Pubdate: Fri, 20 Oct 2006
Source: Herald, The (UK)
Copyright: 2006 The Herald
Author: Derek Williams


I'VE just read the article by Melanie Reid, Cannabis: a drug more
dangerous than heroin (October 19). It makes my blood boil to see such
an important issue as cannabis and mental health debased by such
ill-informed articles. There is no evidence whatsoever that today's
cannabis is "20 times as powerful as the natural product", and simply
repeating this myth will not make it true. As the European Monitoring
Centre for Drugs reported in 2004, there has always been strong cannabis
and some imported samples are at least as strong as "home-grown".

We have a total lack of some very basic information about cannabis,
the sort of things that we really should know. We don't know how
strong any sample will be, or how pure it is. This is entirely due to
the policy of prohibition which prevents any effective regulation of
the supply side. It's as if people were buying booze in unlabelled
plastic bags containing anything from beer to vodka to moonshine, such
is the way prohibition works.

Cannabis is called a "controlled drug", but in reality it is nothing
of the sort. But cannabis isn't simply THC and strength is not the
only consideration. Different types of cannabis contain very different
ratios of active chemicals, so it's important for any meaningful study
to know what people are using. Due to prohibition, this basic
information is not available.

The area of London which claims to have seen a doubling of
schizophrenia over 30-40 years is Brixton, where cannabis use is
virtually the norm; 30 years ago it certainly wasn't; but 30 years ago
the population was utterly different and lifestyles were different.

Derek Williams, Norwich.
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