Thursday, 12 May 2011

Re: Cannabis dangers are highlighted by judge

I was disappointed to read the comments of Karen Walden-Smith about cannabis ("Cannabis dangers are highlighted by judge", Essex Chronicle. 12 May).

Ms Walden-Smith said: ""Skunk, which was being grown, causes misery, with people who are fit and happy turned into shells of themselves."

In fact "skunk" is just one of many varieties of cannabis and it is a name incorrectly applied to most, although we can assume she is speaking about the stronger ones.

Reports from users show that the number of people that suffer bad effects is minute compared to the number of users that claim benefit - and that is under the present system of zero-tolerance prohibition.

What else would we expect but problems with a commodity not legally available yet used by at least ten per cent of the population?

Users must either grow it themselves and risk prison, or buy it from dealers whose crops are hidden away and uncontrollable - we don't know what chemicals they use or what they may add to boost profits.  Those commercial growers and dealers may offer other substances to their customers; they are unlikely to guarantee quality and their profits are not taxed.  And instead of a lower age limit (as in Dutch Coffeeshops) for customers, all one needs is a tenner for a deal.

Growing cannabis for sale is of course highly profitable and no matter how many crops are taken out by police, no matter how many growers or users are locked up, we can see that over the last 40 years prohibition has done nothing to help anyone.  The public purse suffers from these unsuccessful tactics.

How much better if it was grown under proper hygienic and safe conditions, legally, for sale to adults with proper guarantees to quality and good advice about use - and of course age restrictions.

It is undeniable - apart of court from by the cloth-eared Home Office that ignores the evidence - that cannabis is of medicinal benefit to many people and simply helps others to relax.

Chris Pegley, from the Essex Young Persons Drug and Alcohol Service, said "Some smokers function normally and are very sharp and intelligent, while some do turn into shells  - It all depends on the user."

So the real problems is with the users that do not get the accurate and credible advice that they deserve from their dealers.  This does not happen in Holland.

Ms Walden-Smith's comments could well be applied to alcohol - a drug far more addictive and damaging than cannabis - but would she take the breweries to court?

It is high time for a Government rethink.

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