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."

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