Cannabis and drugs – the debate

Drug Debate


As an educator it is clear to me that the whole issue of drug use should never have been made into a criminal issue. It has always been a social/medical issue.

The ‘War on Drugs’ has muddied the waters. It was foisted on to us by America and has created a far worse situation. Instead of feeding everyone with factual information, running unbiased research and looking objectively and pragmatically at the whole drug issue we have been subjected to relentless propaganda. The result of this is that nobody believes any of it.

Back in the 1950s we did not have a drug culture. Many drugs, including cannabis, cocaine and heroin were available in chemists or on prescription. Queen Victoria used to use cannabis tincture to alleviate menstruation cramps. Heroin was available on script and ‘Junkies’ were seen as being pathetic individuals.

What followed was a pressure from America to create a more draconian criminalisation of drug use. It seemed to have a puritanical basis where anything that was pleasurable was viewed as evil. We were subjected to ludicrous propaganda films such as ‘Reefer Madness’ which were so ludicrous that they served as a recruitment exercise.

The sixties escalated the problem. The puritanical attitudes of the older generation were rejected by the younger generation – sex, drugs, alcohol and kicks were cool. None of the hip kids believed that anybody in the older generation knew what they were talking about. The use of cannabis was widespread among students and the myths were exposed as flawed.

This was unhelpful as it blurred the issue. No drugs are unharmful. It is a question of how much harm and whether the pleasure was worth the risk.

The younger generation in the sixties saw cannabis as harmless and far better than alcohol.

The debate about Cannabis on Channel 4 yesterday was far from perfect but it at least opens up the possibility of a far better logical approach to the whole issue of drugs.


Cannabis is a natural plant with two active ingredients in balance with each other – Cannabinoids (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is the THC that produces the high.

Skunk is a genetically modified hybrid which has much higher levels of THC and hardly any CBD.

The THC and CBD act on centres in the brain. The CBD counters a lot of the negative effects of the THC. Hence skunk is likely to produce more detrimental effects.

Neither is highly toxic. The risk of death from overdose is miniscule.

The harm

1. Cancer risk etc. – the smoke from spliffs, particularly when mixed with tobacco, creates a risk of numerous types of cancer, heart disease and lung disease. This is obviously increased with quantity and regularity.

2. Addiction – in most people there is no addaction but with heavy use psychological addiction occurs.

3. Psychosis – There is no evidence of increased risk of psychosis with cannabis but there is a marked risk with Skunk.

4. Memory – It impairs short-term memory substantially. I have seen the effect on students and it can be catastrophic.

5. Demotivation – The drug changes behaviour and motivation in many people resulting in a loss of drive.

6. Driving – It impairs the reflexes and decision making creating a high risk for driving in a similar way to alcohol.

7. Young – young developing brains may be adversely affected and brain development retarded in certain areas

The benefits

1. Pleasurable – People smoke it because they find getting high pleasurable.

2. Social – To share a spliff with friends is a nice way of interacting and bonding

3. Sex – The pleasure during sex is enhanced

3. Relaxing – It enables people to unwind and get rid of tensions

4. Creativity – It enhances the creative process and stimulates ideas and alternative thinking

5. Music – It opens areas of the brain to both appreciate music and create it, enriching the experience.


– used in moderation, wisely, it is a pleasant and enriching experience with low risk.

– Used too regularly, or unwisely (when driving or studying or by the very young), it is highly destructive.

What is clear is that this is not an issue for politicians. All they are interested in is votes and popularity contests. This is an issue for health experts, social experts and educators.

It’s another example of how politicians mess up people’s lives! They create problems rather than solve them. The huge drug problem we have now is directly the result of their policy of criminalisation. Drugs are a health and social issue and should be treated as such.

If they were decriminalised and sold subject to health and safety regulations it would remove the more dangerous elements, enable better regulation and take it out of the hands of criminals who are financing their other criminal enterprises on the profits.