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

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:51 am on 25th February 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Paul Marsden Mr Paul Marsden Shadow Minister, Transport 10:51 am, 25th February 2005

I congratulate Mr. Evans on his luck and success in coming second in the ballot and, as has been mentioned, on providing another opportunity to talk about this very important subject. I also want to congratulate Laura Moffatt on showing great insight and thoughtfulness in her speech, based on her previous profession and her involvement with the all-party group on drugs misuse. She has demonstrated her feelings on the subject and made an important contribution today.

As ever, Mr. Forth brings a breath of fresh air to the House. For probably the first time in my eight years as a Member, I am in agreement with him in that I, too, think that we should broaden this debate. It is rather strange that the media and the public seem to get very excited about cannabis, given the facts about the short-term effects of its use. Although I accept that its long-term use can cause some harm, in the greater scheme of things we should be actively debating the effects of alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol kills some 120,000 people every single year and tobacco kills some 40,000 a year. The number of cannabis overdoses can be counted on one hand, and it is clear that the number of deaths attributed to it is none, or virtually none. Of course, every single drug user death or instance of suffering must be taken very seriously. Nevertheless, we need to inject a breath of fresh air into the debate, take a step back and have a proper discussion on the entire spectrum of drugs.