Sunday, 26 August 2012

Magistrate tells drug farmer: Cannabis killed my brother so jack it in

I feel I must comment on your article "Magistrate tells drug farmer: Cannabis killed my brother so jack it in" (August 24).

Whilst of course I agree with Magistrate Yvonne Davies when she says "“If I can stop one family going through what I went through it will be worth it.”, I feel she is wrong to blame the cannabis plant or use of it for the terrible ordeal her family went through leading to the death of her brother. It is prohibition that was the real cause.

It is indeed sad that her brother's mental health deteriorated after he used cannabis, but is there any evidence that it caused the problems? - He would of course have been well-advised not to consumed cannabis, especially the dreadful stuff sold on the streets under prohibition. The prohibition law leaves cannabis in the hands of often unscrupulous dealers and profiteers who care little or nothing about quality or contamination, and may often sell it alongside other drugs. Those dealers are hardly likely to offer such advice.

So what help was the law to Ms Davies' brother and we must remember that it was under prohibition that these events leading to his death occurred.

Prohibition helps nobody except the dealers - it results in the punishment of people that the law is really meant to protect, boosting profits for suppliers and leaving consumers exposed to the world of crime. Anyone suffering from bad effects of cannabis will of course be reluctant to seek help due to fear of arrest and prosecution.

Had he been drinking and developed problems, it is probable that he would have been helped - but with cannabis consumers seem to be thrown to the mercy of the courts not the help of doctors.

I would ask reader as well as Ms Davies, this: "If you discover a family member consuming drugs, what would you do, call a doctor or a policemen?"

Magistrate tells drug farmer: Cannabis killed my brother so jack it in
Manchester Evening News
Friday 24 Aug 2012

A magistrate revealed to a man she was sentencing for growing cannabis that addiction to the drug had led to the death of her own brother.
Chairman of the bench Yvonne Davies told defendant Christopher Duncan that the tragedy had been a 'horrendous' time for her family.
And – as she ordered him to do 200 hours of unpaid work – she warned: "Cannabis is serious, jack it in."
Duncan, 55, has been hauled before Manchester magistrates' court after pleading guilty to the production of cannabis.
Police found six mature plants and 18 seeding in the conservatory of his home in Harding Street, Ancoats.
Mrs Davies, a magistrate of 12 years’ standing, told him how her own brother, Glen Harding, had died aged 34 after becoming addicted to cannabis.
Mr Harding went on to develop schizophrenia and threw himself in a canal.
Mrs Davies told Duncan: "That was a horrendous time for the family. Cannabis is serious. It puddles the brain apart from anything else.
"You have got to stop using it so jack it in."
Mrs Davies, a part-time volunteer magistrate who also works as a mental health counsellor and psychotherapist, said after the case she had no regrets about speaking out.
And she revealed it wasn’t the first time she had used her family's experiences to warn a defendant of the dangers of cannabis use.
Mr Harding, who died in 1984, had been a successful technical engineer before falling prey to addiction.
He used cannabis for several years before developing schizophrenia, depression and epilepsy – losing his job in the process.
Following a row he stormed out one night with the family dog which came back soaking wet on its own several hours later. Glen's body was found in a canal 10 days later.
Mrs Davies, a grandmother-of-seven and great-gran of one who lives in Partington, said: "People say cannabis is not a big deal but to me it is enormous.
"When Glen's body was found 10 days after he disappeared, it had been a living hell for the family.
"When I tell people about happened, some look at me like I've got two heads but one woman defendant burst into tears.
"It's important to talk about it because I am a member of the community sentencing other members of the community.
"Cannabis ruins the lives of those who use it and their families.
"If I can stop one family going through what I went through it will be worth it."

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Leeds lawyer’s stark cannabis plea

This DEFINITELY needs responses - here is mine, simply register first and leave your comment to:

So does anyone think that this article or the words of a solicitor is likely to stop many from using cannabis, if any at all? 

It is very one-sided article and does not mention the COUNTLESS people with serious illnesses that already benefit from cannabis use in the UK, albeit illegal to possess or grow - and those that benefit from its value as a preventative medicine?

Not forgetting those  being damaged by addictive and dangerous pharmaceutical pills that could be better off using the medicinal plant - as they do in many other countries.

Surely it would be better to legalise the supply and let people grow their own - less profit fro the solicitors of course and less work for them and the police and courts - greater savings to the NHS and taxpayers - greater protection for consumers.

OF COURSE no young people should not take cannabis especially when bought on the streets - but TRUTH is that the law seems powerless to stop them.

Published on Wednesday 15 August 2012 11:29
Leeds solicitor Grahame Stowe has been involved with mental health tribunals for 24 years. During that time he says he has seen countless cases of lives that have been permanently damaged as a result of cannabis use. He told crime reporter Sam Casey why he believes the drug is being taken too lightly.
When it comes to the debate on cannabis, Grahame Stowe is unequivocal.
“Cannabis has this evil streak for bringing on mental illness,” he says.
“Rarely does a week go by when I don’t see a case of pyschosis that has been induced by the drug.”
The Leeds lawyer – senior partner at Grahame Stowe Bateson, based on Portland Street in the city centre – has chaired mental health tribunals for 24 years.
The hearings are carried out to review cases of patients detained under the Mental Health Act.
Mr Stowe told the YEP he was seeing worrying numbers of young lives wrecked by cannabis.
“It’s something that hasn’t suddenly sprung up, but it has been underplayed for too long,” he said.
“The problems with heroin and crack cocaine are that they are addictive and they destroy lives because of their addictive potential.
“Cannabis is less addictive but it is dangerous because of the impact it can have on your mental health.”
According to the last British Crime Survey (2010-11), 7.7 per cent of 16 to 59-year-olds in Yorkshire reported having used cannabis in the past year – the highest figure of any region in the country.
One in three people in the county said they thought it was ‘OK’ to take cannabis, at least occasionally.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists says about one in 10 cannabis users will have unpleasant experiences, including confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia.
It says there is growing evidence that people with serious mental illness, including depression and psychosis, are more likely to use cannabis or have used it for long periods in the past.
Regular use of the drug has appeared to double the risk of developing a psychotic episode or long-term schizophrenia, the Royal College says.
Mr Stowe said he had seen tragic cases of bright and capable people whose lives had been ruined.
“I have seen the most gifted students admitted to psychiatric hospitals under the compulsory detention powers of the Mental Health Act. The most promising futures can be irrevocably destroyed.
“In some cases it can be a one-off – they are detained for, say, 28 days, then they go back to their careers, they’ve learned their lesson and they get on with their lives.
“But if it’s repeated foolishness it can lead to great problems. In cases that are not uncommon it can cause schizophrenia, which is a lifetime sentence.
“I recall one guy who was an Oxbridge student, but he fell foul of cannabis and developed schizophrenia.
“You just think, what a terrible waste. It’s not just a stimulant, it’s not something to enhance a social occasion – it can very easily ruin your life irreparably.”
Mr Stowe’s experiences are substantiated by consultant psychiatrist Stephen Wright, who is employed by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
He works with the early intervention team at Leeds-based Aspire, a mental health service that supports young people exhibiting signs of psychosis.
Dr Wright said cannabis was often a factor, especially in young people.
“It’s important to be clear – not everybody who smokes it develops psychosis,” he said.
“If there was no such thing as cannabis, the number of cases of psychosis worldwide would probably only decrease by 10 to 15 per cent.
“But we see people every day for whom cannabis is a factor to a greater or lesser degree.
“A large proportion of our clients are using or have used cannabis.”
Dr Wright said there was growing evidence young people were more susceptible to the effects of the drug – and that the harmful potential of street cannabis was growing because its potency was increasing.
“We routinely ask when our clients started using cannabis. It’s very common that people start at 14 or 15.
“If kids take it during puberty it can have a disastrous effect on brain development.
“The age of the user is quite a key factor – the earlier they start, the more likely it is to cause psychosis.
“There is also evidence that the THC content [the primary psycho-active compound in cannabis] is growing.
“The danger is it’s become more like whisky than beer.”
Caroline MacKay, chief executive of Leeds addiction support charity Multiple Choice, said one in nine of the people who attended structured day programmes designed to help people recover from addiction cited cannabis as their primary problem drug.
She said: “There are some people who are predisposed to mental health problems who may be affected by heavy cannabis use.
“There’s no doubt we have seen people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia or psychosis because of it.”
Ms McKay said she was in favour of decriminalising cannabis for medicinal uses.
She is not the only one.