People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nutt

By chillinwill · Nov 12, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    A judge has criticised those who claim cannabis is harmless as 'simple' after hearing how a man brandished a pistol in public while suffering drug-induced paranoia.

    In a veiled attack on the Government's sacked chief drugs' adviser, Professor David Nutt, Judge Brian Lewis said he was in no doubt that Giovanni Mercuri's cannabis use was to blame for his serious difficulties and strange behaviour.

    The 25-year-old narrowly avoided jail after being caught with a blank firing revolver in a nightclub in March this year.

    Liverpool Crown Court heard how Mercuri had been diagnosed with cannabis-induced psychosis following the incident, which also saw him hospitalised under the Mental Health Act.

    Sentencing him to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, Judge Lewis said: 'Those simple souls who try to persuade us that cannabis is harmless should simply look at cases like yours.

    'There is no doubt it causes serious difficulties and can cause the form of psychosis which you are suffering from.''

    The judge's comments came hours before three more of the Government's drugs' advisers quit in the wake of the controversial sacking of Professor Nutt more than a week ago.

    Prof Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, was fired after he criticised Home Office policy on cannabis, particularly the Government's decision to upgrade the legal classification of cannabis from C to B.

    He also argued that ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes and claimed taking ecstasy was no more risky than horse riding.

    Two advisers - Marion Walker and Les King - quickly resigned in protest at Professor Nutt's sacking, on Friday October 30, and today a further three members of the ACMD followed suit.

    Chemist Simon Campbell, psychologist John Marsden and scientific consultant Ian Ragan stepped down following showdown talks with Home Secretary Alan Johnson on yesterday.

    Ian Davies, prosecuting, told the court that Mercuri was in Bakers Bar, West Street, Southport, Merseyside, in the early hours of March 12 this year when a doorman spotted him with some cannabis.

    When confronted Mercuri, who works at his family restaurant, did a 360 degree spin on the dance floor, before pushing the starting pistol down the side of his seat and leaving the building.

    The doorman, who believed Mercuri was acting 'very strange' but was not drunk, subsequently discovered the gun.

    Police were called and the nightclub evacuated. Meanwhile, Mercuri boasted to a taxi driver about what he had done, claiming he had left a loaded gun on a table in Bakers.
    He was arrested a few hours later.

    Yesterday Mercuri, who has previous convictions for assault and car theft, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm.

    The hearing was told he had been given the gun by a friend for his own protection.

    His barrister, Simon Driver, said that although Mercuri had carried the gun around for a few hours, he had not threatened anyone with it and left it behind, along with his jacket, when he left the nightclub.

    Mr Driver said Mercuri had been hospitalised following the incident under the Mental Health Act.

    'He was clearly unwell and displaying signs of paranoia,' Mr Driver added.

    Mercuri has since taken his psychiatrist's advice and has stayed away from cannabis after being diagnosed with cannabis-induced psychosis, the barrister said.

    Judge Lewis sentenced Mercuri to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and also placed him under a four month curfew, banning him from leaving home between 9pm and 7am.

    'Make no mistake, if you breach any of these orders you will come back before me and go straight to prison,'' the judge said.

    ''No sob stories, medical reports or letters from your mother will help.''

    Liz Hiull
    November 11, 2009
    Daily Mail

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  1. Nature Boy
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    Pleh! So some joker decides to fuck around with a starter pistol in a public place and it's an absolute disgrace because he's "not drunk". Big fucking deal. Let's hear about all the battered housewives and vandalised shop fronts in any British town on a busy weekend of drinking.
  2. podge
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    How does one accurately get diagnosed with "cannabis induced psychosis" ? Unless this guy has been monitored before his cannabis usage until now how exactly does one discern cannabis induced psychosis from a psychotic person who also smokes cannabis?

    And how can they filter out people who may actually have "cannabis induced psychosis" as opposed to someone blaming cannabis as a scapegoat in the hopes of getting a more lenient sentence?

    Well actually there is no definitive scientific evidence to support this, so there is very legitimate doubt on the topic. So far the only reliable information suggests it can cause psychosis in those who are predisposed to such problems - but not create it in an otherwise mentally stable person. His certainty on the issue is unnerving , apparently this guy isnt merely a judge - he is also a scientist and time traveler who has return from the future with new data which has yet to be uncovered in our time.:laugh:
  3. jeepack
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    Good point... I wanted to flame this dumb*ss... but then, he's already got his punishment: being scared shitless of his own shadow probably
  4. missparkles
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    Whilst I believe this judge deserves to be sacked, after all if you can sack a scientist for overstepping his authority, (he made remarks that were deemed political) then you should also sack the judge who oversteps his authority (he made claims that are of a medical nature). However, you still have to remember that cannabis can be psychologically addictive for anyone predisposed to addiction, and if over used (abused) people can have psychotic episodes.

    Now as has been said no one knows if they're predisposed to psychosis, but any drug that can have these effects has to be taken seriously. Just because the majority of the people have no problems with it, doesn't mean it's harmless. I hear it being compared to alcohol, but while alcohol WD in extreme addiction, can cause psychosis (DTs) even when drunk off their face, people do not go into any kind of psychotic state where they lose touch with reality.

    And that's the difference. I agree, compare someone who is drunk to someone stoned on cannabis, and it's like comparing night and day. But the next day the drunk will have a hangover, in very rare cases the cannabis user will be heavily sedated in a psych ward. Just my two cents for what it's worth?

  5. 10outof10
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    I take your point Sparkles but SWIM would suggest there are much stronger links of alcohol and psychosis than this..any mind altering substance can trigger psychosis when someone is predisposed. The delirium tremens (DT's) you mention is definitely an issue with withdrawals, in SWIM's experience this often manifests with visual or auditory hallucinations but excessive alcohol use can cause actual alcohol induced psychosis, sometimes temporary (will cease within 1 month of abstaining from alcohol) and sometimes be much more serious like Korsakoff’s psychosis. The link to alcohol and depression and the growing population of people suffering with ARBD (alcohol related brain damage) to me suggest it's just as damaging if not more so than cannabis. SWIM's comments come from SWIM's experience with working in mental health, an ARBD unit and from a relative's experience of alcohol induced psychosis.. :)
  6. missparkles
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    Totally agree, lots of people who are long term alcoholics get what's commonly termed "wet brain" which is like dementia. But the psychotic states that over use of cannabis can cause (stressing in extremely rare cases) is a complete break from reality, not a drunken fugue state. Sparkles has been in perhaps twenty psychiatric hospitals over the years, usually to have her tolerance level reduced, some times having several stays at the same hospital. This was common years ago for addicts, and it was also the norm for alcoholics to be detoxed in an "in patient" setting (only recently have home detox's become the norm). Usually for every addict there were four alcoholics going through this process. When she was in St Bernard's hospital where she was being treated by Max Glatt, there was a whole ward of addicts, perhaps 50-60, with only two being addicted to drugs. Not one alcoholic seemed to be suffering with any symptoms that even resembled psychosis.

    And although Sparkles has only seen three cases of cannabis induced psychosis(actually spent weeks with the person), or what was claimed to be, she's never seen an alcoholic suffering anything like a psychotic break. Now these stays usually lasted for 4 weeks, in that time she had a chance to talk to these people, so they were able to tell her what led to their illness. She's is not saying that alcohol is better or worse, what she is saying is that if someone is predisposed to suffering a psychotic episode, it seems they are more likely to get it from over use of cannabis than alcohol. After all, if someone needs to obliterate their feelings to the point of psychosis, chances are they've already tried the more available, legally sanctioned, alcoholic solution to their problems. No one with psychological problems who was looking for a chemical answer would try something that was so difficult to obtain, when a cheaper option was staring them in the face...would they?

    This was my point.
  7. enquirewithin
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    How would a lawyer know anything about cannabis and it effects?

    ''...he was in no doubt that Giovanni Mercuri's cannabis use was to blame for his serious difficulties and strange behaviour." This very unlikely. Lawyers have been playing the cannabis-psychosis card ever since it was made illegal. The judge has been suckered in this case. I wonder causes the judge to wear silly looking wigs in public? ;)
  8. 10outof10
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    I was not and am not disagreeing with the major risks that cannabis and indeed any other drug can have with regards to mental health. I suppose I am thinking in more literal terms of psychosis being a break in reality, which SWIM feels you could definitely argue that either substance causes that. In SWIM's experience within ARBD, clients often would lose touch of reality, either by thinking they were somewhere completely different, thinking they were Frank Sinatra or talking to people who weren't there and even at times becoming aggresive. SWIM has many close relatives with different conditions including schizophrenia and 1 that was diagnosed with alcohol induced psychosis and have to be honest didn't see all that much difference in the initial stages, more now as that person is not drinking so has recovered better. I do agree that Korsakoff's presents in a similar way as dementia.

    Here is an expert from an interesting article:
    [h2]Epidemiological analysis of alcohol and drug use as risk factors for psychotic experiences[/h2]

    Article Abstract:
    Although clinical and laboratory evidence indicates that people who use alcohol and other psychoactive drugs are at risk for psychotic experiences (delusions, hallucinations), epidemiological studies of real populations have not been carried out. To address this issue, a prospective study of 4,994 adults (aged 18 to 49) was performed to identify subjects who reported at least one psychotic experience during the first year of the study. A positive response to one or more of the 12 questions on the Diagnostic Interview Schedule constituted a self-reported psychotic experience. Slightly more than 11 percent of the group (507 'cases') met this criterion, and they were matched to 'noncases' in the same census tract of the general population. Cases and noncases were then compared with respect to drug use habits. Results showed that habitual drug use was associated with psychotic experience, with different drugs having different risk factors. Thus, daily use of marijuana was associated with a 2.4-fold elevated risk (cases versus controls), while daily cocaine use (involving 11 people in the entire study) was associated with a 7-fold higher risk. Alcohol disorder (but not heavy use of alcohol) carried a risk for cases that was 2.6 times that for controls, with a much higher risk for men than women. Overall, the findings suggested that regular use of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine is associated with a considerably elevated risk of psychotic experience, while occasional use of these substances is not.

    SWIM supposes SWIM's argument was that SWIM feels it is more about patterns of use with these substances, I guess with alcohol we are more aware of safe amounts and percentages etc, where as with cannabis and all the increased strengths with certain varieties , it is much harder to understand this. SWIM has worked with a few people with cannabis psychosis also and it was always people who were very heavy users and often used other substances including alcohol along side the cannabis. SWIM is wondering about the poly dug use aspect with other cannabis psychosis cases and is interested if this was the only substance used.

    With regards to alcohol being more readily available and therefore the more desirable option, SWIM is unsure if this is case for all, as everyone has different preferred poisons and believes some people may just prefer using cannabis. Certainly SWIM puffed a joint before ever trying alcohol, SWIM has never been much of a drinker and never found it v.difficult to come across or that expensive.

    Please don't think I am dismissing Sparkles argument what-so-ever, rather just enjoying the healthy debate! ;-)
  9. missparkles
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    hey, no worries, debate is how we share ideas and opinions, it's the healthy way to do it. Only governments use violence to win an argument.;)

    I think the use of the word "in" as opposed to "with" is being cagy, and sorta splitting hairs really. The break "in" or "with" reality from cannabis use, can last for days, sometimes weeks, when it does occur. But let's be clear about this, it only occurs after huge amounts have been injested over a considerable time, we're not taking heavy rec use, but major abuse here. And it doesn't always happen to everyone who abuses it.

    I've never seen or heard of someone who has become psychotic for days, with the same level of psychosis, on just alcohol, however much is used. DTs, unlike cannabis psychosis, will stop if you give the alcoholic more booze, give a psychotic cannabis user more dope, and it won't make the slightest bit of difference to their mental state.

    DTs happen as a result of abrupt WD of alcohol, they can be prevented, even stopped. Once a true psychotic state has begun, regardless of what has caused it, you usually have to wait until it runs it's course. Sparkles suffered several episodes of drug induced psychosis, when she abruptly stopped using Heminevrin (chlormethiazole) after prolonged "over use." The resulting psychosis (common when this drug is abruptly stopped) continued unchanged even though Sparkles was given large doses of Heminevrin when she was admitted to hospital, the day after it began.

    This happened on several occassions, and every time, the re-introduction of this drug made no difference. If Sparkles had DTs (also a form of psychosis) and benzodiazepines or alcohol were given to her, the DTs would vanish as soon as the benzo or booze kicked in. Also most severe psychiatric conditions related to alcohol abuse are ususally exhibited by people who have been drinking heavily for a long time, three of the people Sparkles met in hospital who had become psychotic after hammering cannabis were in their 20s, not middle aged users who had been using for 20 years. That's also a subtle difference.

  10. 10outof10
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    I agree, wasn't making a difference between in or with, that was just how I wrote it! ;-) SWIM observed a fairly lasting psychosis with alcohol, took a month or two to subside and that person now suffers periods of psychosis now and again although not as severe. They often are talking to people who are not there and refer to this when in more lucid times, realising that this was some form of hallucination. I agree for sure the DT's is a different thing altogether and connected to withdrawals. What SWIM did find interesting is the increase in referrals to ARBD units in Scotland for young men in their twenties.

    Seems to me were kinda singing from the same hymn-sheets so to speak, all be it with slightly different viewpoints. That's what makes life interesting eh? All the best :)
  11. DempseyStearns
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

  12. missparkles
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    Millions of people use alcohol with no lasting effects, like people who smoke dope, they use it sensibly. The fact that the effects of alcohol and dope differ so greatly is the reason lots of people prefer one over the other. People who drink sensibly like the feeling of the high whilst being aware of their surroundings, people who smoke dope like the effects because it can give the external more meaning, heighten their awareness if you like. Alcohol actually dulls senses, and usually people don't drink to attain a spiritual understanding of life. This might be one of the reasons that over use results in such different health issues?

  13. Piglet
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    Would anyone else say it's difficult to take the word of someone dressed like a public school batman?


    It really doesn't lend weight to his arguments...
  14. missparkles
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    Now you come to mention it, that does sorta say it all, doesn't it?:laugh:

    The fact that his comments about a medical condition (he's a judge, not a doctor) are being seen as credible, when someone who is an expert on medical conditions (Prof Nutt) is ridiculed for making comments that by extension, could affect the health of everyone, is just absurd.

  15. Amnesia
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    SWIpodge and SWIenquirewithin make some very valid points.
    Without more information the idea that this incident was the result of cannabis psychosis is tenuous.

    Was a toxicology screen done? Did the defendant have any other drugs in his system? Was he breathalysed or was it assumed he was not drunk based solely on the doorman’s opinion?

    He had previous convictions for car theft and assault so he may have pissed off the wrong people, people who wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to do it again, which would be good grounds for being paranoid. The cannabis may not have caused it at all. The story doesn’t even say whether he had ingested any cannabis, just that he was ‘spotted’ with it.
    He had been given a gun for ‘his own protection’ by a friend, from which one could infer that he had indeed pissed off someone he shouldn’t have and both he and his friend were worried about the consequences. SWIM can’t see someone giving an obviously psychotic person a gun, unless they are terminally stupid.
    Also, the fact that he was bragging to a taxi driver about the gun seems to display behaviour completely opposite to paranoia. If he was so severely paranoid surely he would have kept his mouth shut until he got home, then he would have hid in the basement.

    If the defence can prove diminished responsibility due to psychosis a much more lenient sentence is usually on the cards, and if the defendant spends time in a psychiatric facility then that’s just the cherry on the cake.
    It seems likely that this man’s lawyer played on the judge’s ignorance and succeeded. Yet, without further information, no one can say for certain.

    Keeping the details of this incident so vague doesn't do anyone any favours, it merely clouds the debate about cannabis induced psychosis. Those who believe cannabis is dangerous will leap on it without even knowing if this man, who has a history of violent crime, was under the influence of anything else - including a well justified fear of retribution; those who disbelieve - or are at least capable of thinking for themselves - will wonder what is being omitted, why it has been omitted and how this judge can make such forceful claims beyond his remit.
  16. spunkymunky
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    Sorry, but judges sitting in the Crown Court will have seen countless defendants who are HEAVY cannabis smokers. They will have witnessed dozens of arguments, and read medical reports in relation to the effects of cannabis, particularly where psychosis is used as a mitigating factor. OK, the statement he made about "simple souls" was pompous and unnecessary but this particular defendant had been diagnosed - so that is how lawyers know about the effects cannabis had on this individual.

    Also, some lawyers smoke cannabis.
  17. rawbeer
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    It seems Britain is starting to out-do the US in nonsense anti-pot propaganda - every week some new nonsense comes out. It is ridiculous coming from a culture in which binge drinking and bar fighting is so ingrained.
    How long can this "so and so did this, then killed someone, therefore this made him kill someone" go on? How do we know it wasn't what this man ate for lunch that set him off? Maybe he was wearing briefs instead of boxers - that might have done it.
    In Bowling For Columbine Michael Moore jokingly suggested that it was bowling that inspired the Columbine shootings - and there's the case of Lanfrey, the absinthe murderer of france, who was inspired to kill his family by a few glasses of absinthe (the few liters of wine brandy and cordials he had also drank had no effect, apparently).
    Sure, I see the logic of linking drug intake to crime, but when the nature of the crime is opposite to the nature of the drug's effects...
  18. Sven99
    Re: People who label cannabis harmless are 'simple', says judge in attack on Prof. Nu

    More strawman posturing. Nobody said cannabis was harmless.
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