April 16, 2008
We should license manufacturers to produce high-quality cannabis products for medical and recreational purposes
Sir, The tragic deaths of Natasha Collins and Mark Speight (report, April 14) serve to illustrate the failure of government policy on the abolition of drugs. The attempts to abolish hard drugs have failed. Rather, as in the US during Prohibition, they have resulted in their glamorisation, in the creation of cartels that import and distribute drugs, with their accompanying bribery and street deaths in turf wars, and a surfeit of muggings and burglaries by minor criminals desperate for their next fix. And we have destroyed the rural economy of a supplying country, Afghanistan, which we are attempting to pacify.
Surely our Government should admit to failure and look for a rational method of regulating drug supply. For registered users, the NHS might provide a method of controlling the supply, and I do not mean methadone. Supply of drugs by repeat prescription would provide doctors with a means of monitoring consumption and identifying addiction, and might supply a barrier against highly addictive versions such as skunk.
Ralph J. Lamden
Sir, Legalising cannabis will not be effective unless we decide to put its supply on a par with the other main recreational drugs, ie, alcohol and tobacco. We should license manufacturers to produce high-quality cannabis products for medical and recreational purposes, to be sold across the counter at a price (including some tax) that would effectively discourage the dealers, whose activities would remain illegal.
As far as Class-A drugs are concerned, heroin is probably the most dangerous. As Afghanistan is the principal producer, would it be possible for the Nato countries to get together and buy the whole crop at a sensible price and with conditions aimed at steadily reducing it? Heroin required for medical use would be sold and surplus supply would be destroyed. Heroin addicts could be registered medically as such and obtain legal supplies for personal consumption. All dealing would be totally illegal.
Cocaine is a different story, but it would be easier to control if the prevention agencies could concentrate only on cocaine as opposed to cannabis and heroin.
Sir, In 1984 researchers found that cannabis was detectable in the bloodstream after passive inhalation and in 2006 researchers at Keele University confirmed that active and passive smoking of cannabis contributes to respiratory, neurological and other smoking-related diseases.
Recently Dr Martin Frisher, from the same university, presented some of his findings on the possible effects of higher-potency cannabis on mental health, to medical and drugs specialists at a meeting of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs: this research has been commissioned by the Home Office and is not yet published.
It is reasonable to assume that some of the increases in child mental health issues, self-harm, suicide and impaired driving could be linked to secondary smoking of cannabis; it should be recognised that a very significant number of children live in households with long-term users of this drug.
While discussions about the reclassification of cannabis are very topical there is little discussion about its impact on passive smokers. It would be very welcome.