Monday, 26 January 2009
You couldn't make it up!
Cannabis use has gone down since the criminal penalties for its possession were reduced, so now, five years later, the Government is increasing the penalties!
In 2002/03 the proportion of 16 to 24 years old who had taken cannabis in the past year was 26.2%. The Government followed the advice of its Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and reduced the classification of cannabis from Class B to Class C. By 2006/07 the proportion of 16 to 24 years old cannabis users had fallen to 20.9%.
This is what the Advisory Council of experts said in its latest report:
* "Although cannabis causes physical harm to individuals the Council is unaware of significant new evidence since its last report." (12.3).
* Evidence about the effects on mental health have become more, rather than less, confused. (13.4.1). "On balance, the Council considers that the evidence points to a probable, but weak, causal link between psychotic illness and cannabis use," (12.9) but "...around 5,000 young men, or 20,000 young women, would need to be prevented from using cannabis to avoid one person developing schizophrenia." (12.9.1)
* "The Council (considers)...the risks of progression to class A drugs as a consequence of using cannabis...are less likely than those associated with the use of alcohol and tobacco." (12.11).
* "Cannabis should remain a Class C drug."
The Government's use of criminal penalties takes no account of this advice and is downright cruel to those who use cannabis for medicinal purposes. It is pathetic pandering to the tabloid press.
I would oppose the legal sale of cannabis to minors. I expect the government to inform people about dangers associated with its use. I support the use of criminal sanctions against people driving under the influence of the drug.
But most cannabis users will do nothing that can cause harm to another human being, and are unlikely to do any harm to themselves. In a free society there should be no laws to prevent them doing what they like.
Posted by Chris Davies at 13:08