Source: Evening News (Norwich UK)
Contact:  Sat, 28 Mar 1998


IT WAS a good article on the cannabis debate (Evening News, March 18) but
Derek Williams couldn't have been thinking right when he suggested a lower
age limit of 18 for buying cannabis "over the counter."

Surely he acknowledges that a huge number of youngsters already take
cannabis and other drugs illegally and his proposal will do nothing to help

They will all still have to buy it illegally, and they will.

Derek obviously feels that the present law banning cannabis is wrong, so
why does he want to continue applying it to kids?

As Jack Girling sensible pointed out: "If youngsters did not have to buy
cannabis illegally they would not be exposed to dealers selling hard

Under Mr Williams' proposal that would continue to happen.

Mr Girling is right, cannabis is a plant, not a drug, and should never have
been banned in the first place.

G French, Norwich

Thank you for livening up the cannabis debate. (IS IT TIME TO LEGALISE
CANNABIS?: Evening News, March 18).

This very serious question deserves far more attention than most
politicians seem to want to give it.

Whilst it was clear that not all 'legalise cannabis campaigners' want
exactly the same changes in law, the prohibition arguments let their own
side down badly.

All the harm allegations which Mr Paul Betts attributed to cannabis have
been contradicted in the scientific reports.

Without going into detail now I can point to two publications which
exonerate cannabis from the myths perpetuated by prohibitionists.  These
are 'Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts' by Professors Morgan and Zimmer, and
The Report of the FCDA Europe.

If Mr Betts and his lobby went to the trouble of reading the evidence they
may learn something.

Clearly the 'Keep cannabis illegal" lobby have no argument at all, for even
if cannabis did cause problems, the present legal system is causing even

It is the very illegality of cannabis which has thrown the supplies and
untaxed profits into the hands of criminally organised gangs who act as the
real 'gateway' to lead people from one substance to another.

Alun Buffry, Norwich

Thank you for the special feature on the legalisation of cannabis (Evening
News, March 18), which on the whole was a well-balanced reflection of the
arguments one hears.

The comments made by Jack Girling and Paul Betts illustrates how this
debate has so far been a conversation of the deaf.

On the one hand Jack thinks cannabis is not only harmless but always
beneficial in every aspect, whereas Paul Betts accused it of just about
everything, including shrinking the brain.

Of course, both of these opinions are just that, opinions, and the truth
lies somewhere in between.

Cannabis is an integal part of many peoples lives and we, as a society,
have to come to terms with that.

Unfortunately, the Government, its so-called "drug tsar" Keith Hallawell
and head-in-the-sand Home Secretary Jack Straw are doing nothing to improve
the situation.

Perhaps the most disturbing comments were made by the police who, according
to your report, oppose legalisation.

Was Det Chief Insp Chris Grant really reflecting Norfolk police policy or
was he stating a personal opinion?

It was particularly disturbing to see the police endorsing the outlandish
claims of Paul Betts.

As Norwich North MP Dr Ian Gibson (a "child of the sixties" as he put it)
said, the use of cannabis as a recreational drug is not going to go away.

Either we learn to live with that fact, or we tear our society apart in a
futile effort based upon ignorance, lies and the twisted morals of

Derek Williams, Norwich