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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    BRITAIN - I well remember the day in 1997 that Rosie Boycott, my then boss, announced that the Independent on Sunday was going to campaign for the decriminalisation of cannabis. There was a collective gulp; then, the more we thought about it, the more appealing it became. It was daring — some would say reckless — but the medical argument against cannabis was weak, while there was plenty of evidence that users who bought it illegally were encouraged by dealers to try more harmful drugs.

    Despite attracting criticism — notably from Alastair Campbell, then the Prime Minister’s press secretary, who labelled us “a bunch of old hippies” — the campaign took off. We received praise from those who were in the front line in the war on drugs, from police officers, prison warders and counsellors. Sales of the paper rose to a record high (no pun intended).

    We fought a good battle, including a heavily attended rally in central London. Then Rosie changed jobs and the struggle petered out. In time, though, the law did soften, so that possession for personal use was scaled down.

    I admit now that I’m no longer in favour of decriminalisation. I know I will be accused of hypocrisy. But I’m not on some journey from wishy-washy liberal to arch-reactionary.

    Is it hypocritical to base my change on what I’ve learned since? In 1997 we were talking about pot, the sweet-smelling marijuana people of my youth associated with chilling.

    There was a furtive aspect to their activities but that could be put down to the fact that what they were doing was criminal. Remove that hindrance and they would be carefree and relaxed — far more so than anyone lagered up or off their head on coke.

    That was always the plank in our case: that dope was nowhere near as harmful as alcohol, cigarettes or even caffeine, and the only consistent negative, health-wise, was that the most popular way of consuming it was to mix it with tobacco and smoke it.

    But then I’d not encountered skunk. I became aware of it when my older children, now in their twenties, were in their teens. Now and again we’d meet one of their acquaintances, wasted and stinking of pungent smoke.

    When parents got together the chat would turn to the difficulties with a child they’d heard of — usually a boy because they were drawn to smoking more than girls — who was not going to school, who had become withdrawn and uncommunicative. Inevitably, “skunk” was mentioned.

    Three to four times more potent than the hash I thought we were campaigning for, it was developed in the US by crossing two cannabis plants, before heading for Europe. It’s easily grown at home. Indeed, suppliers of seeds revel in its power, giving varieties names such as AK47 and Bomb.

    Along too has now come Professor Wayne Hall, an adviser to the World Health Organisation, with the most in-depth report ever conducted into the subject, showing that cannabis is far from safe. His research leaves no doubt: the drug can cause heart problems; can provoke mental health conditions such as schizophrenia; and it’s as addictive as heroin.

    When we made our calls to “legalise it," skunk was not in our heads. Neither was Hall’s study. If they had been, our attitude might have been very different.

    By Chris Blackhurst - The Evening Standard/Oct. 9, 2014
    Photos: audioboom.com

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. EdgarAllanDro
    Re: Ex-Independent Editor Chris Blackhurst Shares His Views: Cannabis is Far From Saf


    It looks like Blackhurst has taken to a very popular misinterpretation of another study you posted here earlier.

    I found an article posted about 5 hours ago on The Washington Post that attempts to dispel Blackhurst's misrepresentation of the facts:

    By Christopher Ingraham - The Washington Post/Oct. 9, 2014
  2. Beenthere2Hippie
    Re: Ex-Independent Editor Chris Blackhurst Shares His Views: Cannabis is Far From Saf

    Mr. Dro-

    The articles you are quoting are articles from a) The Standard of the UK and b) LiveScience.com. I did not write either article; I simply put them up on the Drugs-Forum's News section for all who are interested to read.

    I do understand that at times unpopular--as well as poorly researched pieces written in the name of science or politics or opinion--are displayed on these pages, right along with wild, weird and sometimes even disgusting journalistic antics from around the world.

    At the same time we also post highly informative and provocative pieces, food for the mind, so to speak, right along with the stories that make us laugh, cry or get annoyed. Please try to remember, our news section is a catch all, a cornucopia of information for people of all tastes and opinions. And all such information should be taken for what they are worth; and what each story is worth is up to the individual(s) who choose to read and comment on them. Or not comment at all.

    I do take it personally if someone who reads the news I post does not like it or agree with its contents. After all, as I've said I did not write the stories. But I do take it personally if someone interprets my posting as intent to misinform. I cannot argue for the journalist who have written many of the stories that fill our news sections yearly, but they all combine to make for interesting banter which most DF members understand in premise and enjoy in practice. I do hope that I have explained the misunderstanding to your satisfaction, and that you can now sit back, relax and enjoy. If not, simply click your mouse and move on.

  3. EdgarAllanDro
    Re: Ex-Independent Editor Chris Blackhurst Shares His Views: Cannabis is Far From Saf

    Ms. Hippie,

    I am genuinely sorry that I made you feel this way. It was truly not my intention to criticize you-- I thought your post was valuable! Any time propaganda like this is disseminated, we should prepare each other with its content. I truly believe that we have simply misunderstood one another. Please, I ask that you allow me to explain:

    The first post I wrote used the sub-heading from the original article page by Blackhurst. That subheading repeats a very similar message, and it ends with "as addictive as heroin." I originally posted this subheading, but I was concerned that it did not appear in the body of the content you posted. In an attempt to remove all doubt that I was responding to the appropriate content, I quoted your post (which puts your username at the top). I know you didn't write that, but I know that other users might skip over that and think exactly what you did-- that I'm calling you out on misinformation. I am really, truly not doing that.

    I indeed find Blackhurst's (and other media demagogues') conclusion that cannabis is "as addictive as heroin" to be laughable, but your addition to this site made me stop and do some research-- I take you seriously. Now I know more simply because you brought this to my attention and spurred me to action. That's why I came to DF: to encounter challenging information that makes me more a responsible, capable, and productive human.

    I desperately wish to edit my post such that it only serves to reinforce the facts. Please, I ask you very genuinely, tell me how I can do this so we can put this behind us. If you believe that my addition was unhelpful, I will readily remove it.

    Mr. Dro
  4. Beenthere2Hippie
    Re: Ex-Independent Editor Chris Blackhurst Shares His Views: Cannabis is Far From Saf

    Edgar Allen Dro-

    I am more than in agreement with you that when a posted news story reflects glaring mis-information or is factually lacking quality, or incorrect in its content, members reading such an article should respond to the thread and site such shortcomings on the part of the article's writer. That is why such articles are put up in the first place--because they make for stimulating debate and discussion; we are fully in agreement on that subject.

    What made me write you last night was the line you posted referring directly to me (do not remember whether is was "you" or my DF name Beenthere2Hippie) right after the post's first quote, inferring that I had made some sort of error in judgement in the articles' postings. The referral to me, I see, has since been changed to Blackhurst, and I also noticed that you have changed your avatar as well, both functions of which have been options to you since you became a Silver member, as your current status shows.

    Thank you for having changed your post, as your post is now in balance with both our points of view and thusly benefits the entire thread. Please know that it was never my intention to upset you. I simply responded to a statement that referred directly to me.

    If you have further questions or concerns, please DM me directly as to not tie up this thread with subjects not directly related to news.

    Thank you,

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