Pubdate: Tue, 02 Jan 2007
Source: Eastern Daily Press (Norwich, UK)
Copyright: 2007sArchant Regional
Author: Ben Kendall


Drugs users across East Anglia were last night warned to exercise
extreme caution after research showed cannabis supplies are being
contaminated with harmful glass particles.

Campaign bodies lobbying for the legalisation of  cannabis claim small
glass beads - believed to be an  industrial spray used for glass
frosting - are being  added to herbal cannabis in a bid to increase
its  weight and making "deals" more expensive.

Norwich-based group Cannaprag says police raids during  the summer of
2006 which saw large scale cannabis farms  - including several in
Norwich, Yarmouth and King's  Lynn - closed down have created a
shortage of the drug  meaning dealers are contaminating supplies in a
bid to  meet demand.

But this could have serious health consequences for  thousands of
users with some already reporting mouth  ulcers, sore throats and
chesty persistent coughs.

Cannaprag spokesman Derek Williams said the cannabis  using community
has had suspicions about contamination  for about six months but has
only now obtained evidence  by analysing samples of the drug. At first
the  substance was thought to be a relatively harmless  material such
as sands but the results are far more  worrying.

Mr Williams added: "What has become clear through this  incident is
that the government has no method of  warning illegal drug users of
dangers such as this and  seemingly has no desire to do so.

"Government policy towards illegal drugs should not act  in such a way
as to increase the danger of using them  by adding unknown risks.

"Cannaprag is calling for public information campaign  to raise
awareness of this contamination as a matter of  urgency. It will be
affecting a huge number of people.  A public health warning is
urgently needed to inform  users that they should not smoke this
contaminated  cannabis and dealers should not sell it."

Mr Williams said that such contamination is a result of  prohibition
and legalising cannabis would allow the  government to ensure the
safety of supplies.

"The reality is that people are going to use cannabis  and, if that is
the case, the government should have  some way of ensuring their
safety. The only way of  doing this is through legalisation," he said.

Magnification of three samples shows small beads 50 -  120 micrometers
diameter, made of non-soluble high  melting point glass like substance.

If smoked without a filter - as is common - these glass  beads are
drawn into the lungs.

The author of the research has remained anonymous but  Cannaprag and
other legalisation campaign groups are  calling on the government to
conduct its own research. 
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