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These words warn of danger of cannabis use

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 05, 2012

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WITH reference to the article "Laurence 'let down' by mental health system", (Echo, October 22).

Just 34 words by Laurence's father, Malcolm tell the absolute truth about cannabis addicts.

"All Laurence's mental health problems came about through cannabis use," he said.

"He started using the drug at school and carried on when he went to university.

"The drug took over and led to schizophrenia."

These words should be printed out on sheets and circulated to every kind of school, so that pupils know from the outset the results of cannabis use.

I cannot recall such a brief collection of words saying so much of importance as these words by Malcolm Percival.

J Keeley, Cheltenham

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  • MarkBaker  |  November 12 2012, 3:53PM

    I obviously sympathise with anyone who experiences problems with any drug, but this kind of talk does more harm than good. Does Laurences father have a medical background? Because if he doesn't he can't make accusations that cannabis is the main cause of his sons problems. Yes, some people will run into problems with cannabis, but your chances of experiencing mental health issues like this are very slim indeed... in fact, you're much more likely run into mental health problems by drinking alcohol. (see data on http://tinyurl.com/6owzl8d) Of course we do need to be ensuring children realise the dangers with regard to cannabis. Until they reach adulthood, childrens brains are still developing and using cannabis may, in a very small number of cases, lead to problems. However, kids are very astute and if you tell them lies about cannabis they'll often think you're also lying about other drugs too. When a child comes into contact with cannabis and tries it (probably under peer pressure), they will most likely think "Well that wasn't so bad?" and then this will give them a false impression of the harms other drugs can cause. Being in that I am a drug legalisation activist I obviously I have a slightly biased standpoint, but that doesn't mean I don't understand the relative harms of all narcotics - far from it! For the uninformed it may seem crazy to think about legalising all drugs. Many will incorrectly think this means heroin will be sold in Tesco, but that simply isn't the case. I firmly believe, and all available evidence points to the fact, that drug harms would be reduced if we took drugs out of the hands of criminals and sold them through licenced outlets. A very useful website for more information is Transform (http://tinyurl.com/equ2m) who have produced a 'blueprint' to legalisation to show how this could happen and what effects it would have. Until the government control the supply of drugs they will NEVER control their harmful effects. The 'War on Drugs' has been an abject failure that has needlessly ruined lives across the globe. The net gain of legalising and controlling the currently illicit drug market would change the face of the world dramatically. Most people don't realise the effect the current prohibitive laws have on their lives - whether they use drugs or not. The bottomline is that yes, of course drugs are dangerous, so why are we letting criminals control the sale of them?? It is utter madness!!

  • SourAlienOG  |  November 06 2012, 5:19PM

    The British Association for Psychopharmacology disagrees. Cannabis cannot cause psychosis or schizophrenia. ''Although cannabis use increased 10-20 fold over the last 40 years, the number of people with psychosis didn't, indeed, it looks like there might be a downward trend in schizophrenia admissions. If there was a direct link, you might expect to see levels in both either rise or fall together. If there is a link between cannabis use and psychosis it is likely to be complicated, and it is still not clear in which direction an effect occurs. It may be that the link is seen because people who already have psychosis find that smoking cannabis alleviates symptoms like social anxiety, so they smoke to self medicate'' There is no study that supports the idea that cannabis induces psychosis or schizophrenia. If you want to talk about cannabis and THC, we cant ignore the CBD which is a safe non psychoactive cannabinoid which has anti psychotic properties along with much more medicinal value. In countries that legally regulate cannabis, people with said mental illnesses are prescribed cannabis rich in CBD. It works with the THC to produce a calming effect and combats the effects of said mental illnesses allowing sufferer to cope and reduce symptoms. In Israel they have bred a strain of cannabis containing hardly any THC, but a massive amount of CBD. For people who dont need to feel the 'euphoric mood'. However THC has its own array of medicinal properties and therapeutic effects, so in the States and in Spain, they have developed strains with a 1:1 ratio. 8%THC 8%CBD for example. In the UK, cannabis is fully prohibited. Yet the golden rule of any dealer is to sell the strongest stuff for more profits. If cannabis users have no choice of different strains, and only High THC no CBD strains available, it may cause problems in certain susceptible individuals and young people when abused heavily. However, psychosis and schizophrenia will never ever be a side effect. To put things in perspective, alcohol users are 6times more likely to develop psychotic symptoms and psychological problems than cannabis users. I am in no way saying alcohol is guaranteed to cause said psychological problems, but it puts cannabis in perspective. Also, GWpharma who grow thousands of cannabis plants in Kent, sell the worlds most expensive cannabis. Its not cannabis 'based' medicine, its pure cannabis oil in tinctures. Its super concentrated. Street weed is 12-18% THC, GWpharma's Sativex (liquid cannabis) is around 50% THC. MUCH stronger than any herbal cannabis in Holland, let alone the UK. If cannabis caused said mental health problems, wouldnt that be stated in the List of Side effects?

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  • achesandpains  |  November 06 2012, 10:49AM

    And how many lives have been wrecked by alcohol abuse and associated effects on society. The vast majority of cannabis users have no problems - the same can't be said of alcohol. There is a desperate need for honest education but until prohibition ends that ain't going to happen. This sad case is due, at least in part, to prohibition.

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  • alan_hobday  |  November 06 2012, 8:30AM

    Protect our children: repeal prohibition. Those are not my words, it was a slogan used by the campaign to repeal alcohol prohibition in the 1920's. They were right, as legalising alcohol took the market out of the hands of unscrupulous gangsters and prevented it's supply to children who should not have access to any psycho-active drug such a alcohol or cannabis. Legalise cannabis to effectively protect our children, something that has never been done by prohibition.

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  • PoetPeter  |  November 06 2012, 7:29AM

    This is scaremongering nonsense, dangerousl;y misleading and irresponsible. Although there are a tiny, tiny number of tragic cases cases of cannabis use triggering a pre-existing condition, in public health terms it is a trivial problems and propaganda like this diverts attention and healthcare services from far more important issues. The scientific evidence about cannabis and mental health is: 1. Hickman et al, 2009. A review of all published research so, by definition­, not cherry picked. It shows that the risk of lifetime cannabis use correlatin­g with a single diagnosis of psychosis is at worst 0.013% and probably less than 0.003%. 2. Hospital Episode Statistics. Count of finished admission episodes (FAE) with a primary diagnosis of mental and behavioural disorders due to use of cannabinoids (ICD10 code F12) and alcohol (ICD10 code F10) Cannabinoids (F12) 2009-10 713 2010-11 799 Alcohol (F10) 2009-10 47,402 2010-11 47,287 Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), The NHS Information Centre for health and social care. There are three million regular users of cannabis (Atha et al 2011) and 31 million regular users of alcohol (NHS Information Centre 2009). Therefore alcohol use is six times more likely to result in admission for mental and behavioural disorders. 3. Frisher et al 2009. The ACMD commissioned a study by Keele University into the trends in schizophrenia specifically to test the claims in the media of a link between it and cannabis. It looked at almost 600,000 patients and concluded that "..the incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and psychoses were either stable or declining" despite alleged increased use of allegedly more potent cannabis.

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