Published Letter: Give us justice for cannabis users

News and Star,Carlisle

October 13 2008

by Alun Buffry

Safe or sorry? Alun Buffry of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance says those who benefit from the drug deserve the protection of the law Give us justice for cannabis users

IN THE article “Is cannabis innocent?” (News & Star, Oct 9), Ross Brewster wrote: “before we rush to the conclusion that cannabis is an innocent stimulant, no different from cigarettes and a glass or three of wine, the case of Marc Middlebrook should make us stop and think.”

Clearly smoking cannabis can have different effects on different people, and as Ross also says, medical benefits for some.

But let’s get the facts straight, cannabis is very different from cigarettes and alcohol.

About 50 per cent of tobacco users die prematurely due to the habit; nicotine is one of the most addictive substances people consume; tobacco has no medical benefits for anyone and does harm to all who come anywhere near it, especially passive smokers.

Alcohol is one of the biggest causes of violence and crime, absenteeism and family problems, as well as the many accidents, illnesses and alcoholism that can come with it.

Cannabis, on the other hand, is not physically addictive, has been shown not to cause lung damage, cancer or liver damage etc – the very vast majority of victimless users claim to have benefited from its use.

And a major difference is that whereas massive international concerns are allowed to market their poisonous tobacco and dangerous alcoholic products, cannabis users are arrested and punished for growing a plant for their own use in their own homes, even when they have done absolutely no harm.

Those unfortunates who may have suffered after using cannabis – whether or not it was part of the cause of the problem – need help from doctors, not arrests by police.

In many cases I suspect their problems may never have arisen or would be recognised earlier had not the fear of arrest been there. And those who benefit from cannabis use and do not harm, deserve the protection of the law not punishment by it.

The impurities in cannabis often supplied on our streets, the connection to the world of crime and hard drugs, the lack of credible advice each pose a health risk to the millions of cannabis users in this country, but our Government seemingly prefers to leave distribution in the hands of criminals and arrest those who grow for themselves.

Where is the justice in that?