Pubdate: Thu, 22 May 2008
Source: Liverpool Echo (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales Limited
Author: Richard Irvine
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


WHEN I was a teenager, smoking marijuana was not that common in my 
circle of friends.

Sadly, these days it's a way of life.

You can't make people understand that it destroys lives, causes 
depression, paranoia and schizophrenia.

I don't care what anyone says, in my opinion - and experience - it 
does, repeat, does lead to harder drugs.

Just listen on my show each night to some of the no-hopers.

I did a programme last week and called it The Truth About Cannabis; 
we are repeating parts of it this Sunday on my City Talk show at 10pm.

At the end of the show I was still confused. No one on the streets 
seemed to understand the classification at all or the repercussions 
of smoking or growing marijuana.

And with the government reclassifying it again as a group B drug - 
it's even more confusing than ever.

The only argument the smokers of marijuana come up with, time and 
time again, is: But what about booze and cigarettes?

Well they would probably be illegal if they had just been discovered 
but they're not, so live with it.

Our chief constable Bernard Hogan-Howe is pleased it has been 
re-classified. As he said in the programme: "It's far more potent these days."

I was surprised to learn there are so many cannabis farms in this 
country. And our production is so good that we now export to other 
countries. There's a turnaround.

I was also surprised at the amount of paraphernalia that you can buy 
- - even seeds. But you are not allowed to grow them. So what's that all about?

Needless to say, on my programme in between all the interesting 
guests, we had the brain-dead idiots trying to get on to tell us the 
virtue of a spliff.

One person that did get on angered me so much. I couldn't believe 
what he was saying.

He told me his 13-year-old brother, who has anger problems, is a far 
better person when he has a spliff; that he is far more mellow. So 
they encouraged him to use it.

I was shocked, I couldn't make him understand that he's a child 
still. He's only 13.

Where the hell are the parents?

Where is the love and attention?

In fact, where are social services?

What chance has the kid like that got with that attitude?

I spoke to several drug cafe owners over in Amsterdam and, just for 
the record, using cannabis is not legal in Holland, it's just 
tolerated. But for how much longer?

The owners of the cafes are not sure any more because they've been 
having trouble with the EU.

They are only allowed to buy five plants at a time to use. So to 
supply the thousands of people, including Scousers, who visit each 
weekend they have to buy others illegally from unknown sources.

Journalist Nicky Taylor who was featured in Should I Smoke Dope? on 
BBC3, started smoking it for the programme to find out what the 
effects would be and what it was all about.

She had a journey that she'll never forget.

When she smoked her first joint she made the mistake of taking 27 
drags instead of two.

She ended up off her face.

One of the things that stuck in my mind was that while she was using 
the substance she appeared paranoid.

Deborah Bell, who is now lobbying the government for tougher laws on 
the drug, says her family was torn apart because of skunk; she also 
says, quite categorically, it is addictive.

But she also feels that there is no help for cannabis-users out there 
despite believing it is a gateway drug to others.

The only good thing I learnt from the programme is it really does 
seem to help people like MS sufferers and those with chronic back pain.

Education seems to be the only answer but how many times can you tell 
people: Please don't go down the drug trail, it will only end in tears.

I fear for our children.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom