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Common sense and pragmatism demand the decriminalisation of cannabis

WHEN your government renders it illegal for one to ingest a plant that apparently can be easily grown in one’s window-box we should question why that is; especially when the product in question was an addition to an act of Parliament created a century ago, the Dangerous Drugs Act, when prior to this cannabis had never before been raised as a topic for debate at Westminster. Despite its illegality I read that nine per cent of all adults admit to periodic use of cannabis with that percentage rising substantially in younger age groups; anyone with functioning nostrils must be aware of this.

Max Cruickshank (Letters, April 10) rightly raises the dangers related to the use of drugs; in England and Wales in 2017 cannabis was implicated in the deaths of 29 individuals; in the same year 218 people died of Paracetamol poisoning, Paracetamol they bought legally probably at their local supermarket. He also links money and profit with the drive to legalise cannabis in a climate where the illegal trade in drugs is reckoned to account for between one and five per cent of global GDP.

If there is a demand someone will satisfy it. Look what happened with tobacco and vapes. The industry has gradually morphed to meet demand and protect profits. The pharmaceutical industry has recently started to manufacture cannabis oil and sell it at a ridiculous price. You can guarantee it is champing at the bit to cash in on the market as soon as cannabis oil with THC is made legal and they can tap into an enormous market.

We live in a country where thousands die each year due to conditions stemming from chronic sugar intake and 26,610 out of 165,100 road-traffic serious casualties died last year. Compare that with the 29 cannabis-related deaths. Why are we fixated on cannabis, whether used on medical grounds or socially as an alternative to that other legal mass killer alcohol? What happened to personal choice and self-determination? Moreover when 20 per cent or more of young adults ignore the law and use cannabis habitually what happened to pragmatism and common sense?

MAX Cruickshank makes some surprising assumptions and predictions which do not appear to be supported by evidence.

There is no question that any drug whether prescribed or not may impact on a pre-existing mental health condition and probably one of the worst culprits is the legal drug alcohol. This would appear to be a logical explanation of Mr Cruickshank's experiences. However, to attempt to argue that this discredits the beneficial effects of cannabis on certain conditions is absurd. One need only look at the almost-instant relief Parkinson's sufferers experience upon using cannabis. The evidence is many and varied for many conditions and certainly shows that though not the universal panacea it should never have been criminalised and should not be withheld now.

It should be noted that hemp and its derivatives were banned due to misinformation spread by the pharmaceutical and steel industries in the United States. The former motivated because they could not patent what was a very effective drug and the latter because hemp was being used in vehicle body panels which threatened to replace steel.

I find Mr Cruickshank's final paragraph most concerning as he predicts "cannabis-driven deaths". Though I never took nor indeed wanted to take cannabis I have had many friends and acquaintances over the years who have, and not a single one experienced adverse effects. I also researched widely and could find no instances of solely cannabis-related deaths, which I cannot say for the legal drug alcohol.

The absurdity surrounding the billions wasted on the totally ineffectual "war on drugs" and the benefits of increased tax revenue for the legalised sale only go to prove how disingenuous the criminalisation of cannabis was and still is.

[source: / published: April 12. 2019]


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