Monday, 6 April 2015

When is skunk not skunk - the cannabis scare

Reefer madness has once again raised its ugly head in the UK.   Following a study on a limited number of mental health patients,it has been announced that 25% of them took strong varieties of cannabis.   That is 25% of those diagnosed with problems, itself a small percentage of people.

Of course there is no data on people with such problems that found help using cannabis and never had to go to a doctor or psychiatrist in the first place!

So the gutter press pick up on the report and in their usual way misrepresent the data to suggest that strong cannabis poses a significant risk to the general population, a greater risk than would weaker strains.

They also choose to perpetuate the "skunk" myth.

I don't know anyone that smokes skunk, it's just a particular strain isn't it?

Calling all strong varieties of cannabis "skunk" is like calling all vacuum cleaners "hoovers" or calling all ball-point pens "bics" - some may know what we mean but it is the sort of inaccuracy that experts and journalists ought to avoid

If supply was legalised, people would have choice and buy the strains most suitable to them, just as those that drink have choice of flavour, alcoholic content and brands. In the last ten years or so, in the UK and elsewhere, many growers have chosen big-return and powerful crops, the likes of Cheese, that contain high levels of THC but low CBD ratio. This seems not to suit some users that enjoy and benefit from varieties with a higher CBD ratio. Most buyers then do not have a choice and may buy "bud" not even knowing what it is at all - it smells, they call it skunk. 

That is no excuse whatsoever for those conducting studies and writing reports to make the same mistake - they are supposed to know better - was it really skunk those poor people smoked? I doubt it, even if they called it skunk.

On the other Colorado shops or Californian clinics, cannabis social clubs and cannabis clubs, Dutch coffeeshops - there is choice and there seems fewer claims of incidences of psychosis associated with cannabis - if they don't like it they buy something else.

And because the whole supply chain in the UK is illegal, there is no quality control, advice on THC: CBD ratio, no tax derived from profits and no lower age restrictions.

If indeed there is such a bad influence on mental health, albeit for a tiny percentage of the population, it is indeed a reason to legalise.

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