Risks of Cannabis

Sir, Your leading article on cannabis harms (Dangerous Skunk Jan 8th) is timely, as more countries drift casually towards legalisation.  I hope the UK will not be so careless.  As appalling as the cannabis mental health data is, it is but a very small part of its public health risks, which now obviously include damage to both the genes and the complex system that regulates and controls genes. Cannabis genotoxicity is expressed clinically as elevated rates of many cancers (testicular, breast, pancreas, thyroid and liver cancers), dozens of birth defects (thalidomide-like affecting the cardiovascular, nervous, chromosomal, digestive and kidney systems) and accelerated ageing of human cells and organisms. All of this accelerates exponentially at the higher doses which inevitably accompany cannabis legalisation. Our findings have been confirmed in Colorado, Canada, Australia, Hawaii, and The US and most recently in Europe and can be found via Google Scholar. There is much more to come.

Professor Stuart Reece

University of Western Australia

A response by David Raynes to the above letter from Professor Reece

Sent: 10 January 2022
To: letters@thetimes.co.uk
Subject: Dangers of formal Cannabis decriminalisation


We have been here before.  Police Commander Brian Paddick (now  LibDem Lord Paddick) led the discredited “Lambeth Experiment” a few years ago, announcing no action against Cannabis.

It was a similar formal and public relaxation of Policing which was much opposed by those who understood the dangers.

After that, in 2012 there was an Institute of Fiscal Studies  review, (Kelly& Rasul 2012),  of drug related hospitalizations (ER Room visits), not just for Cannabis, in Lambeth and adjoining areas.

They summarised their findings thus:

“We find the depenalization of cannabis had significant longer term impacts on hospital admissions related to the use of hard drugs. Among Lambeth residents, the impacts are concentrated among men, and are proportionately larger in younger cohorts, and among those with prior histories of hospitalization related to drug or alcohol use. The magnitudes of the impacts are large, corresponding to between 33% and 64% of baseline admission rates across age cohorts. The dynamic impacts across cohorts vary in profile with some cohorts experiencing hospitalization rates remaining above pre-intervention levels six years after the depenalization of cannabis was first introduced. We find evidence of positive spill over effects in hospitalization rates related to hard drugs among those resident in boroughs neighbouring Lambeth, and these are concentrated among cohorts without prior histories of hospitalizations related to the use of illicit drugs or alcohol. Finally, the severity of hospital admissions, as measured by the length of hospital stays, significantly increases for admissions related to the use of hard drugs and cannabis. Overall, our results suggest policing strategies related to the cannabis market have significant, nuanced and lasting impacts on public health”.

This finding was based on hard incontrovertible data.

National or local politicians should surely take note?


David Raynes, Executive Councillor

National Drug Prevention Alliance


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