Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jan 2006
Source: Eastern Daily Press (Norwich, UK)
Copyright: 2006sArchant Regional
Author: Ed Nash
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


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 

"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 

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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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom