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Thursday, July 19, 2007 

Reefer insanity.

Jacqui Smith as a student, no doubt stoned out of her gourd.

This latest crop of politicians really do hate the kids, don't they? A day after announcing yet another idiotic reassessing of whether cannabis should be Class B or C, 7 cabinet ministers, prompted by Jacqui Smith, all confess to have consumed the wicked weed when they themselves were students. Notice that not a single one of them dared to admit that they actually rather enjoyed the experience, and that compared to other substances it's by far both the most pleasant and the least dangerous in equal measure, but then we are talking about the typically stuffy ex-left-wingers who seem to like to dress themselves up in hair shirts in later life. It's fell upon the Tories previously, including Tim Yeo, Norman Lamont and Boris Johnson, who do often seem more fun loving (Tories, not those three, well apart from the latter), to dare to suggest that they rather liked it.

You see then children, it was perfectly all right for those politicians to smoke that illegal drug way back then, because unlike today, it was weak and just brought on the good vibes. Today, thanks to the friendly neighbourhood Vietnamese, stealing electricity to power his rented home full to the brim with marijuana plants and hydroponic lighting, the substance is so full to the brim with THC that not only will it quite literally blow your head off but it'll also instantaneously turn you so psychotic that you'll think you're the Dark Lord himself, obviously resulting in you chopping up your former bud buddies into small pieces. Or at least, that seems to be Smith's argument, although I might have paraphrased it somewhat.

It's all rather depressing really. As Transform explains, this will be the third time in 5 years now that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs will be called upon to review their recommendation that cannabis be a Class C drug, resulting usually in a caution if you have a small amount for personal use in your possession. The whole thing is a direct result of media hysteria about the effects of skunk, and at least two recent murders where it was alleged that the person subsequently convicted was either "addicted" or a heavy user of cannabis, despite the evidence in both cases suggesting that the use of the drug had only exacerbated the deterioration in their mental health.

As Unity states, the only real conclusion that has so far been reached is that use of cannabis in a person who has a genetic disposition towards mental illness has been shown to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. As for the supposed massively increased potency, with some claiming that the amount of THC has increased by 25, 30 or even 50% over the last few decades, all the statistics show that this is a complete and utter myth,
with at most the potency of indoor grown herbal cannabis reaching 12% or 14%. A report from 2004 (PDF) showed that the strongest varieties additionally only make up 15% of the market. It's also complete nonsense that there hasn't always been strong cannabis around, as the UN figures from 1975 show, with the more exotic imports being even more potent than the average today being sampled for their strength.

No, the real reason for once again raising this reefer insanity is that Brown is trying his best to get into the Daily Mail's good books. Last week, following the fulsome praise which the Mail give to Iain Duncan Smith's report on social breakdown which recommended tax cuts for married couples and, you guessed it, the reclassification of cannabis to Class B, Brown dropped a sort of bombshell at prime minister's questions and said that supercasinos, a pet hate of the Mail associated with today's moral decadence, would be looked at again, the subtext being they were dead in the water. The Mail responded accordingly. This week, again prompted by a helpful question about the medical benefits of cannabis to those with multiple sclerosis and other ailments, he stated that cannabis would be reassessed. Brown again gets praised by the right-wing media that is hopelessly stuck in the past, while everyone with even the slightest knowledge of the dangers posed by cannabis, the police included, sigh and wonder whether we'll ever get out of this ridiculous cycle of reactionary, hysterical ignorance.

If we're to ever get to some state of near sanity on not just cannabis, but all drugs, we have to examine the risks inherent in all of them calmly and without wild-eyed prejudice. Cannabis is potentially dangerous, especially among those predisposed to mental illness, with those under 18 also being at risk. This shouldn't however mean that everyone else should be potentially criminalised for having a small amount for personal use, just as alcohol, which a recent Lancet report considered far worse for the average person and society as whole than cannabis, is age restricted. Tim Worstall gets it right:

the only sensible question anyone should be asking is whether the corner shop can sell it in packs of five or ten.

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Hahaha, nice pic. The DEA might not be after Ms Smith, but the fashion police must be.

This 'stronger Cannabis' thing makes me wonder if some of the stuff is cut with things that make people dizzy and crazy?

In medieval times, brewers used to put African Berry into their brews (amongst a lot of other 'herbs' -- you'd be surprised how much out there can give you a woozy head and funny ideas!) to make punters think that their brew 'packs a good punch'.

It would make sense for middlemen and dealers to cut the cannabis with a little heroin, some pills or some crack even, just enough to have a mild effect with a 'strong hit', at very little extra cost.

I don't know how addictive Heroin or crack is when smoked in small quantities, but I doubt that it hurts 'repeat sales'.

The sooner this gets legalised and regulated, the better. And whilst they are at it, they could do something about the additives that are mixed into tobacco as well...!

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