It is Our Duty to Save Kids From Cannabis
guardian.co.uk, Thursday November 27 2008 00.01 GMT
The Guardian, Thursday November 27 2008
It was with deep dismay that I read the letter from Dr Evan Harris MP et al (November 25) urging the government to postpone plans to reclassify cannabis. The writers say that the level of cannabis use has fallen in recent years, but among young teenagers drug use continues to rise, and the choice of 14- to 15-year-olds is still cannabis.
The brain does not finish its development till the 20s, so the younger a person starts using cannabis, the higher the risk of becoming addicted, suffering mental illness or moving on to other drugs. Dr Harris et al claim that there is no new research, but currently Professor Robin Murray is finding that giving THC - the active ingredient in cannabis - to healthy volunteers does indeed cause psychosis, it's simply a matter of the amount given.
Restoring cannabis to class B will give some comfort to the thousands of parents whose children have been affected by cannabis use becoming the norm since downclassification, many of whom have contacted our organisation. The home secretary must stick to her guns. The message needs to go out that the government is listening and acknowledging this appalling public health issue.
I wonder how many of the writers of the letter have had first-hand experience of living with the misery and desperation caused by skunk cannabis use among the young? The message that will be sent by restoring the drug to class B is a good start to eradicating the problem, and thereafter school drug education policy must return to focus on prevention. It is our duty to protect children, not to leave them to make critical life decisions many years before their brains have matured.
Director, Talking About Cannabis