Calls for Britain to liberalise existing drug laws are based on dishonest assertions
‘Prevention Doesn’t Work’
Prevention is more than education and does work if done well. Experience in other countries, notably in the USA and Sweden proves that. (SAMHSA Natl. H’hod Survey 1999. Safe Streets Prevention Partnership, Tacoma WA. 1999) Opium and cocaine were legal in the USA in the l880s and at that time America had the highest level of drug use per capita – ever. There were over 400,000 opium addicts. Today less than 5% of the US population uses illegal drugs – that is 12.5 million (which is 9.5 million fewer than in the late 1970s). Overall drug use in USA is down 50% .
‘Cannabis is not very harmful’
Cannabis in the l960s had a THC content of 0.5% and cannot be compared to today’s substance which averages 6% THC and can reach 27-30%. It is fat soluble with a half-life of 7 days and traces can be found in the body for up to 10-12 weeks. It affects body systems at the cellular level.
‘There’s no such thing as a Gateway drug’
There is now ample research that shows that the use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis by young people predicts the use of other illegal substances. Only 2% of non smokers also used cannabis compared to 56% of smokers (PAT survey 1991). Young people who use tobacco, alcohol and marijuana are up to 266 times more likely to use cocaine than those who don’t use any gateway drug. (CASA research l994). 20% of those who used marijuana 3-10 times went on to use cocaine.
‘Everybody’s doing drugs so we might as well legalise them’
Reliable surveys (for example, the Health Related Behaviour Survey from Exeter University) show that whilst 50% of young People under the age of 18 may try cannabis once or twice, only 20% use more often – and of those only half use regularly. Thus 80% of our youth are not involved with drugs. Research shows that drug users were more likely to support the legalisation of drugs and that ‘research on drug legalisation may be biased if the respondent is a drug user’.
‘Young people are getting criminal records just for smoking a joint’
This is simply not true. See Justice records for the UK, Sweden and the USA.
Cannabis is addictive. Around 10% of the population carry a gene which makes them susceptible to chemical dependency. For some it is alcohol for others cigarettes and/or cannabis – and later heroin or cocaine. (Gold l989) The more users at the youth level the more people there will be with a dependency problem; the Netherlands and Australia are good examples of this.
‘Cannabis can be smoked as a medicine so it can’t be harmful’
No medical authority has ever suggested that any substance could be used medicinally by smoking. Extracts of cannabis have yet to be shown to be useful adjuncts to existing medicines in which case they would be prescribed by doctors as pills, inhalants or injections, and then only after safety and efficacy were proven.