by Peter Hurst
Monday, 10
May 2021
Debate
07:00

Stop denying that cannabis is harmful

Despite the predictable backlash, an Irish awareness campaign was right
by Peter Hurst
Credit: Getty

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, the professional body for psychiatrists in the Republic of Ireland, recently launched an information campaign across various media platforms. It was part of an effort to raise awareness about the harms of cannabis use, with a particular emphasis upon the harms associated with cannabis use among young people. Predictably, the College faced a backlash from activists who wish to see cannabis legalised, and who believe that the College is involved in fomenting a reefer madness-style moral panic about a drug which they view as potentially therapeutic.

The college makes two main claims. The first is that cannabis use is potentially harmful, especially among young people. This should not be seen as particularly controversial. There is ample research to show that cannabis use is linked to psychiatric problems including self-harm, suicide, and psychosis. Moreover, the evidence available indicates that the younger the user and more frequent the usage, the more harmful cannabis use can be.

The college also claims that the public conversation around cannabis use minimises and obscures those risks. This is harder to substantiate, but also, I think, true. Speaking from my own experience as a psychiatric nurse, I can vouch for the frustration that is felt on the part of the College of Psychiatrists. The link between cannabis use and mental illness is no secret among us mental health professionals. We have all watched successful professionals become homeless schizophrenics — a process often fuelled by cannabis abuse. Disseminating that knowledge to the public in the face of a culture which consistently promotes the idea that cannabis is not only harmless but also therapeutic is extremely challenging.

Serious and enduring mental illness still remains shrouded in mystery for most people, despite relentless awareness campaigns about “mental health”. The ambient normalisation of substance use in the wider culture makes the job of explaining the link between these types of illnesses and cannabis use that much harder.

That’s why I would like to see more mental health professionals combining their experience with their professional knowledge of the most up-to-date clinical research to challenge the normalisation of cannabis use (and the corollary minimisation of its harms). The public needs to be warned about the potential dangers related to any move to legalise cannabis for recreational use (and the likely commercialisation of this new consumer product), before it’s too late.

Peter Hurst is a psychiatric nurse and political blogger based in Liverpool. He tweets @Post_Liberal

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Bill Blake
Bill Blake
1 year ago

This is an extremely helpful article… So many people use the argument that ‘its just a harmless recreational drug’ and of course there are those who want it legalised for it’s financial potential. But psychosis and memory issues are very real and need careful consideration. Similarly the question of individual responsibility and the right to decide for yourself… Unfortunately it’s seems the least well equipped to make such decisions due to age etc drift into it very easily.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Blake

Some people always seem to need something to anaethetize themselves from life – the Victorians used Laudenum. As we are generally free from the pain & poverty of those days what are some people trying to escape?

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Themselves, probably.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Authoritarians like you.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

I think its sad if people’s lives are ruined by drugs-but it doesn’t affect me personally. People used to be on certain doctors lists to get their prescription, which they then took to certain chemists-at that time there were only a few thousand registered people. Since then there must be millions using drugs and the number of crimes linked to it, murder , theft has escalated.If you think thats a price worth paying , thats up to you.

rawshark65
rawshark65
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

No, it’s up to all of us, prohibition affects the whole of society with it’s gangsterism and disorder.
For whom the bell tolls and all that.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Where we live, in rural Washington State, about 20% of our county rescue squad calls are for overdoses, typically meth or heroin. I have a friend in law enforcement, and he tells me that at least three-quarters of the breakins and other crimes here are drug-related.

So it’s not just your own personal use that affects you personally. Even though I grew MJ for strictly personal use (severe insomnia), I respect the other side of this. As it concerns narcotics, I regard the dealers as vampires and the users as zombies.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

They are possibly trying to escape the pain and poverty of these days.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

It used to be trendy to smoke , but only on special occasions ( or as some people said they just inhaled).More serious drugs were something pop stars took. This has escalated to a major problem , but the people I see are the delivery boys leaving the council estate and taking their goods to the expensive houses. Perhaps its to go with the wine? Ever wondered why rich people in cities live so close to poor people?

jamesgarethmorgan
jamesgarethmorgan
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

What are some people trying to escape? Were you ‘trying to escape’ when you wrote that comment? Do we not all ‘escape’ by watching TV or going to the pub? You tell me.

Last edited 1 year ago by jamesgarethmorgan
kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago

Except that those are temporary escapes which we all factor in as something to look forward to. They don’t make us act in the way Peter Hitchens has listed as caused by smoking. There are obviously dangerous side effects to drinking & they are linked with crime but noone thinks its ‘cool’ to drink too much.Other escapes such as over-eating affect our health , but I don’t think people get violent because they ate too many cream buns?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

“the Victorians used Laudenum.”

No, NO, NO, they did not – very few indeed, it was almost unherd of excepting a very few. It was available but not widely abused.

Legal marajuana will be HUGELY ABUSED! Also, marajuana makes people very violent if they are the sort who are violent.

In Africa the worst of the worst psychopaths were usually stoned on it, in South of the border great amounts of violence are from high people, as is true in violent Groups in the West. Gangs in New York are often high when killing – it makes the violent violent.

You silly rabbits – the 1960’s middle class hippy did not get violent because he was not – but this is not true of others!

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I have not seen any reliable link between marijuana use and violence.

Corrie Mooney
Corrie Mooney
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Ennui

Paul Hunt
Paul Hunt
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Are you being sarcastic? Glad you sound like you’re doing great, but really? Every C18 person had it bad and we all have it great? We have penicillin and Facebook so why would anyone be sad? Firstly, the only drug most Victorians could afford was bathtub gin and whiskey, and second to invert your misinformed judgemental syllogism, what did Percy Byss Shelly and Anna Karenin have to escape from while pounding the Laudinum in their castles?

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Hunt
Dave H
Dave H
1 year ago

Sure there are harms.
The question is though, does keeping it illegal do more harm than legalising, and that seems to be a resounding yes.
For all the harms mentioned, criminalising those that choose to use a drug which is decidedly less risky than alcohol and certainly far less lethal, has always been perverse.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave H
kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave H

The argument against de-criminalising is that the criminals will still want to make a profit and move onto something else. I think in America they have a serious fentalyl problem , so though Granny can get her stuff to help her pain, her grandson is also getting his,with lethal consequences.

Dave H
Dave H
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

I don’t think keeping criminals employed doing something only part-way harmful is in any way a good argument for keeping something illegal.
The criminals can move wherever they like, there is no other market for them to move to that has so many willing, complicit consumers. I also don’t know that in places where legalisation has happened any knock-on gang effects have actually occurred.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

DECRIMINALIZE MURDER FOR THE SAME REASON! BE A GOOD LIBERAL AND MAKE ALL CRIME THE FAULT OF THE VICTIM.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Think of the poor criminal do you want to see them unemployed? No my argument was based on Holland where certain cafes are legalized & it was spoken about as very civilized. However it turns out there is a massive crime-ring running from Paris to Amsterdam purely to cater for the drug tourists-thats what the police say anyway.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave H

A Pothead is a useless person, a useless life. Potheads smoke early during the normal day, that defines them, They are bad at work, their brain is useless, they are wasters.

Marajuana causes vast amounts of violance! HUGE amounts of people arrested for violence have THC in their system – in the third world the worst thugs are stoned! The 1960’s hippy was not violent so pot got the reputation of not being so – BUT it is – it makes the violent violent!

It Causes LOTS of mental ilness in the Young!

It demotivates and makes people wasters.

IT IS THE GATEWAY DRUG TO ALL THE BAD ONES! 100% OF THE TIME EVERY DRUG ADDICT BEGAN ON MARIJUANA!

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Great satire!

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Please present any evidence that “huge amounts of people arrested for violence have THC in their system.” I think you made it up, but I can be persuaded otherwise with evidence.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jake Jackson
John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

All of the people who went on to harder drugs also drank milk. Maybe it’s milk that causes addiction to heroin…

Of course it doesn’t. But my argument is identical to yours. It’s based on confusing correlation with causation. Pot use doesn’t “cause anyone to go on to use other drugs. What does happen is that people who buy illegal drugs have to get them from dealers, who also sell hard drug’s. Cut that connection by making pot legal, and the rate of heroin use decreases.

And that’s not an opinion. That’s empirically demonstrable if you just look at the evidence from the Netherlands and Portugal.

pm4r28q268
pm4r28q268
1 year ago

I was a heavy cannabis user in my teens and quit around the age of 20. Quitting wasn’t planned but I just wasn’t around any. Within a month, I realized that no, the world wasn’t such a terrible place and I was much happier in it. After that I never smoked again except for the rare occasion (and those were always terrible).
I wish all drugs were legalized. But I also wish there was serious information available to everybody about the real dangers of each.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  pm4r28q268

I wish the crack cocaine, meth, heroin, fental, and PCB store will be next door to your house if they legalize. Think of all the great people you will meet as you try to get past them shooting up on your door step. You could post a note of the dangers of drugs on your door to help them make good decisions.

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Legalization of hard drugs would be done through doctors supplying pure drugs to registered users. That was tried in Manchester years ago, and resulted in lower crime rates, a decrease in HIV and hepatitis, and lower rates of overdoses.

David Froster
David Froster
1 year ago

The problem with these sort of articles is they often (as in this case) treat cannabis use as inherently harmful without considering dosage/strength. You could write the same sort of article about alchohol – the consumption of which is extremely harmful if you regularly knock back half pints of gin – less so if it’s half pints of stout. Unfortunately commercially-available cannabis has massively increased in strength over the years – to the point where it probably does constitute a danger to mental health to some. But the homegrown back-garden variety is no more dangerous to most folks than the odd glass of stout.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
1 year ago
Reply to  David Froster

“But the homegrown back-garden variety is no more dangerous to most folks than the odd glass of stout.”

Are you scientifically and medically qualified? If, not, you can’t possibly know this. Every advocate for legalising cannabis is a voluntary user. Self-justifying argument.
And the problem with alcohol was long recognised, hence the barrage of regulation round it. Those regulations were weakened by the left some years ago to help buy the youth vote, but should be re-introduced.

Last edited 1 year ago by Arnold Grutt
David Froster
David Froster
1 year ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

I’m not claiming that cannabis does no harm – what I said is that low strength cannabis is equivalent to a mild quantity of alcohol – which we know to be harmful. There are numerous studies. My view is that if you want to address the mental health problem with high-strength cannabis, then the supply and production needs to be regulated in exactly the same manner as alcohol (with the same attendant health education). The alternative is prohibition – and we know how well that works.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  David Froster

You made the laughable claim that cannabis grown in the backyard is weak. There is absolutely NO basis for that ridiculous statement.

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
1 year ago
Reply to  David Froster

I don’t think it’s entirely clear that the strength of the drug is the main thing that triggers mental health issues in young people. Although as I understand it, there is some thought that it may be that some of the other chemical changes in the plants due to breeding over the years may make it such problems more likely with the newer strains.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago

The only thing that stronger MJ really does is reduce the need to use so much. It’s really no different than 100-proof malt vs. 30-proof wine.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Every advocate for legalising cannabis is a voluntary user.
That is patently false. I don’t have to use something to recognize that banning it does not prevent its use. It simply makes that use more dangerous and more expensive. This idea that our betters can regulate everything in life to protect us from ourselves is the worst kind of appeal to authority.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Legalize EVERYTHING less harmful than being a raging alcoholic? Because we need a great more problems like alcohol, right?

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  David Froster

You really don’t know what you’re talking about. But this is the internet, a perfect place for people who don’t know what they are talking about. Tell me: Why do you imagine that pot grown in the back yard is weaker than what’s in the stores? Seriously: Do you even know how easy it is to grow, and what’s responsible for the THC content? Of course not.

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

That’s because big pot producers have been cultivating stronger and stronger varieties. In the 1960’s, pot was around 5% THC. Now it’s closer to 20%.
It’s you how doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

It’s me who grows it, and who will forget more than you will ever know. Not just about today’s MJ, but about yesterday’s.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

A lot of things are harmful, especially if they are overused. The drug war is particularly harmful to people in minority communities where the business has left behind a trail of innocent bodies.
We have all watched successful professionals become homeless schizophrenics — a process often fuelled by cannabis abuse. We’ve ALL seen it? Really? I’ve never known or heard of anyone spiraling out of control over weed. Other drugs maybe, but there is usually some underlying issue that the drugs make worse.

Toby Josh
Toby Josh
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Unless you are among the group of mental health professionals that the author refers to (in the sentence before the one that you have quoted), then he is not suggesting that you have watched anything.

Eloise Burke
Eloise Burke
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I suppose there have been successful professionals who became homeless schizophrenics – I take this on faith, I’ve never seen or heard of one myself – and the poor devils may have smoked pot along the way. But it is far-fetched indeed to assume the pot-smoking caused the downfall. Do you have any evidence of this?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

White people making minorities destroy their communities by drugs? I think you need to get out and protest that.

Craig Bishop
Craig Bishop
1 year ago

When I was having some insomnia issues, I went to see the top sleep specialist in Cape Town. One of the things she wanted to know was whether I used cannabis or not. She was of the opinion that enough research had been done to demonstrate a link between long-tern usage and sleep pattern disruption. It’s an issue that one hardly ever hears or reads about. The problem is, by definition it will only affect long-term users, many of whom might have developed sleep issues separately, such as due to overweight, caffeine intake, stress, apnea blockages, and so on. Food for munchies. I mean thought.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  Craig Bishop

Funny you should mention that. Elsewhere in this thread, I “outed” myself as a backyard grower. I don’t like to get high; it makes me anxious. I use MJ for one reason alone: Severe, chronic insomnia as a result of multiple sclerosis.

I put up with the psychoactive side, selecting the “indica” varieties because there’s less of that. I make my MJ into cannabutter, and use it in a standard cookie recipe in place of ordinary butter. My cookies are really strong, and I like to joke that one of them turns me into the steer that just got the hammer. Plop!

Incidentally, I don’t sell anything, and will give cookies only to adults who promise not to let young people anywhere near them. I am a MJ user who thinks MJ and kids do not mix. Commenters would be surprised by how many people in MJ shops over here think the same way.

David Platzer
David Platzer
1 year ago

Cannabis is awful stuff.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  David Platzer

Stupid sheep feel it is a government function to facilitate vice.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

I’d like to think that there is a sensible majority who understand that therapeutic things can also be harmful, and harmful things can also be therapeutic.
Unfortunately there seems to be considerable overlap between those who wish to ban everything chemical, agricultural or industrial that has the slightest possibility of harm, regardless of benefits and those who think that legalisation of recreational drugs will solve all related problems from street crime to psychiatric trauma.

David Simpson
David Simpson
1 year ago

I think we should ban motor cars. They kill people, destroy the environment and seem to make some people very angry. And they’re very noisy.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Unfortunately I’m not getting many takers for my petition to ban fossil-fuelled emergency vehicles from rescuing greenies. I thought it would be brave and stunning of them to sign.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

You first. When can I pick up my car?

Peter LR
Peter LR
1 year ago

Thanks. I despair that we are bombarded with propaganda in activist issues and not a choice of facts.
Why is the fact that cannabis use normally involves smoking not also a serious consideration: after all, every cigarette packet says “smoking kills”!

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter LR
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter LR

If someone smoked even remotely as much MJ as the typical tobacco smoker consumes, there’d be a hazard from the smoke.

arthur brogard
arthur brogard
1 year ago

Yep, there we go again. Prohibitionists ready to prohibit, universaliy, without recourse, at the drop of a rumour or an opinion, an anecdote, a feeling.
But will not de-prohibit, allow, even in exceptional and isolated instances, anything at all without ‘rigorous peer reviewed double blind trials’.
As is clearly demonstrated today with the covid thing it is they are the major and principal and perhaps even the only evil, danger, bad thing.
The fact is that certain people have certain propensities.
And it is certain that adopting this or that ‘diet’ is a manifestation of these propensities.
And if that diet should propel one the more quickly to a bad end it doesn’t follow that the diet was the cause.
The choice was the cause.
Hence it is not alcohol that kills, nor sugar, nor food, nor even bullets or fast drving, but the mind set that chooses to follow one of those paths to excess.
People who seek to find demons outside of the human psyche are in fact witch doctors practicing – seeking to practice – a black magic and enforce their will on all others.
And of course, in this horribly insane world, they succeed, always have, always will probably, as contemporary events dramatically show.

Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  arthur brogard

We are not starting from a neutral position on prohibition. Since the stuff is already prohibited, you need to make a good case for change. If it were legal, then those demanding proscription would have the burden of proof.

Michael James
Michael James
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

The case for legalisation is a classic one of removing a restriction on liberty that doesn’t prevent harm to the public and may increase harm to the public via the unintended effects of prohibition. It may harm the user of cannabis but that in itself is no argument for prohibition.

Dave H
Dave H
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

you need to make a good case for change

Actually I would say that where there are criminal penalties involved, i.e. the state stepping in and removing freedoms, you need to be able to continue to articulate a solid case to keep such penalties in place.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave H
kathleen carr
kathleen carr
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

One major reason the authorities have basically de-criminalised it anyway is because though they don’t care if Liam & Leanne of Bash Street Comp get a criminal record , they definitely will if their Ptolemy & Petunia do.

Frank Freeman
Frank Freeman
1 year ago

Recreational drug use, like prostitution, porn, homosexuality, religion and alcohol are things that someone will always disapprove of, and that societies have tried to ban.
Banning them never works, and almost always causes more harm. The exception is alcohol prohibition in the US. Alcohol related diseases dropped dramatically! While some people died in gang wars, these people were players in a game and for every on gun down in ST valentines day massacres, many more made a good living, and some got very rich.
People love to talk about the dangers of “Skunk” yet it is entirely a product of it being criminalized. If we were able to access proper cannabis resin from Morocco and Afghanistan there would be no market for skunk, and these countries would have a legitimate cash export, something that could bring peace to Afghanistan.
Alcohol causes a lot of damage both in diseases and in social violence, where as people rarely start fights after smoking cannabis, unless they are also drinking, yet no one is talking about banning alcohol!

Last edited 1 year ago by Frank Freeman
Paul N
Paul N
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

No one? I remember an old guy driving around with a trailer that said: “Make Alcohol History”. He also disliked Christmas.
Yes, the social problems caused by Alcohol seem worse than from Cannabis – but is that at all due to the scale of (legalised) alcohol consumption, or the “invisible” nature of the mental health issues from Cannabis?
Better information on the harms caused (from whichever drug) is surely a good thing, whether to inform debate on legalisation (or prohibition or control), or to inform people’s choices.

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul N

Millions of people have been smoking pot in countries around the world.

So far, there have been almost no problems associated with its use, except among a very small minority who typically have a genetic predisposition to psychosis. Otherwise, most of the claims of those who object to legalization are based on myths long since debunked.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

Oh for the good old days of legal opium in china where addicts were everywhere and you could buy a girl forced into prostitution cheap. Lets us return to that.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Freeman

“people rarely start fights after smoking cannabis”
Simply not true.

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Based on what evidence?

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

Based on evidence you would dismiss no matter what.

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago

The research shows that marijuana use create psychosis only in a few people who are already predisposed to it., not just anyone who uses the drug. The claims made in this article are extremely overblown. Canada legalized pot two years ago against the advice of conservatives who claimed that it would increase car accidents as well as psychiatric illness. None of the dire events predicted has occurred.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

In that sense, MJ is similar to alcohol in that it typically takes a few decades for an alcoholic to progress to the third stage that’s characterized by liver failure and brain damage.

As the spouse of someone who drank himself to death, I am familiar with the frustration. I’d tell my other half that all that vodka would be lethal, but time appeared to make a liar out of me. The reality was different: I was simply more far-sighted, having been educated about alcoholism in secondary school.

Marijuana doesn’t instantly exacerbate underlying mental problems. It takes time, and because MJ’s negative effects are in the realm of mental illness, which is hard to define early on, those effects can easily be missed.

No one who thinks that MJ ought to be legal but also realizes that it’s not a benign substance thinks that two years is long enough to determine the effects. That said, there are multiple studies out of Holland that clearly show the negatives, especially among younger people who are heavy users.

It is flatly dishonest to claim otherwise.

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

People have used pot for several thousand years. 50 years ago the Ledain Commission investigated all illicit drugs, and concluded that the deleterious effects of pot were far less than alcohol, tobacco, heroin, … in fact, they recommended that it be legalized.
It wasn’t, but millions of people continued to use it, and discovered that they could get an education, hold a job, pay their bills, and remain quite healthy. They figured out that the bad reputation of pot was mostly propaganda from ignorant people.

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

There have been more people admitted to the ER for cannabis syndrome, as well as more poisonings of kids and pets. It’s also the case that more drivers who crash in Canada now test positive for drugs rather than booze. There haven’t been many headlines about it but people working in related health services find it worrying.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago

I would expect all of that.

Hal Lives
Hal Lives
1 year ago

“We have all watched successful professionals become homeless schizophrenics, a process often fuelled by cannabis abuse.”
So what, exactly, is considered “abuse;” a couple of spliffs a day, a 1/2lb baggie? Apparently we don’t need to know.  
I lived and worked for over 10yrs in SoCal and knew someone who smoked every day for the better part of 15yrs for pain relief; she’d been in a horrific car accident and had a neck full of plates and screws which were intensely painful when she lay down to sleep.
The docs had put her on opioid pain killers which she would take before going to bed, and when she started recognizing the signs of addiction in herself she asked around for alternatives; numerous friends and even a doc suggested weed.
Obviously these days in California she doesn’t have to buy on the streets as she has legal access to the medical grade stuff; she works a demanding full-time job in the legal profession as a PA, and didn’t become a statistic of the US’s insanely destructive opioid epidemic.
Just my 2¢’s worth.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  Hal Lives

There is no such thing as “medical grade” marijuana.

Hal Lives
Hal Lives
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

I was being somewhat facetious and saying that what she now has access to is pure, unadulterated, and pretty potent, unlike the “product” she would buy years ago.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago

Too right. Cannabis makes you bored, angry, boring, depressed, apathetic, boring, lazy, slow, boring, boring, unambitious, useless, irritating, boring, unemployable, boring, and boring. It also exacerbates high blood pressure and gum disease, as well as making you boring.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

And violent – the fact a huge numbers of violent crime had THC in the criminal’s bloodstream is never mentioned. It makes the criminal habitual pot head more violent. If predesposed to violence pot makes you more so.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

“New research published online in advance of print in the journal Psychological Medicine concludes that persistent use of cannabis may cause violent behavior as a result of changes in brain function due to smoking weed over many years.”

to the down voter of my comment above. Having been on the darker side of things I have seen it.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes, you’re right. cannabis makes you boringly violent and boring.

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

No it doesn’t.

None of these claims are true, except the possibility that pot can raise blood pressure.

Otherwise, this sounds like the ludicrous claims made in Reefer Madness, the laughable propaganda film made in the 1930’s that depicted marijuana smokers as psychotic.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

Unlike you, unfortunately I have a very good idea what I am talking about.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I would add that it makes you boring.
Why I never felt the attraction as much as my peers.
Maybe I was already boring.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
1 year ago

Maybe it is harmful, but I bet it’s a lot less harmful than Facebook.
Why not ban that instead?

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
1 year ago

It’s been an interesting trajectory wathing efforts to have cannabis legalised, or what has happened where the law allows it.
Many of the arguments for legalisation or decriminalisation were around it being expensive and ineffective to control, and that it’s harms weren’t greater than things like alcohol or tobacco which we allow people to make personal choices about, and that it was silly to disallow it for therapeutic use or make research into such use difficult, when we use far more powerful and dangerous drugs therapeutically every day. Even to someone inclined to be skeptical these are not unreasonable points at all.
What seems to have happened, however, is that as it is being legalised or campaigners push for changes, the rhetoric now is required to be wholly positive. Pseudo-scientific claims about it’s efficacy are all over the place while the dangers of something seemingly so chemically active are denied utterly.
Legalisation seems to be taken, not just as personal freedom to do something that could have risks or be unwise, but as a statement that it is sanctioned and healthy. And everyone must agree with this or else they are somehow judging the choices of others which the law allows them to make in order to self-actualise.

a b
a b
1 year ago

Contra Toby Young, Peter Hitchen et al, the Law does NOT exist to protect people from themselves.
If one believes JS Mills, Jeremy Bentham et al to be correct, the only function of law is to protect society from the actions of miscreants.
People are free to go to hell in their own way – so long as I do not have to pay for their ticket which is the case with drug prohibition laws.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Given the nature of his ‘reshuffle’ it seems likely that Keir Starmer has been smoking some of this stuff recently.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
1 year ago

It is a pitty that young people are rubbed into believing marijuana is “cool”. The priming for heavier drugs is obvious for anyone that understands just how vulnerable youngsters are.
I persuaded my 18 year old son with a dark, simple point: “Yep son, ugly as it sounds, you should consider that each of your school acquaintances frying their neurons and getting “high” for “fun” is one less competitor for you in the already murderously competitive race for a meaningful education, solid job and reliable self-esteem”. Worked like a charm. But yeah, let every parent decide what parental advice should be dispensed…

Dave H
Dave H
1 year ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

Perhaps if we took away its naughty, illegal cachet, and stopped actually associating it with ‘heavier drugs’ then that effect might be rendered moot.
I hope you told your son to avoid wine and beer too, ethanol will kill neurons unbelievably fast, and has a habit of killing its users too.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave H

100% of the time Marijuana is the ‘Gateway Drg’ of the bad ones. (And I have been in the world of drugs a great deal)

Dave H
Dave H
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

100% of the time people have a beer first.

See, I can make bland assertions too.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave H

So does lying…

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago

TOO. BLOODY. RIGHT.

Daniel Forrest
Daniel Forrest
1 year ago

Very interesting, I’m torn on the question myself as although it is harmful, if that is the bar for something being banned then surely alcohol and cigarettes should go too? Personally I just think its down to personal liberty.

Toby Josh
Toby Josh
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Forrest

There is a difference between banning things that are already legal, and legalising that which was forbidden. This point has already been made earlier, but I repeat for your ease of reference.
Cigarette smoking is being driven ever further out of public life.

Dave H
Dave H
1 year ago
Reply to  Toby Josh

There is a difference between banning things that are already legal, and legalising that which was forbidden.

This is something of a fallacy really, a fallacy of inaction.
Where criminal law is concerned, one should be able to justify the ongoing application of life-ruining sanctions against individuals by the state. If one cannot, change should be the default.

Toby Josh
Toby Josh
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave H

I beg to differ. This is not a fallacy. There is a difference between the two circumstances I describe. An appeal to (English?) criminal law is a non sequitur, though.

Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
Meghan Kathleen Jamieson
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Forrest

If tobacco wasn’t already legal I suspect t would never be approved.
Alcohol is a little different though, as it’s not only a drug, it’s also food, and properly speaking it’s meant to be consumed as food. If you take your grapes or apples and crush them so you can save the calories and nutrients longer, what you get is alcohol. Even hard liquor is a ay to store grains long term an in a small package.
Part of what allows the large scale abuse of powerful alcohol is that it’s now produced industrially, and for cheap prices as all food is now relative to the past.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
1 year ago

Absolute rubbish.
First, let me say that I don’t use cannabis… I’ve tried it.. didn’t like it.
Secondly, I have a family friend who smoked cannabis from his teens, developed schizophrenia, became homeless and died of a gunshot wound to the head by age 30. So why do I think the article is rubbish bearing this in mind? Because there are just as many schizophrenics who self-medicate with alcohol but we never blame their disorder on drinking. Our streets are full of them. Care in the community I think it’s called? Furthermore, there was a history of mental illness in his family and he was strange before he started using.
Thirdly, the vast majority of my friends during my teens and twenties were regular users…. they used every day. All of them held / hold down full time jobs and suffered no adverse effects.
Fourthly, I have suffered violence and a great deal of misery from the most destructive of all drugs, alcohol, and yet no one says a word! None of my cannabis using friends were ever violent or had car crashes under the influence.
So in conclusion, Just because there is a correlation between cannabis use and mental illness doesn’t make it causal. Many of these people are self-medicating. Cannabis isn’t the problem, mental health care is. Cannabis has amazing therapeutic properties, but will never make the pharmaceutical companies a penny as it can’t be patented, and could probably lose them a lot of money by replacing a lot of their patented drugs . That’s why will see a lot of money dedicated to false articles like this to keep the public frightened of cannabis, whilst ignoring it’s therapeutic benefits and ignoring the big killer: alcohol.

Colin Cook
Colin Cook
1 year ago

It depends what the writer means by “cannabis”. The source material is quite varied in composition, and contains a number of cannabinoids. The proportion of each cannabinoid has been altered by genetic selection, mainly to increase the proportion of tetrahydrocannabinol. The reason for this having been done appears obscure. “Skunk” marijuana is by no means a better smoke and causes severe intoxication. Milder forms of marijuana induce feelings of peace, which is an especially helpful state for people of an anxious disposition. Cannabis, therefore, should be legalised and regulated so that whatever grade it is can be recognised and used to its maximum benefit.
Also, it is my body and I will do what I like with it, so long as I am not harming someone else. Don’t presume to control others’ lives. But do warn the unwary to be careful what they are using and to understand the effects and possible harms. An adult person can then make their own mind up. Repression just hands power to the criminals.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
1 year ago

As a Canadian doc who has been intimately involved with this issue over the years, I can say that marijuana is far from the harmless bit of fun many purport it to be.
During one shift last Christmas, we had 4 marijuana-induced vomiting patients upchucking in the 4 corners of our 30 bed ER. Happy Holidays! was my thought.
Marijuana in 1980 was ~1-2% THC. Now it’s routinely over 20%. This is not a mild drug anymore.
And don’t even get me started on its relationship to psychosis. I have seen many young people (and more than a few older ones) go mentally completely off the rails after starting marijuana, having previously been very functional humans. And many never seem to regain mental stability even after quitting.
All that said, I’m not a prude who thinks that an occasional puff will kill you. I just hate the idea that it’s benign.
In my province, surveys have show more high school seniors now smoke marijuana daily than smoke tobacco daily.
I’ve heard people say “it’s n worse than alcohol”. I disagree in the first place, but even if one was to concede that point, if someone had the same alcohol usage pattern as many marijuana users have (using marijuana several times every day), we would consider them alcoholic, and if he were a friend or family member we would take him aside, look him in the eye, and tell him he has a problem.

Kristof K
Kristof K
1 year ago

Headline would be punchier (and a bit easier to understand) if re-written “Stop claiming that cannabis is harmless”?

David Foot
David Foot
1 year ago

I totally agree with the author. In my view any drug which bends the will of the person taking it is essentially a bad thing, can have unforseeable consequences and if its use can’t be controlled then the user needs medical help in different ways.
Personally I have never felt a desire to “experiment” and other than alcohol and the occasional puff at school of tobacco that was it. I was lucky and I know it. I have seen a fantastic family member fall with the use of cocaine, this was so sad for me to hear of.
So that is my experience, I can also see that this trade has another effect on society, these products are in great demand and have been so over a century, the “war on drugs” was started and was lost in 1914 but it created a market that wasn’t there with those attending the market and a new police force, a resource intensive need which we have invented for ourselves and which doesn’t work.
Before that HM Queen Victoria had been partial to a bit of heroine and you could purchase drugs at the chemist, manufactured and supervised by the laws of the time.
Breaking with this what the State has done is to tell us that we can’t consume this or that because “it is illegal” to have a “class A or whatever” drug and it is even worse to sell these. This is the Achilles heel of the drugs policy: Who is the State to tell me that I can or can’t consume a product?
This is why the law before 1914 was the best outcome, and some of the consequences were dealt with by the police and the health service, but now after 1914 there is an entire new police force created for this, and the policy has failed.
The best example of prohibition failure was with Alcohol in USA in the early XX century, the money created fuelled crime but not to the extent of today, where we have armies, navies, air forces, submarines and even entire states being controlled by the drug manufacturing industry, these poor countries never stood a chance, the criminals can get better weapons, pay better wages all because we made drugs “illegal” and chose to start a “war on drugs”, we created a new market and all that comes with it.
These products will be consumed so let us make sure that they are responsibly manufactured and available at chemists, with warnings etc. also taxed. We must not force kids to consume products manufactured by criminals, nor make criminals wealthy out of this illegal market which our insaneness has fabricated.
The health service should deal with health problems which no longer will need to be hidden and the police should be freed up to deal with proper crime and not “created crime”. I am sure, like with USA of the 1920s we will find that if the drugs are taxed this money which used to go to criminals will help with the consequences of drug use, and there will be a lot of free police time all of a sudden.
And of course, all use of drugs not for medical purposes should be suspect. Those buying them could be coached towards the health service which should get involved to help with this. Drugs are bad. The war on drugs has been lost, let us stop pretending.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  David Foot

May I interrupt for a pragmatic, experience-based view? It is this: There is a major Achilles Heel on the tax and regulation front, the home grower. Unlike most commenters I know a lot about it, because I am one of those home growers.

Cigarettes are a highly engineered product whose base ingredient is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to grow, much less blend and modify. There is no practical homemade substitute. You can brew beer yourself — I’ve done that — but there’s no point unless you make 5 gallons. Really, who wants to make, bottle, and store 50 bottles?

Wine? Yeah, people do make it, and Aunt Minnie’s wine usually sucks. And liquor? As a Manhattan-swilling dog, I can confidently say that I won’t be making my own rye anytime soon. My point is that cigs and alcohol, by their nature as products, are hard for an individual to produce, which makes them perfect vehicles for punitive taxation and regulation.

Not so with cannabis. I can say from direct personal experience that it’s very easy to grow. Easier than beer. They call it “weed” for a reason. Water, sunlight, amended garden soil (basically, add compost every year), and fertilizer. Two plants, treated as well as the tomatoes that grow 15 feet away, yield 4 to 5 pounds at a growing cost of about $1.50 an ounce if done from clones bought at a store, or 75 cents if grown from seed.

Presuming a modest level of gardening skill and attention, anyone can grow it themselves. Today, MJ retains a significant stigma. That, plus its novelty as a “legal” product (at least where I live, in the Pacific NW), has largely kept the 100-million-strong army of American gardeners — a group that’s older than average, and less inclined to change habits — on the sidelines.

This will change, and as it does you will see marijuana prices fall through the floorboards. The same cannabis I grow for a buck and a half an ounce sells for an average of $175 in the “legal” stores. The cookies I make (even easier than growing, by the way) cost me about a dime apiece; if I used store-bought marijuana, they’d cost me about $3.75 each. Anyone who thinks these markups will survive has been smoking too much of the product.

Details, details. They are where the devil lives. All the state’s horses and all the state’s prosecutors are not going to be able to keep those prices and tax revenues flowing for very long. They will be utterly no match for the Army of American Gardeners as it swings into action. I’m early to that party, but the room’s going to fill up. Just wait, and you’ll see. 25 years from now, cannabis will be everywhere. It will be mostly free, and what retail remains will see far, FAR lower price tags.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jake Jackson
John Sherbioni
John Sherbioni
1 year ago

Welcome to the real world of a person Who has been around Cannabis for over 50 years. I live in Canada and it would seem we are a little more progressive than your country is. Legal is now a for gone conclusion and wouldn’t you know the medical community is finding ways it is really helpful. Look at Ted x and see many persons who are now using some form if the plant are benefiting.
It is hard to fathom that you have seen so many negative effects from C
I can also direct you to compassion clubs who have utilized C for years with a myriad of conditions. Look to see why Israel is bringing forward. Man made alcohol God made the plant.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Sherbioni

“I live in Canada”
First world result! To believe well off, Middle Class Canada will have the same results in legalizing drugs as USA or UK shows you know very little of the world indeed.

You suffer from the ‘All my friends graduated from top universities and none have drug issues’ kind of thinking. Try working on job sites where most are drunks, do meth a lot, have been in jail, and will steal tools not locked up and get into fights when drunk (weekends). There are different realities, and I have lived in most of them, and they give different outcomes. Try living in inner cities where you hear gunshots like fireworks on hot summer nights. Yuppie scum making laws is always problematic as not everyone is a yuppie scum.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Sherbioni

(no offense intended to yuppie scum)

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Sherbioni

If your barely literate English illustrates the mental capacity of the typical Canadian stoner, I think I will stick with the maple syrup.