Friday, 23 March 2012

Concerns over online drugs poll - comment

"legalising cannabis" is about law and Justice - we must ask first whether the possession or small scale cultivation of cannabis poses any threat or does any harm to others - in itself - not speculate. For instance, when it comes to unsafely driving whilst under the influence then that would come under driving laws just as over-the-limit drinking does: alcohol is not banned despite accidents, fights, destruction of property etc - and anyone proved guilty of that can be dealt with by the authorities irrespective of whether they are sober, drunk or high on pot. It would not be seen as just by many people to punish everyone that drinks alcohol because of what a minority of others do.

Likewise with illness: cannabis is actually far less risk to health than aspirin, tobacco, alcohol and it is surely not Just to punish users because they or others get ill?

Cannabis, like alcohol, is widely used in the UK - by millions - and those unable or unwilling to grow their own are exposed to drug dealers and crime - lack of information, availability of other drugs, contaminated cannabis that poses health risks of its own.

Imagine if the only source of alcohol was illegal dealers or manufacturers, that criminals control the supply! Oh yes, they tried that in the US and had to legalise alcohol again.

And the cost to the taxpayer of chasing over 3 million regular users, thousands of growers and dealers, only to find that however many or fined or locked up, there is more and more cannabis on the streets.

Then there is the ridiculous situation where people like Winston Matthews in Surrey are imprisoned for growing cannabis to ease the terrible pains of illness or injury - nobody else involved.

Consider the cost to the NHS of providing pharmaceutical drugs, often with their own risks and side-effects, to people that claim cannabis is more effective. Now Pharmacists are producing whole-cannabis extract containing about ten pounds worth which they sell at over £120 a can of spray to people in desperate need whilst they risk prison if they grow their own.

Of course there is the cost of potentially criminalising millions of our youth - for a crime without victims.

Not forgetting of course, that if it is legal to grow cannabis then it is legal to grow hemp - a valuable source of fibre, foodstuff, oils and environmentally-friendly fuels - local hemp could avoid the problem of transporting fossil fuels around the world and ease up on pollution.

And what of the negative impact: less profit for giant petrochemical and pharmaceutical companies, less work for the police and courts .. less money for drug dealers.

I voted in favour of legalising cannabis also realising that it is not cannabis that needs legalising because it is not itself illegal - it is the possession, cultivation and supply that is illegal and need legalising - the law is aimed at people, not drugs - the "war on drugs" is a war on drug-users, not substances.

I have studied the pro's and cons: I hear the cries that cannabis causes problems in a minority of users, and poses risks to others if people drive whilst high - but all those risks are made worse by the failed prohibition.

I would advise anyone seriously concerned about those risks to use the WWW and search for evidence, because there are several reports out there claiming cannabis has little detrimental effect on driving skills and poses only a small risk to a small percentage of people predisposed to certain mental health condition eg”

Leicester Mercury, March 23 21012
Concerns over online drugs poll

Regarding the online poll about the legalisation of cannabis, I was rather perturbed to see that so many seem to be in favour of a change in the law.
Admittedly the respondents are a self-selected group and not necessarily representative of the general population but their influence may be important.
In addition to the concerns about mental health, progression to other drugs, etc, I do wonder how many of those wanting to decriminalize cannabis have considered its detrimental impact on daily functioning.
Very recently, a research paper in the British Medical Journal found that cannabis use doubles the odds of having a motor vehicle crash.
So I would suggest if the rules concerning so-called "recreational" drugs are to change then it will also be necessary to consider implementing drug-driving legislation in order to keep the remainder of the community safe from the increased threat of road accidents.
Personal use of drugs has wide-reaching effects beyond those on the individual and this must not be forgotten.
Eleanor Mather, Earl Shilton.

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