Orders of the Day — Drugs (Sentencing and Commission of Inquiry) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:44 am on 25th February 2005.

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Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley 9:44 am, 25th February 2005

My right hon. Friend poses an interesting question, which I have considered. Given the information that I have read about long-term drug takers, I cannot believe that any independent commission that knew the facts would not recommend reclassifying cannabis to class B. I would be staggered if an independent commission decided that cannabis is not that harmful and it would not need to be loaded to recommend reclassification to class B.

The Government sent out all the wrong signals when they reclassified cannabis, because they basically said that it is not as harmful as many other drugs. Cannabis is comprised of more than 400 chemicals and contains more tar and a higher concentration of carcinogens than tobacco. Not only can it cause cancer, but it can disrupt the control of blood pressure, which increases the risk of fainting. Even occasional use is bad for people with heart and circulation disorders and for those predisposed to schizophrenia.

The risks of mental illness are clear. Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity SANE, has recently commented on the link between cannabis and mental illness, saying:

"We have growing evidence from our 1,000 callers a week that the current culture of taking cannabis makes treatment difficult and adversely affects the prognosis for those who become psychotic."

In January this year, she said:

"While an inquiry would have been welcomed before the lowering of the classification last year—making it more easily available and giving out messages that it is relatively harmless—we would urge the Government to reverse its decision on classification urgently, backing that with a multi-million pound education and awareness campaign on the dangers of cannabis for young people whose brains are developing."

When the Minister replies, I hope that she will say whether the Government intend to introduce a programme advertising the bad effects of cannabis.

Annotations

Cosmo Loginaut
Posted on 4 Mar 2005 12:15 pm (Report this annotation)

Cannabis may not be without some risk, but it seems by comparison to be much safer than most other drugs, illegal or otherwise. Although there are carcinogens in cannabis smoke (obviously), I do not believe it has ever been shown that there is a cancer risk associated with cannabis alone; this could be because of the presence of anti-cancer chemicals as well.

Contrary to what he says, the risks of mental illness are far from clear, and what research has been done seems to show any risk is minimal. I would like to see all research into cannabis carried out head-to-head with alcohol and maybe an anti-depressant, so that any results can be put into a recognisable context.

I don't argue against that schizophrenics might sometimes have their symptoms exacerbated by smoking cannabis, but I'd expect watching a horror film to do the same, but I don't advocate banning horror, although some of them really are awful :-)

Torpidai
Posted on 28 Apr 2005 9:56 am (Report this annotation)

The risks of mental illness are clear. Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity SANE, has recently commented on the link between cannabis and mental illness

Can I assume Marjorie Wallace is a Dr? a psychologist, a psycietrist maybe, or is she just second guessing, maybe to add weight to applications for extra funding for her charity/charities?

Many aspects of modern life can exacerbate symtoms of a schizophrenic, but I see few suggestions of criminalising strobe lighting.

Torpidai
Posted on 28 Apr 2005 10:15 am (Report this annotation)

The risks of mental illness are clear. Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity SANE, has recently commented on the link between cannabis and mental illness

Can I assume Marjorie Wallace is a Dr? a psychologist, a psycietrist maybe, or is she just second guessing, maybe to add weight to applications for extra funding for her charity/charities?

Many aspects of modern life can exacerbate symtoms of a schizophrenic, but I see few suggestions of criminalising strobe lighting.