back to article Study clears cannabis of schizophrenia rap

Regular readers will recall the confused mess that is this government’s cannabis policy. There has been a drop in cannabis consumption since it was downgraded from Class B to C, but nevertheless they want to put it back up to Class B again. Yes, we know all about the argument that what you ingest is entirely your business, it …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    I asked John Major about this in the early 90s

    And his department sent me some interesting documents.

    Basically, cannabis is not illegal in this country because it's harmful. It's illegal because we are signatories on international agreements which say we will keep it illegal.

    The schizophrenia stuff merely diverts attention away from the fact that we don't have the power to legalize cannabis in our own country.

    Although a nice side-effect is that it makes sure that shmokers constantly have to "debate" their drug "abuse" with their parents and/or SOs who read about it in the papers and become "concerned". (Funny that my wife "knows" that cannabis causes schizophrenia but she doesn't know who John McCain is ...)

  2. Liam
    Thumb Up

    well said....

    finally... :)

    myself and many of my friends have been smoking 1/2 their lives. ok, so im lazy... well i have been since i was 12 so thats not the pot then ;)

    i hardly drink yet my chosen vice (much less harmful than alcohol) is now deemed to be as bad for you as speed!

    it just gives such bollocks signals from the government. im perfectly able to do all kinds of dangerous things - yet not allowed to do something that only mentalists should beware of.

  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why am i allowed to grow an oak tree but not a cannabis plant?

    i read (in the guardian?) a few weeks ago that number of deaths directly attributable to alcohol and tobacco was estimated to be around 150,000 per annum in the UK.

    contrastingly, the UN figure for deaths directly attributable to cannabis was...

    2.

    worldwide.

    ever.

    hypocrisy/pandering to the brewers, distillers and cigarette manufacturers?

    think of all that money and time wasted on policing, rehabiliation, looking after victims of robbery could be saved and out to good use (never mind the tax that could be raised if sales were licensed) if they just did the sensible thing.. or at least the halfway sensible and allowed people to grow their own. after all, its a naturally occuring plant, with a lethal dose somewhere in the same region as that of chocolate, and i can see no reason other than purely political to ban it.

    even my old man, approaching his 80's agrees.

    obviously he doesn't read the daily mail enough

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Crazy!!!!

    I'd love to see a report that compares booze to cannabis? that would be a good read and those that say it leads on to harder drugs what a crock of crap i bet alcohol leads on to harder drugs more than cannabis ever did, just go into a toliet in a pub at the weekend? all that booze in the pub is what makes 'em go in there not the spliff they had to unwind after work.

    No i'm sorry to say but i think in 1000 years time if where all still here they maybe looking at these times as the freedom crushing times they are like to live in (and it was a Labour goverment that started the suppression of freedom, go figure).....and its getting worse.....last politician to leave the interment camps please turn off the lights.

    Mines the coat with ID176485934832 - Anachist

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Operation Shock and Draw

    "there's not in fact one reason against the legalisation of the damn stuff and the increase in liberty and freedom that would result."

    Look, these findings do argue against the reclassification, and if they bear up to further study then yes, we should certainly consider legalisation.

    However, smoking pot doesn't really make you any more free, and such wild hyperbole just makes you look a bit of a moron.

    Minus that sentence, it was an excellent article.

  7. smeddy
    Thumb Up

    Good news

    Seems a rational study. Like it will make any difference to the Government though. So I'll continue feeling like a criminal and feeling paranoid (haha) about making weekly pickups outside a pub, being unsure the quality of what I'm smoking, all because the Government won't pull it's finger out and tax the thing. Maybe it will be easier just to back to cigarettes (80,000 UK deaths a year) and alcohol (55,000 deaths a year plus violence, stabbings, STDs etc.).

    *PS I pulled those figures out my butt but I don't think they're a million miles off, I'll stand corrected if someone does the research!

    /goes off for a joint and a good philosophy book

  8. zedenne
    Coat

    i was going to leave a comment...

    but by the time i got here i'd forgotten what it was.

    damn short term memory loss!

    who am i again?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    yay for green!

    Hooray I get to keep on kaning the herb and i wont go nuts....... wibble!

    Well I have been smokin for years and had no probs other than a knackered memory. Its about time there was sensible input on cannabis use, you cant OD on it (A whitey isnt an OD by the way) and it doesnt make you violent (just lazy and stupid). Unlike alcohol......

    The government should licence it to be sold to over 18's then they can tax the cr@p outta it and make a tasty profit just like with cigs and bboze.

    The tokers win, and the government wins.

    Sorted, I should be PM!

    Flame cos im sure there will be the odd daily mail reader who will be incenced by this lol.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cannabis? Alcohol?

    Ah well, England is not the only country where they are backpedaling .In, of all places, the Netherlands, legalization, and even the current relaxed status quo, are also under fire.

    The reason? Not a failure of the policy (report after report shows that it succeeded in separating the distribution circuits of cannabis and heavier substances), but relative localized problems in the border cities (Roosendaal, Maastricht) where stoned Belgians and French that have heavily restricted policies in their own country, pave the streets.

    However that kind of problem is not unique, and pretty normal for a semi-legalized drug. it's the same with the problems that e.g. Swedes that go to Estonia or Finland cause, in their quest for cheap alcohol.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Well, that's good news then.

    *puff* *puff*

  12. Mark Duncan

    Mmmkay

    Drugs are bad. And if you do drugs you're bad. 'Cause drugs are bad. Mmmkay.

  13. Mike Crawshaw
    Black Helicopters

    Beautifully Put...

    "Thus there really is no logical leg for the government to stand upon in its reclassification of cannabis: there's not in fact one reason against the legalisation of the damn stuff and the increase in liberty and freedom that would result."

    Of course there is. I refer you to your own words at the start of the article:

    "that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying themselves and that this situation cannot be allowed to continue."

    Enojying oneself? What an absurd concept. Don'tcha know that enjoying oneself is providing assistance to 'terrists'? Anyone who wants to have fun is obviously an outright bastard who might as well spit on the flag and send dismembered kittens to 'Our Boys In Iraq' (TM The Sun).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Far out man.

    Far out.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did inhale

    On a business trip to California a friend I met had grown some excellent buds. Everyone agreed they were 'the best shit' they had ever smoked. However for a week or so afterwards I did notice that words were on the tip of my tongue. This maybe was a mild memory loss effect but it was noticable and due to the smoking.

    It was annoying enough for me not to want it to happen again.

  16. b
    Go

    SKIN UP!!!

    cool, so it's just puritanical bullsh!t, then! (like everyone mostly suspected all along..)

    it should be pointed out that, so i heard, the asset recovery agency (the ARA), can get ahold of class B assets, but not class C and that that was one of the main reasons behind reverting it back class B. nice eh?

    indeed, we have yet to fully understand the benfits of hemp and weed..well, er, apart from that fact that a firin' up a great big spliff after me evenin' dinner, makes me feel REAL GOOD!

    GO, cos we can all skin up, now!

    cheers,

    bill

    p.s. stuff and nonsense: http://www.eupeople.net/forum

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    on related matters

    I welcome the new analysis, science can so easily subverted into fuelling the propaganda war, just through selective funding, fear of exposure etc. Downgrading cannabis was the ONLY good thing Blair did. We now need to address the supply chain, it is not reasonable to expect the market demand to be met solely by criminal. How about treating the growing of a few plants much like home-brewing of beer, its legal as long as you don't sell it.... ?

    Oh, and btw, if you like the odd puff, have you tried Salvia Divinorum? Its legal (for now) and OMG its the most wonderful 8 minutes you will ever spend, in a good setting, with e.g. "move on up" playing. Put hand in pocket and go for the 20x or 35x extract, take one lungful only and hold it.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    No surprise here

    Good. That's about as surprising as finding out that bears go to the toilet in the woods sometimes.

    I used to work with people with a range of mental illnesses, and Schizophrenics were the most common. During that time, I formed the very strong impression that many regular tokers were not in the grips of drug-induced illnesses, it was more self-medication than anything else.

    To be clear, I could not say that cannabis helped to alleviate any clinical symptoms directly, but I can guarantee you that it helped some users cope with the symptoms better. One client I worked with was prone to bouts of violence, during which we could either let him have a pint and a fight, tranquilise him to the point of unconsciousness and let him sleep for a couple of days, or we could turn a blind eye while he had a spliff, knocked off the Times crossword and then went to work as normal. Which do we think is better for everyone?

    Purely anecdotal of course, I'm no pathologist.

    We need proper studies like this to counter the misinformation in a lot of the media - they keep assuming that "link" means "cannabis use causes illness", when most of the "link" evidence is actually that it's the other way round.

    Mine's the one with a Cheech and Chong video and a great big fat spliff in the pocket (can you hear the voices too?)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just legalise it

    would make the world a safer place.

    I would open a coffee house, with good internet access and food, a place to chill away from the recession.

    In fact it could turn the economy around, reduce the amount of alcohol related problems, free up some space in the legal system.

    Aren't most of the anti cannabis league dead by now, not sure if anyone would see this as a negative any more, pretty much everyone has toked, sure the 60s lot are a bunch of hypocrites, but they are fickle enough to turn on a dime bag.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What have you been smoking, Tim?

    It's hard to know where to begin with Tim's articles. They quite often go along sensibly for a couple of steps before shooting off on a tangent and denying the previous steps ever happened.

    Here's the nub of the matter: if you place a priceless Ming vase at the top of some stairs and some numpty comes along and knocks it over, is that the fault of the numpty or the vase-arranger? Similarly, if someone is pre-disposed to mental illness, is it the fault of cannabis that it acted as the trigger when the person might otherwise have continued on happily without trouble? I would suggest both are equally the problem; there's no need to pick a single cause. Tim tries to play down the role of the weed but it's a somewhat selective view.

    There's also a contradiction in the suggestion that warnings on marijuana would be appropriate, ignoring the fact that mental illness, by definition, often leaves a person incapable of making informed, rational decisions.

    Maybe I'm just biased. Without exception, everyone I know who still smokes has .... erm .... issues. Of course, perhaps they would have anyway, but those who have given up are noticeably more in-touch with reality. Maybe I'm just biased. Or maybe I'm informed.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    But does it make you dopey?

    I used to teach basic IT. One student was a heavy user; I had to set thr 'doubleclick' speed on his computer to the slowest possible value and even the he missed the second click most of the time!

  22. abigsmurf

    myth

    "contrastingly, the UN figure for deaths directly attributable to cannabis was...

    2.

    worldwide.

    ever.

    "

    Rubbish. How about a link from the UN (not some sourceless pro-drug site) to back that up? Why would they even bother measuring such a figure?

    There are plenty of road deaths caused by people driving while high they just generally get lumped in with other DUI stats.

  23. Mad Dave

    Tokers have known this for years

    The 'war on drugs' should really be named the 'war on freedom'.

    One of the main reasons that cannabis (and certain other drugs) are illegal is that it provides a base point for the idea that the state can tell an individual what they can and cannot do with their own body and mind.

    This has been sustained over many, many years by a campaign of lies, and disinformation.

    A prime example of this can be seen here : http://i38.tinypic.com/103c0w4.png

    Cannabis being turned into heroin? I's like to see that being done. Maybe someone could turn this block of lead I have into gold as well?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    gateway drug?

    Cannabis is indeed a gateway to harder and more dangerous drugs. It's extremely common for cannabis users to later become addicted to nicotine.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Don't code and smoke

    For an IT angle: have you read code written by a pot-head? It might work (after a fashion) but its indecipherable. Coding and smoking pot don't mix :)

    Mine's the sensible jacket with the leather elbow patches.

  26. Brian
    Coat

    To the AC...

    who pointed out that having a toke doesn't make you any freer, the point is that *being able to have a toke without fear of hassle* makes us all freer, whether we choose to indulge or not.

    I've been in a mental hospital (as a patient), and the schizophrenics and those suffering from psychotic episodes generally used to self medicate on anything that was available - much as polar bears like myself tend to do (alcohol and a bit of smoke in my case).

    Correlation is not causation, and a truly sane policy would legalise and tax cannabis in the same way as alcohol - I'd rather smoke than wreck my liver, any day of the week.

    Mine's the one with the king-size Rizlas and a nice few buds in the pocket.

  27. adnim

    Wasting of police time and resource

    There are criminals out there committing real crimes, decriminalising cannabis would save police a great deal of time and free them to pursue said real criminals. Yet the argument would remain that profits from drug trafficking/dealing fuel other more nasty crimes such as terrorist funding and forced prostitution. There is a solution to this, simply allow the cultivation of cannabis for personal use. If dealing remained illegal it would give the police an avenue by which they could eliminate the diversion of profits from cannabis sales into more objectionable criminal activities.

    The ignorance of the masses regarding cannabis use along with misleading propaganda allows a relatively harmless drug such as cannabis to be deemed nasty and socially destructive. Whilst the use of genuinely destructive drugs such as alcohol to be socially acceptable.

    Considering the amount of NHS resource given to treating the victims of alcohol abuse, the victims of alcohol related violence and the cost of policing city centers during pub and club closing times, I would have thought it would be more socially responsible for our government to encourage cannabis usage as an alternative to getting pissed and breaking someones face in a fit of alcohol induced rage.

    It would be interesting to find out if the cost of policing and treating alcohol related crimes and injuries exceeds the tax income from alcohol sales. There is no choice here, resource has to be expended to protect society from socially irresponsible drinkers. Where is the benefit to society of busting someone for smoking a spliff on a park bench?

  28. breakfast
    Happy

    Surprise

    Mr Worstall can write a decent article when he's not out of his skull on his usual libertarian free-market pixie-dust.

    Who knew?

  29. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Boffin

    Other Fallbacks

    Never mind, there is a cast iron effect of cannabis that will result in it still being banned: it gives you the munchies. There is even a drug, rimonabant, that blocks a subset of cannabinoid receptors and helps you lose weight to bolster the science (rimonabant makes you suicidal though).

    So there you have it, instead of banning it to save us from schizophrenia they will ban it to prevent obesity. Easy, and supported by such august bodies as the British Heart Foundation no doubt.

    However nice to see the most likely of the scenarios wrt schizophrenia finally proven, thanks for the report.

  30. Frumious Bandersnatch

    economic argument

    Interesting to see this article after your ridiculous bashing of New Scientist recently. I'm probably being a little Machiavellian in thinking that you feel the need to soft shoe away from that one and regain some "green cred", but still...

    One thing that did strike me, though, was why didn't you take cannabis legalisation as an example of something that could be done to help the economy/increase GDP (through conversion of black market revenue into taxable revenue) instead of your fanciful notion of creating a nation of singers (ok, I know that was just an example, and I'm almost mis-characterising what you said)? While it's nice to see you debunking the hysteria over schizophrenia, it would also be nice if, as an economist, you could make an economic argument too. I'm sure I'd read that article with interest, should you choose to write it. (hint hint)

    One final (pedantic) point: you still don't seem to notice the difference between "who" and "whom":

    > [levels of schizophrenia are stable] or even falling, depending upon who[m] you ask

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    When the GDP gets too moribund...

    ...and the government has to look for a new statistic it can put a positive spin on, and gross happiness product (GHP) is revived, maybe incentives will change?

  32. Richard Jukes
    Happy

    Heh

    Smoking in moderation is fine....but smoke too much and your brain will end up like a wet sponge. I used to smoke an 8th to a 1/4th a day (sometimes more) and my brain felt like a wet sponge. I've just had about three weeks off it (longest time in about 5 years) and yes I can say I am more mentally alert, I am more active and I feel smarter.

    So in short its not bad for your health, it just makes you dumber, lazier and apathetic. Remind me again why this isnt being rammed down our throats? I thought keeping the lower classes stupid, lazy and in a persistent attitude of 'BAH! I CBA!' is perfect government policy? I mean just look at TV...

    But saying all that, Im a toker and always will be, I love the taste, I love the effects and I love the culture, and just as others have stated, I myself am not a big drinker, I like to smoke. And in my vast experience of the law, the average copper understands this. They really couldnt careless about cannabis - they are after the crack, the coke and the smack.

    I personally like to apply something called the 'Zanzibar Test' to whether a drug should be legal; imagine a club turning out at 4am in the morning, if 3000 people emerge onto the streets high, lets say on coke - then there WILL be trouble, if they are high on weed, then there's just going to be que's for the local kebab shop!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    @myth

    Thats not really a valid point is it, you shouldnt drive under the influence of anything including certain legal medications. That doesnt mean that cannabis when used in the home or under "safe" conditions causes overdoses, violence etc. Thats just saying you shouldnt drive when spannered. No you shouldnt its naughty.

  34. Zmodem

    t3h w33d

    catch yourself saying yeahhh cosmic. and yeahhh im british. every half hour when you walk along the street after time traveling in your majical dreams. might catch a lion asleep on your living room floor.

    besides that. its has nothing to do with making you a skitz

  35. Frumious Bandersnatch
    Stop

    @abigsmurf

    > Why would they even bother measuring such a figure?

    Why would they [or the WHO or anyone else involved in formulating policy for that matter] bother measuring deaths attributable to heroin? Or alcohol? Or heart disease? I think the proper question is "why wouldn't they?"

    > There are plenty of road deaths caused by people driving while high they just generally get lumped in with other DUI stats.

    Since you're the one asking for supporting figures, I think it's only fair that you support this assertion with figures. Anything I've read about cannabis and driving suggests that people tend to be more risk-averse after consuming cannabis, and thus less likely to be the cause of an accident (use Google to find these, natch). But I'd like to see your supporting evidence, for the reason already given.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    the only reason for the downgrade

    Was because Blair wanted to go into Iraq. How else was he going to keep the masses of the left quiet? He downgraded pot so nobody could be bothered to go and protest. :)

    Lets not kid ourselves, go read Jack herer's book http://www.jackherer.com/chapters.html and educate yourselves as to the reasons why cannabis is illegal, yet another great thing we can thank the great US of Assholes for.

    Ahh to be an old time pot smoker...

  37. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    @ myth

    Will the House of Lords do?

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199798/ldselect/ldsctech/151/15105.htm

    Section 4.3:

    "The acute toxicity of cannabis and the cannabinoids is very low; no-one has ever died as a direct and immediate consequence of recreational or medical use (DH QQ 219 223). Official statistics record two deaths involving cannabis (and no other drug) in 1993, two in 1994 and one in 1995 (HC WA 533, 21 January 1998); but these were due to inhalation of vomit. Animal studies have shown a very large separation (by a factor of more than 10,000) between pharmacologically effective and lethal doses."

    Four in 3 years in the UK is not "2, worldwide, ever", but it's unarguably pretty low.

    Is it safe to drive on? No. Neither is alcohol, and you'll note that while alcohol is legal to consume, it's illegal to drive afterwards. Personally I'm not a fan of the stuff - I have friends with an unhealthy dependence on it and I'd much rather have a drink myself. But should it be banned? Given this study and the one referenced above, based on health grounds alone, probably not.

  38. Steve

    @myth

    "There are plenty of road deaths caused by people driving while high they just generally get lumped in with other DUI stats."

    Well that's fine then - you can classify those as "deaths caused by cannabis" when you are willing to classify every person killed in an alcohol-based DUI as "death by alcohol poisoning".

    @AC

    "Similarly, if someone is pre-disposed to mental illness, is it the fault of cannabis that it acted as the trigger when the person might otherwise have continued on happily without trouble? I would suggest both are equally the problem; there's no need to pick a single cause. Tim tries to play down the role of the weed but it's a somewhat selective view."

    You're missing the point. If cannabis is a "trigger" rather than the cause, then there is no justification for banning it's use entirely just to prevent the non-existant explosion in schizophrenia cases. Furthermore, the study quoted shows that using cannabis had no effect on the probability of developing schizophrenia, so Tim wasn't trying to "play down the role" of cannabis, he was pointing out the fact that it had been _eliminated_ as a cause.

    "Maybe I'm just biased. Without exception, everyone I know who still smokes has .... erm .... issues. Of course, perhaps they would have anyway, but those who have given up are noticeably more in-touch with reality. Maybe I'm just biased. Or maybe I'm informed."

    Ever heard of selection bias? The fourth paragraph of the article states:

    "There is certainly a correlation, but we should still want to know about causation before we take any further action. For it is possible, and it is a view advanced by some (like myself last time), that those who are about to become schizophrenic dose themselves on cannabis as they are known to on alcohol and any other substance that comes to hand to still the voices."

    Maybe you should get yourself "informed" about the difference between correlation and causation.

  39. N1AK

    @ACtards

    Why is it people defending the goverments position have to post as AC, do they realise their arguement is weak and not want to be attached to it?

    "However, smoking pot doesn't really make you any more free, and such wild hyperbole just makes you look a bit of a moron."

    What are you on about, please explain how the above can be true without also defending the following statements:

    > Being allowed outside of a goverment facility doesn't make you anymore free

    > Choosing what food you eat doesn't make you anymore free

    > Not having to wear a tagging device doesn't make you anymore free

    > Being allowed to reproduce doesn't make you anymore free.

    Everytime you are denied the freedom to do something you 'are' a little less free, sometimes this sacrifice is worthwhile (especially where that freedom would negatively affect others).

  40. Nemo Metis
    Thumb Up

    legalise and tax it?

    Yes it should be legalised, all this article does is really inform a lot of people who already could have taken a guess at what it says turned out to be right. Thing is, if they legalised it, it's not something you can tax, because people would just grow their own, and not buy rom the corner shop like you do ciggies. The government really don't have any motive to legalise it, save to stop the lobbyists shouting at them every five minutes.

    Good article though

  41. abigsmurf

    @Frumious Bandersnatch

    You cannot expect someone to maintain a hightened amount of concentration for long periods. they may start off concentrating hard enough to compensate but over time they'll revert back to a standard level. It's then they'll be a risk. When you get unscientific experiments which support the "driver will compensate for it" viewpoint like the one on top gear, they're only driving for a minute or two.

    In fact the cautiousness can be detrimental, over compensating for adverse conditions, not performing emergency overtaking.

    There's a fairly balanced look at studies over on the DFT site

    http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme3/cannabisanddrivingareviewoft4764

  42. Chris Thorpe

    Dumber, lazier and apathetic.

    @Richard Jukes - 'So in short its not bad for your health, it just makes you dumber, lazier and apathetic.'

    Shhh. If the government gets wind of that, they won't just legalise it.

    They'll make it compulsory.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Too many self-interested people

    1. For every scientific survey, another will have a different conclusion and most of us will ignore the ones that are inconvenient, especially if they concern our own habits.

    2. My daughter was very, very, very ill. I visited her in one hospital in the North and one in the Sourth of England. I saw rather a lot of patients. I spoke to a lot of staff. My sister-in-law worked with youngsters with various problems and backgrounds from illness to just bad families, in a third area (she had to deal with a couple of suicides where the child went home for the weekend and returned at once to "harmless" cannabis, plus others with less final results). I can assure you that those who have to pick up the fallen do not agree with this "harmless" judgement and will tell you that the combination of cannabis and lager is filling the hospitals. I live in a country (not Holland) where the stuff was tolerated for a while, even being sold in shops and openly smoked on trains. I can say without a doubt that, at least in young people, smoking cannabis does them no favours. Just ask teachers trying to teach them. Even my daughter is strongly against it now.

    3. As anyone with serious, practical knowledge (not as a patient) can tell you, the effects are not just loss of memory and motivation (and libido apparently, plus loss of normal dreams); people react differently, as one would expect of drugs playing with your brain chemistry and some do become violent and their judgement about the safety of working or driving under the influence is rather less reliable than that of most drinkers.

    4. Since when did the bad effects of, for instance, too much alcohol, smoking or fatty food justify the propagation of another problem? Just because nicotine is freely available (though being more and more restricted) why would you want to further more stuff?

    5. Freedom! What would you know? Should I be free to take what I want from whom I want? To lie in a drugged or drunken stupor across bus seats or even on the pavement? Whose freedom? What about my freedom not to smell the stuff when out? Not to have to allow for idiots unaware of their mental state and not caring? I am relishing the spreading freedom of being able to eat in a restaurant or drink in a pub without choking on some nerd's cigarette smoke, brushing his ash off the chair and table and having to air my clothes for hours to get his stink out of them afterwards. Why is some inadequate person's freedom to fill his void with cannabis more important than mine to have clean air and not worry about the pothead in a car? Oh, read some real figures: several years ago it was all ready recognised that "recreational" drugs (i.e. not nedicinally necessary) are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents at work and on the road. And do not go on about responsible smoking or ingestion in your own home, unless you intend to stay there (no children in the house please) for a couple of daysafter your dose: I assume you do know it accumulates and the traces take nearly a month to clear completely from your system.

    I am generally all for maximum freedom and personal responsibility. But the abiltiy of drug consumers to fool themselves is not reassuring. I could not care how great you feel on it. Perhaps I get my kicks out of dodging cars on the motorway: hardly a justification or evidence of lack of harm.

  44. Avi
    Coat

    Pot-induced schizophrenia?

    I've been smoking it for years and we're still fine

  45. Zmodem

    the harder drugs

    weed doesnt lead nowhere. its gurlie to whiskey n ice. rock n roll and cornish pasties. all night down the pub. the working class can no longer chain smoke in standing around the pool table. see godzilla and beat his ass like arnie. and say im british again

  46. David Hicks
    Unhappy

    @Too many self-interested people AC

    Well done, you've just provided a lot of anecdotes and conjecture backed up by not a single fact, statistic or study.

    The fact is that your anecdotes are based on experience in a hospital ad therefore your experiences self select to the catastrophic.

    Not to mention you have not a shred of evidence that any of what you said was caused in any way by cannibis.

    Did you consider that cannibis might be a symptom of suicidal tendencies in teenagers? That teenagers who are feeling that low, depressed and isolated may turn to drug use rather than drug-use make them that way?

    No, in the same way as people in the 50s demonised rock music for making people behave a certain way, you have made a flawed assumption that weed caused the things you have seen. This study points out just how wrong you are.

    And as for your right not to smell anything that offends your delicate nose - f*ck off mate. My freedom to fart trumps you right not to be nasally offended any day, or are we banning that next?

  47. Paul Buxton

    @N1AK

    "Why is it people defending the goverments position have to post as AC, do they realise their arguement is weak and not want to be attached to it?"

    It's because they've bought into the Government philosophy hook line and sinker and are therefore terrified to stand up and be counted. They honestly believe that all the people with names on these boards will band together and hunt them down like the dogs they are and stab them to death whilst wearing hoodies and screaming "infidel".

    It's not cannabis that makes you paranoid, it's the fucking Government.

    Oh, and it's also because their arguments are weak and they don't want to be attached to them. ;-)

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >weed doesnt lead nowhere

    I suspect it does, although just because it's illegal, the people you buy it off will also have other drugs, and will be willing to sell them. Legalise it and that goes away.

    @AC : Too many self-interested people

    (Excellent insane rant BTW

    >5. Freedom! What would you know?

    'Tis true, freedom has become so rare, I'm not even sure I would know.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Re: Too many self-interested people

    "1. For every scientific survey, another will have a different conclusion and most of us will ignore the ones that are inconvenient, especially if they concern our own habits."

    Strange that you should mention that as you've done a remarkably similar thing with anecdotal evidence, no firm facts and apparently without even reading the article.

    Now may I suggest you go back to signing yourself "Outraged of Tunbridge Wells" on the Daily Wail letters page?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Deaths through cannabis

    Last I heard there was only one death that had ever been directly attributed to cannabis.

    Some guy got crushed under a bale of it :)

    BTW, at "my daughter was ill blah blah blah" ...

    1. As you are doing now, you mean?

    2. Cannabis should not be available to minors; no one says it should

    3. Violence and DUI are already outlawed; what causes them is hardly relevant; alcohol is a far worse offender in this respect as you well know

    4. The point is to make less harmful alternatives available

    5. WTF?

  51. Chris

    I know someone..

    Who smokes an extremely large amount of pot every day. Like.. a lot. I smoke occasionally on the weekends, and I've had him over - he smokes so much pot, you can't see in the room anymore, and he's still nearly sober. He smokes up, then goes to work. In roofing and carpentry. He works 12 hour days high, and does a better job then anyone else I've known. It's fucking insane.

    On the flip side, I know another, older lady, who has really bad arthritis (who was an alcoholic, but can't drink because of the meds) who smokes a very large amount every day, and is basically a lay around vegetable.

    It's all in moderation, or body chemistry. I choose to moderate, just like people who might have a drink on fridays after work. I tend to lay on my couch, eat some chips, and watch movies or play video games. On monday, I get up for work and school with no problems.

    Oh, and my depression? Had it for years, don't really have it anymore after I started smoking. Because I can have that day to zone out at the end of the week and recharge, not stress, etc.

  52. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Boffin

    Anecdotes do not trum Science

    @ Anonymous Coward

    You describe a serious study as a 'survey' then use the old saw about scientists changing their mind to dismiss every bit of science, then you regale us with a collection of anecdotes. Ever heard of confirmation bias? or the fact that those who work in the mental health field only see the problem cases? They do not see all the cannabis users who do not have problems, so their perceptions are skewed. It is a normal human reaction and why have science to tell us what is really going on.

    Hence your anecdotes and their skewed impressions do not and cannot trump the stats from the study. So unless and until you have a methodological criticism of the study showing why we should disregard it your anecdotes are nothing more than hot air.

  53. Joerg

    Too many using drugs and commenting excited of an insane liberalization

    Any drugs including alcohol and smoke actually destroy cells brain neurons and alter the correct flowing and use of chemical elements in the brain and whole body. What people think is pleasure it's actually the body in pain and requesting you to stop it, failing to do so it's what causes your mind to get confused because not just the brain but the whole body keeps sending out of order signals of pain an warnings for what you are doing to yourself and the living tissues that let you be alive.

  54. Goblin
    Coat

    My short-term memory is fine

    Now what's this post about anyway???

    Forget it.

    Mine's the one with the bong in the pocket.

  55. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Alert

    An abomination

    @Zmodem

    You have it right. People who drink whisky and ice are absolutely the lowest of the low. Water should be provided in a jug on the bar and there the matter should end. If you need your drink to be so cold you can't taste it then why are you drinking it in the first place? Yes, that comment is aimed at you Mr Drinking Guinness 'Extra Cold' it's because of people like you that I have to ask for 'normal' Guinness now or else I get something cold tasteless and black instead.

    /rant

  56. JRallo
    Joke

    @Wasting of police time and resource

    That will only free them up to write more speeding tickets. Not to mention the surge in doughnut prices as demand exceeds supply! We need to spare the round fried treat for our children's children. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

    There, it was said ;-)

  57. Jonathan
    Happy

    @myth By abigsmurf

    myth

    By abigsmurf Posted Thursday 6th November 2008 14:48 GMT

    "contrastingly, the UN figure for deaths directly attributable to cannabis was...

    2.

    worldwide.

    ever.

    "

    Rubbish. How about a link from the UN (not some sourceless pro-drug site) to back that up? Why would they even bother measuring such a figure?

    There are plenty of road deaths caused by people driving while high they just generally get lumped in with other DUI stats.

    re:"How about a link from the UN (not some sourceless pro-drug site) to back that up? "

    you are correct, i should have backed it up/posted references

    article:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/oct/02/drugsandalcohol.drugspolicy

    or, if you want the report itself:

    "http://www.beckleyfoundation.org/policy/cannabis_commission.html"

    "A report on cannabis prepared for next year's UN drug policy review will suggest that a "regulated market" would cause less harm than the current international prohibition. The report, which is likely to reopen the debate about cannabis laws, suggests that controls such as taxation, minimum age requirements and labelling could be explored.

    The Global Cannabis Commission report, which will be launched today at a conference in the House of Lords, has reached conclusions which its authors suggest "challenge the received wisdom concerning cannabis". It was carried out for the Beckley foundation, a UN-accredited NGO, for the 2009 UN strategic drug policy review.

    There are, according to the report, now more than 160 million users of the drug worldwide. "Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco," according to the report. "Historically, there have only been two deaths worldwide attributed to cannabis, whereas alcohol and tobacco together are responsible for an estimated 150,000 deaths per annum in the UK alone."

    The report, compiled by a group of scientists, academics and drug policy experts, suggests that much of the harm associated with cannabis use is "the result of prohibition itself, particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment." Policies that control cannabis, whether draconian or liberal, appear to have little impact on the prevalence of consumption, it concluded.

    "In an alternative system of regulated availability, market controls such as taxation, minimum age requirements, labelling and potency limits are available to minimise the harms associated with cannabis use," said the report.

    It claimed that only through a regulated market could young people be protected from the increasingly potent forms of cannabis, such as skunk. It is intended that the report will form a blueprint for nations seeking to develop a "more rational and effective approach to the control of cannabis".

    The authors suggest there is evidence that "the current system of cannabis regulation is not working, and ... there needs to be a serious rethink if we are to minimise the harms caused by cannabis use."

    Last night, the report was welcomed by drug law reform organisations. "The Beckley foundation are to be congratulated for the clarity of their call for cannabis supply to be brought within government control," said Danny Kushlick of Transform. "We look forward to the same analysis being applied to heroin and cocaine."

    The report is being launched at a two-day conference, which will be attended by leading figures in the drugs policy world.

    The conclusions are unlikely to be embraced by the government or the Conservative party, both of which are opposed to relaxing restrictions on cannabis use."

    I think that has covered it :-)

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alcohol and tobacco far worse

    Self-harm from alcohol and tobacco is far worse. If the government's argument was valid, they would have made them both Class A or B drugs long ago.

    If cannabis was used as a treatment for alcohol abuse, there would be 1000s of lives saved each year.

  59. Schultz Silver badge

    Pointless legislation...

    but why bother changing it? Relax, have a smoke ...

  60. C. P. Cosgrove
    Dead Vulture

    Chris Cosgrove

    An interesting article, but I fear Tim Worstall misses the point slightly. I will put my hands up and admit I use caffeine, nicotine and alchohol - the last at least in reasonable moderation - but I have the advantage here in that these are 'legal' substances and therefore subject to public quality control. This means that when I pour myself a whisky, I am reasonably certain that it contains ethyl and not methyl alchohol.

    It is entirely reasonable for the state to minimise our opportunities to harm others, but self harm is individual responsibility.

    I have argued for some years that the biggest part of the 'Drug Problem' is the social cost of the crime involved in paying for people's habits and the use of drug money in financing other crimes and indeed terrorism.

    A very strong case can be made for the legalisation of all drugs : A reduction in the street price; the enforcement of quality control standards; a reduction in the funding of other crime and terrorism; even a reduction in the death rate among heroin users - often due to over-strength heroin being supplied. Give me another five minutes and I will think of others.

    This is a subject I feel strongly about - I have a nephew who has done time for heroin related manslaughter, and another relative who has done time for dealing. My nephew might still be a heroin addict, but it is much less likely he would have finished up in jail if every one involved had been able to go into their corner store, or corner Boots, for their fixes, and the lad whose death he was involved in would probably still be alive.

    The government could even sell drug legalisation as part of 'The War on Terror' - after all, doesn't most of the World's heroin come from Afghanistan ?

    The tombstone because I don't live in hope on this subject.

  61. John Savard Silver badge

    Reasons

    Why are drugs like heroin and cocaine illegal? Because the government is felt to have a legitimate interest in preventing people from doing things that would make them unfit for employment or military service. Maybe in the case of marijuana, that is going too far.

    But I know that in Canada it's almost a waste of time to debate this, because we could hardly afford to have the U.S. close off the border with us.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    I'm in two minds

    about this whole schizophrenia thing.

  63. Warhelmet

    Reefer Madness

    Bongtastic!

    I'll do something more educated tomorrow.

  64. Jason
    Happy

    A good way to get hope

    Step 1) Sit at computer and fire firefox up

    Step 2) Prepare skins

    Step 3) Open El Reg and find an article on weed

    Step 4) Roll spliff

    Step 5) Smoke spliff and enjoy it and the article

    An excellent article, and an excellent smoke, thank you Tim and my dealer :D

    I'll get my coat after passing this on

  65. Tom Silver badge

    I demand the right to a cannabis induced psychosis

    or running a bank as it is more properly known.

    We all know weed is a gateway drug - once you start on the tabacco theres no knowing where it might end up.

    @abigsmurf 'You cannot expect someone to maintain a hightened amount of concentration for long periods' Too right - lets ban people from driving for more than 1hr after an 8 hour day. You ever had to drive with those work crazed nutters on the M3 of an evening?

    Have you all started to notice how a lot of the law is in fact just market protection. Government of the people by big business for big business!

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    flawed and selective analysis

    Analysis contradicts itself. A higher incidence of later schizophrenia could indicate either predisposition or causation. No higher incidence of later symptoms would disprove both. But what the author also fails to mention in his irresponsible piece of propagandizing is there are several other recent studies, some much larger (e.g. 50,000 in a study conducted over 27 years) which show a highly increased risk of developing schizophrenia.

    If the reporter actually bothered to talk to people who work in the psychiatric profession, he would be aware that there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence (like there used to be with cigarettes and cancer). And if anyone actually cares to look at who is lobbying the government to upgrade, you'll find that it isn't Rupert Murdoch or the blue-rinse army but mental health advocacy groups.

  67. Nebulo

    I once met this guy

    ... whose schizophrenia could be said to have been "cannabis-induced".

    He'd gone down to London to score, woke up in hospital with his head smashed in, no money, no dope. He was never the same again.

    Now, *I* would have called that "government drug policy induced schizophrenia", since having his head smashed in was the direct result of his having to deal with the sort of people who regard that as an acceptable way of doing business. But then, since I've smoked the odd bit myself over the years, my perception must be faulty.

    Other than him, though, out of hundreds of tokers I've known over several decades, not a one. Or maybe smoking just made me so dumb, lazy and apathetic I didn't notice.

    Nice story (even without an IT angle). Watch it disappear.

  68. Chris G Silver badge

    Cannabis isn't addictive

    If that is the case, then why are so many people so defensive about it? So ready to insist it does them no harm? Physiologically, it almost certainly is not addictive, unlike heroin etc but psychologically? It certainly looks that way!

    I really don't care what people do to relax and/or entertain themselves, whether it's any kind of drugs or drink or porn, it doesn't matter. What matters is when a thing affects the world at large, or me personally, occasional tokers are for me no problem but a few folks that I know smoke weed all day long and they are, without a doubt self centred, unfocused fuckwits and when driving or using power tools a danger to themselves and the people around them.

  69. Mark
    IT Angle

    re: But does it make you dopey

    And I know lots of people who have to do the same. In one case, arthritis. In another because "double click" is silly, they just cannot remember to do it. You don't "double click" the remote to change channels, do you? I'm not talking about forgets, really does not understand. You tell and demonstrate and show and they follow. And then when you stop telling them, they can't remember to double click.

    For some others, they click and wait and don't click again for a bit "because I don't want to do too many clicks". Which is somewhat right: triple click can get you multiple copies (which, taking longer to start up looks like it hasn't worked, so you double/triple click again).

    If nobody needed the time between clicks to be so long, MS would not have let it go there.

  70. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    IT Angle

    whos the dope?

    I have to work with a few youngsters, all of them have been pot smokers, however 1 has laid off the stuff for the past year.

    the change in his behaviour is quite something, originally it mostly varying from near normal to apathetic to violent,with micro seconds between each mood swing.

    Hes now approaching normal(whatever that is) , getting into helping me out with the robots and can learn stuff instead of going 'huh'?

    He also tells me that he feels happier and better in his head since laying off the stuff

    Ok most of the hardened pot smokers will go 'blart' at this, but it does affect people in different ways, and not all of them good.

    And for the record... I used to do speed and booze...until caught by the police

    Boris

    And where's the IT angle then?

  71. This post has been deleted by its author

  72. David Wilkinson
    Unhappy

    I don't smoke anything myself, but ...

    I am kinda tired of my country wasting time and energy investigating, arresting, prosecuting and jailing people for using a substance that is far less of a problem than alcohol.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Again...

    Another bit of real news, where the other ("official") outlets will probably just ignore it like everything else that could make a difference to mankind and our disposition here on this crazy ship we call Earth :P

  74. Alfazed
    Joke

    I hate people who take drugs ...

    like police officers, customs officers, etc ....

    ALF

  75. Dean Ayers
    Flame

    lol

    Did you hear now mps are demanding clarkson to be sacked?

    We cant even have "edgy" comedy here in the uk because of the politically correct croud and the sheep that follow them.

    So im sorry but no matter how many reports show how "safe" this drug can be, it wont mean a thing.

    Hell, Jesus himself could be reborn with a huge weed tattoo and a note from god stating its okay to smoke it and still it would be illegal.

    Deal with it, nothing will change in our life time :(

  76. Lukin Brewer

    Doesn't alter the real reason it was banned.

    For most of history, paper was made from hemp fibre, usually recycled hemp fabric (rags) or rope. (Yes, the reason why governments used to be so keen on hemp-growing was that they needed the rope to rig their navies.) The wood pulp processes used today were invented during the 20th century, and produced an acidic paper of inferior quality which turned yellow fairly quickly in contact with air. Using wood pulp was capital-intensive (you need to harvest the right sorts of wood), but the processes could be mechanised, automated and scaled up massively. Hemp fibre paper production was labour-intensive (almost to the point of being hand-made) and hardly scaled at all.

    However, a hemp pulp process, that could be mechanised and automated, was under development in the 1930s. Production of the hemp itself required very little capital. This represented a threat to the wood pulp producers.

    The push to ban the growing of cannabis came from paper and press magnate William Randolph Hearst (the father of "yellow" journalism - see above), who wanted to protect his paper business, Du Pont Chemicals, which had invented and patented the wood pulp process that Hearst used and which wanted to remove competition for its newly-developed Nylon fibre, and Andrew Mellon, US Treasury Secretary, owner of the Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh, and Hearst’s chief financial backer. They bought and lobbied the rest of government into line.

    The drug aspects of cannabis were just the excuse used for this piece of market fixing (the free market - they've heard of it!). It has been theorised that if the cannabis plant had had its psychoactive properties but not its core of useful fibre, the big US-led push to make it illegal might never have come about.

  77. The Mighty Spang
    Thumb Down

    ok legalise it but...

    only for consumption in your own home. the stuff stinks worse than tobacco, i fucking loathe catching a mouthful of it whilst walking past the jobcentre.

    plus if that clause isn't put in i can see an absolute shed load of industrial accidents happening

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed

    @joerg - "pleasure is actually the body in pain"

    Sounds like a kinky sex-fiend.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My anecdotal rant.

    I know a fair few people who've smoked weed and had mental health problems of varying severity. Note that I am not blaming cannabis, and in a couple of cases other drugs -notably acid- have been involved. To the ones who are getting their lives back on track, giving up smoking weed has been a major benefit; a fact that seems clear to them and others around them. As such, I find the talk of 'self-medication' a bit difficult to relate to. I've known people who made me feel that if they stopped smoking they may well resolve their problems. I don't totally rule out that it can be helpful in some cases; I'm happy for the poster above who's feels some respite from their depression but I'm afraid that people who treat it as a therapy may often be deluding themselves. "A day of the week to zone out and recharge, not stress" sounds positive - could probably use more of that myself, although I'll do without the drugs. In my view, cases where cannabis is any benefit to the mentally ill are the exception rather than the rule.

    I used to smoke quite a bit of pot, and got into psychedelics; the latter of which sent me pretty loopy for a short spell. Following this episode, it was fairly clear to me and most of my friends that me smoking was not going to be a good idea. I can even hazily remember when I was in (stratospherically) high spirits and generally fairly out of it, speaking to a councillor who'd told me he smoked pot, and him saying something like 'imagine yourself on a beach with your friends, smoking a joint...' and at that point realising that I'd really rather not. (That bloke also recommended I read some beatnik poetry.... amazing what you can get on the NHS... unless that was something private and my parents didn't mention it. Normally if they think your problems are drug-induced, they're not too keen to offer much treatment. I digress).

    A little while later, when I was basically alright, I started smoking a bit again but it didn't really do me any favours - it would generally make me feel quite sketchy and withdrawn. I gradually realised that none of the positive effects particularly applied any more, so I'd just say no when passed a joint. A few years later, I do occasionally smoke a small amount when it's around... sometimes vaguely enjoying it and sometimes just feeling a little bit socially impaired, if I'm honest. Nothing dramatic to fill the tabloids (although I can only imagine what the Mail would make of pot-smoking beatniks on the NHS). Occasionally something like a bit of music or a joke will remind of why being stoned can be nice - I take some reminding, my main perception of weed is now one of boredom and anxiety. I generally enjoy feeling much brighter and healthier as a result of not smoking; I can also remember when I was a stoner occasionally having a week or two off and brightening up as a result.

    To be honest, I think it's a bit of a shame that so much of the stuff on the market these days is stronger skunk... it would be nice if dealers and users would adopt less of the typical druggy 'stronger is better' attitude.

    While I'm aware of some of the harm they can cause, I don't really believe criminalising drugs is particularly productive. I think it would be better if society were able to be more mature and responsible in addressing the risks and not force those who do indulge into stigmatisation and criminality. Cannabis seems to be relatively harmless, but not completely. Lots of people lead pretty dull lives on it, which is a real waste. I personally do believe that cannabis can be responsible for some more major problems - even, perhaps the dreaded 'cannabis psychosis' which I haven't really mentioned here (actually have a thing or two to say, but I've gone on long enough). Many people feel seem to feel compelled to be unduly defensive of it - this article being an example of that. Many people use it quite sensibly, and for many others it becomes a stupidly central part of their lives...

    <peace>

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real reason cannabis is illegal

    From what I hear the real reason cannabis is illegal has noting to do with public health and everything to do with a company called dupont and their wonder fibre called nylon!!!

    google for 'cannabis dupont' and you will come across a lot of rather interesting documents.

    Gotta love the yanks and their payola democracy ;)

  81. Ben Smith
    Thumb Up

    I've been reading the Reg for some years now

    and I love it because it has articles like this one.

    At the end of the day, all human tribes (bar the Inuit) experiment with drugs. Fact.

    Cannabis is the least harmful drug. Fact.

    The war on drugs cannot ever be won. Fact.

    Legalise, tax, regulate. It's the only sensible option.

    it's my mind and I'll do with it what I want to, thanks very much.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Good article, great responses...

    ... and my 2p worth.

    In over 25 years of indulgence I have come to the conclusion that it isn't smoking cannabis that makes one paranoid, it's having a little lump in your back pocket when the rossers are about.

    Fek, is that another blue light behind me?

    ... and my 3p tip is... when cannabis was deliberately added to the US list of illegal drugs (shortly after a certain war resulted in an influx of heroin addled servicemen) and then blindly adopted here in Blighty, the prohibitionists of the time completely overlooked the fact that it's a herb, not a drug. But, as we all know, prohibition is really effective at stopping the general population from doing bad things mMMMKay?

  83. fins gd
    Pirate

    Grenada

    I'd like to add the anecdote of a study that took place in Grenada, W.I. regarding the link between cannabis and schizophrenia. There was a strong correlation found, however there was one major factor overlooked. A lot of weed out of St. Vincent is "preserved" by dipping it in formaldehyde. I'm no brain scientist , but to me smoking formaldhyde == bad == shizophrenia! If any proportion of the marijuana consumed in the sample countries travels a long distance, I'm sure there is a chance it has been "preserved" in a simmilar manner, so this could skew the statistics. Jut sayin...

    Fins

  84. Kanhef

    More harmful than cigarettes

    There's no filtering, and marijuana smoke tends to be inhaled deeper and held longer than tobacco smoke, leading to significantly more lung damage.

    As long as you don't affect other people, I don't really give a damn. But when you get emphysema and cancer, don't complain that the government should have restricted it to protect your health.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unemotional view

    There's a lot of statistics being used in both the comments and the report, lots of probabilities.

    Those of you quoting the tabbacco/alcohol death rates, what pecentage of those were cannabis users?

    What is the likelihood of those that died weren't going to die at some stage anyway.?

    How can you prove that cannabis ISN'T a cause of health issues as well as trying to prove that it IS.

    Has anyone yet tried a full control with people with issues/without issues/with/without cannabis?And the results?

    I've yet to meet a double centurian who smoked pot, as like I've never met a double centurian full stop.

    I'm not advocating in either direction, I'm aware that figures are massaged to the popularistic view, as some have mentioned bias, yes, it depends on your bias.

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I wouldn't like Cannabis to be legal to be honest.

    FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL:

    It would [probably] lead to drug testing in jobs.

    Now, I don't take any drugs so this isn't a problem personally, but I feel it's invasive and just ... I don't like the idea. I think people in favor of taking drugs seemed to have missed this big fact.

    If they like taking cocaine or ecstasy occasionally they will be up s*** creek if they get their beloved cannabis (which they can obtain easily anyway) legalized.

    At least with alcohol people don't generally go around drunk all day and there is a stigma about drinking in the morning or afternoon.. I could not stand putting up with thousands of stoned people all day long.

    Cannabis is clearly mind-altering, and there is no REAL way to tell whether someone is under the influence unless you test them. People would be turning up at work stoned. They already do. This country's citizens are not responsible enough to have it legalized. I read earlier today that the UK has the highest amount of cocaine users in Europe. For the 5th year in a row. The huge difference between cannabis and alcohol is that a person cannot generally drink all day every day. It becomes pretty obvious and they are clearly impaired. People using cannabis can be impaired mentally but have no outward signs such as staggering about. That's why it is dangerous and will lead to testing in the workplace.

    Studies can be tweaked to say anything. I don't believe it. It's a well-known fact, admitted by users themselves, that cannabis makes you paranoid. I am not convinced that it doesn't lead to mental illness, although you are right about one thing; that it overlaps. It makes sense for troubled people to have taken drugs or abused alcohol.

    -Posting anonymously is no different than having a full name up, since there's no way to tell if the name is real or fake-

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @N1AK and anonymity

    "Why is it people defending the goverments position have to post as AC"

    Probably to avoid abuse from people like you.

    Of course, calling yourself N1AK tells everybody who you are, doesn't it? Oh, wait...

    I rue the day that The Register bought into the perjorative and slashdot-inspired "anonymous coward" bollocks. It doesn't do them any credit whatsoever.

  88. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Happy

    The weed effect...

    Sure, I could get up at the crack of dawn and go do a job in a office that inspires me neither creatively or intellectually.

    Or... I could get up at noon, and learn to play the sitar.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only four side effects.

    1: Short term memory loss.

    2. Mild paranoia

    3.....err.....Oh yeah! - Short term memory loss.

    Anybody got anything sweet to eat? - Choccie bar maybe?

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Just throat cancer to worry about then...

    Whilst it is good to hear that this particular question mark has been put to bed, I still see no reason why cannabis should be legalised or even treated less harshly as it has been in the last couple of years.

    There are still other medical issues, not least cancer of the throat which is about five times more common in cannabis smokers than tobacco smokers. If cannabis is legalised it will be used more widely and add to the burdon of the UK healthcare system. Yes, I know, there is already a burden but that will grow.

    In addition I don't think this country can cope with many more people who

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    hmmmm

    @ "Any drugs including alcohol and smoke actually destroy cells brain neurons and alter the correct flowing and use of chemical elements in the brain and whole body. What people think is pleasure it's actually the body in pain and requesting you to stop it, failing to do so it's what causes your mind to get confused because not just the brain but the whole body keeps sending out of order signals of pain an warnings for what you are doing to yourself and the living tissues that let you be alive."

    erm... no.. thats complete bollocks mate? where did you make that up? alcohol is poisoning youself and getting high off the alergic reaction. we know this. in fact if alcohol was invented now it would instantly be class a - this has been said before. smoking weed doesnt kill anything off - its not the same thinig at all... many drugs basically let your brain release certain chemicals that you already have (ecstacy releasing seratonin from your own system for example). please get your facts straight before we get another 'you can make heroin from cannabis LEAVES' lie. (the fact that cannabis LEAVES arent even any use makes it even more ridiculous)

    people also mention caffeine... in tests it has been proven that caffeine can have more affect on you than many illegal drugs.

    @"It claimed that only through a regulated market could young people be protected from the increasingly potent forms of cannabis, such as skunk. It is intended that the report will form a blueprint for nations seeking to develop a "more rational and effective approach to the control of cannabis" - complete toss... they dont even KNOW what skunk is. for the uninformed skunk is 1 strain of THOUSANDS available. often used to mean weed (as opposed to resin/hashish) - since the shitty old blockweed hasnt been seen for about 10 years now. skunk isnt even one of the stronger strains - its towards the top but there are many stronger ones available.

    i grow my own... just for me and the mrs - 2 plants keeps us ticking over and we can control which strains we grow... some lovely thai variant going at the moment that is only 8%THC - as opposed to the northern lights and white widow i have which are in the mid 20%s. (must post as AC now lol)

    i would still love to develop a strain with a low thc of about 3% that i can then use to totally replace tobacco in my life. i tried this a few years ago but with some v strong weed and was just too hammered

    as someone else said... pananoia comes from people you dont want to know you smoke finding out (parent etc) or general police nonsense. if legalised - or at least decriminalised - paranoia would be eliminated!

    @ @abigsmurf 'You cannot expect someone to maintain a hightened amount of concentration for long periods' Too right - lets ban people from driving for more than 1hr after an 8 hour day. You ever had to drive with those work crazed nutters on the M3 of an evening? - well said ;) i manage to play brilliantly on my ps3 no matter how hammered i am. i do not smoke and drive but the odd occasion i have driven much slower and been more careful.

  92. JohnG
    Thumb Down

    WHO

    The WHO doesn't have many good things to say about cannabis:

    http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/cannabis/en/index.html

    It probably isn't a good idea for people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia to use drugs such as cannabis or alcohol - especially if they are taking other drugs as part of their treatment.

    Claiming that cannabis should be legalised because smoking and alcohol are worse is a bit daft. If either tobacco or alcohol were introduced as new products today, neither would be allowed.

  93. storng.bare.durid
    Flame

    Preliminary scan of story

    Bullshit flag set.

    Relevance flag cleared.

    .

    curiosity flag...set

    damn... This means i probably will get drawn into reading it. You see. the OP either got it wright (but my BS flag set immediately, reading him talking thu' his method of interpretation). The paper may welll be dodgy, but so may be the reporting of saidpaper.

    Till I get that paper and criticlly analyse,

    I offer you a thought experiment.I would suggest that mind altering sutbstaces are literrally what they are. They get neurons going in one particular way. This just a hypothesis - the more your brain likes going a certain way, its' morel likely to want to reinforce this.

    What I believe is these devices bet it THC or even trance music , heavy metal etc.. tehy do change your brains subtly. I have a belief exposure to excess may make such changes more lasting.

    In other words becareful what you bomb your brain with as you do this consciously or unconciously (TV adds etc)

  94. dervheid

    Woo Hoo!

    I knew it didn't!

    <no you didn't>

    <yes he did, shut up you>

    <jeez, will you two chill out>

    <no> <fuck off hippy>

    <FFS, you three, keep the noise down, he'll HEAR us>

    <sorry> <shhh> <bummer>

    Did someone say something? I thought I heard voices a moment ago. Must be my imagination. Need to relax....

  95. James Pickett

    Bong!

    "smoking pot doesn't really make you any more free"

    But removing the ban does.

    Good article , TW. As for "cannabis induced schizophrenia", what about politics induced schizophrenia? Much more dangerous, IMHO.

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I'm...........

    Still in two minds over this one (wa wa wahhhhhhhh)

  97. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Doh

    There's enough health problems with drink and smoking, not to mention all the other drugs. So why on earth would anyone want to add to the problem by legalising yet another narcotic?

    If you smoke resin then there's more tar in it than in the worst cigarette.

    With people being denied treatment on the NHS due to the cost of drugs, how is legalising cannabis going to help matters?

    This is what is wrong with this country, people abusing their bodies to extremes and then expecting the NHS to fix all the damage.

    If you want to feel good, get some fresh air and exercise, become fit and you feel good all the time and don't need a little pill or a line to lift your spirits.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of interesting comments.

    Most of which are obviously pro-legalisation. I just wanted to offer a slightly different viewpoint. I.e. one from the viewpoint of someone has suffered a cannabis induced psychosis.

    The sole reason I ever took any drugs was because they were fun (which coincidentally led me to avoid the really nasty shit fortunately) and weed was a good part of that. However, a few years ago, after I'd been toking for about 15 years, I began to notice that every time I partook of the herbal I'd get what I called 'the fear'. This eventually escalated to the point where I only needed to have a couple of puffs and I'd be enjoying an experience such as this: I'd be sat in a room (with my cousin and my best friend on this, last, occasion) and was convinced that they were plotting to kill me and discussing it in front of me using euphemisms and metaphors to disguise the fact.

    Needless to say I did not class this as 'fun'. I quit smoking weed that day and have never had a repeat of the experience or even anything remotely resembling it.

    Please note that this is not an argument for continued criminalisation or otherwise, it is simply a salutory reminder to all that weed isn't always something that will make you warm and fluffy. Yes alcohol can be worse and on a much larger scale, you only have to be in town on an evening to see that but don't be fooled into thinking that weed is completely harmless.

    Mine's not the one with the arms that tie at the back.

  99. Marc Savage
    Flame

    What a suprise....

    My comment never made it past the censorship.

    Almost ever post above is pro weed. You lot make me sick. When somebody brings up the facts about the damage teh stuff does, you fall back on the old "cigs and booze" blah blah blah, worse than weed, blah blah blah.

    Of interest should be teh fact that there are far higher numbers of people who consume booze and fags than weed. Thus you will get larger numbers of negative incidents.

    Bet this post never makes it to the thread either.

  100. Adrian Jooste
    Black Helicopters

    I have a dream

    Legalise it, Cypress Hill will advertise it.

    The problem is, it will never be legalised. How will the "man" keep control over a crop that can grow just about anywhere? Nicotine and Alcohol require a lot of time and effort to produce and so are a lot easier to keep an eye on but how will the tax man collect on Joe Schmoe with a plant or two in his backyard?

    As usual, it's about money and greed.

  101. Paul Buxton

    @Boris the Cockroach

    Your point is what? That kids shouldn't do drugs? Well Duh!

    Children (and for the sake of argument, let's put the cap at 18) will cause themselves harm if they smoke cannabis because they are still developing physically and mentally. Similarly, children should not drink alcohol or operate heavy machinery or prostite themselves because it does them harm.

    Has anybody, either the author or any respondent, stated that children should be allowed to smoke cannabis?

    So again, was there a point to your post that wasn't blindingly obvious to everybody already? We already agree kids shouldn't smoke cannabis but we're not talking about kids are we? I'm surprised you didn't just write "won't somebody think of the children" and have done with it.

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Too many self-interested people

    Perhaps I expressed myself too personally for those disinterested souls who repsonded so intemperately. True, I quoted personal knowledge and true , as a scientist (biology and stats), I pointed out that scientific papers (this one sounds more like a survey of other results and figures rather than original research) are written and interpreted according to standpoint. At one time, tobacco was promoted as a scientifically proved aid to health and I believe there are still some people disputing its effects.

    Numbers game: why is death the main consideration? Even for tobacco, the really bad effects occur more widely and long before death. And just what counts as a death caused by a substance? Only direct, poisoning effect? Consequential effects such as killing yourself or someone else while driving under the influence? Dying years later of some illness promoted by a behaviour?

    I am AC as my daughter does not need the publicity.

    Freedom does include the abiltiy to smell flowers, fresh air, even unpleasant things, without the smell of someone's smoke covering everything, possible rather more than your freedom to spend money on drugs and expect the rest of us to put up with the results of which you are unaware. I can take you, today, to a couple of places near where I live and show you the happy consumers whose existence you deny. I should point out that, in another career, I had all too intimate a contact with all kinds of addicts to all kinds of substance, on the streets of two countries. I know a several people (mainly younger, older ones were brought up to accept other people smoking) who actively avoid smoky pubs, restaurants etc. (I live in a country where smoking is still allowed everywhere).

    It is clear from the comments that some of these people do not get out much, probably stuck in their bedsits and semis in Tunbridge Wells, smoking to overcome the boredom.

    Why do people who use drugs get so "uptight" about it? Must be all that pleasure and relaxation. You sound so middle-aged, you old hippy.

    Seriously, if you are healthy, you do not need the crutch. If you need some component to manage some pain or disease and cannabis is so good, ask yourself why the Pharmaceutical companies are not making millions from it, or do you go and chew a willow twig for your headache? Grow your own foxgloves to get digitalis fro your heart?

    Actually, I suspect that the whole legalisation lobby is much favoured by such as the tobacco companies just aching to find a lucrative, psychologically addictive agent to exploit.

    Do tell us what the safe alternative for the under-aged (whatever age you thing that is) is. I suppose it could be art, education, friends, exercise, getting out a bit. Oh, those do not make much money for a dealer or factory. They even require some effort and social skills. Forget it.

  103. steogede

    re: Operation Shock and Draw

    >> However, smoking pot doesn't really make you any more free, and such wild hyperbole just

    >> makes you look a bit of a moron.

    I don't think he ever argued that, he argued that being given the freedom to grow/buy/sell/use cannabis (without breaking the law and all the unpleasant results) makes you more free.

  104. Paul Buxton

    @Too many self-interested people

    "Freedom does include the abiltiy to smell flowers, fresh air, even unpleasant things, without the smell of someone's smoke covering everything, possible rather more than your freedom to spend money on drugs and expect the rest of us to put up with the results of which you are unaware."

    Freedom also includes the ability to cover everything with the smell of smoke. The oil companies have been profiting from this for years. And exactly what hardships are you having to put up with that are caused by me? I am unaware of them because there aren't any. What you advocate is freedom for you to do what you want but fuck anybody else that tries.

    About smoking. I was in a pub smoking lounge a few years ago (when it was still allowed) and some arrogant bastard (was it you) started complaining noisily to her husband about the smoke. I pointed her to the no smoking bar which was just a few feet away and in a separate room but no, this wasn't good enough for her - "why should I be forced to move" she exclaimed and I replied that nobody was forcing her to do anything. I then proceeded to blow my smoke directly at her until her husband threatened me with violence at which stage the landlord ejected them both.

    The same pub is now out of business since the smoking ban was brought in. See how these policies affect real people? And you're worried about your clothes smelling a bit, well fuck me, that's obviously more important than a family forced to move and endure financial hardship and a village left without a central cultural hub that was the pub.

    Freedom has many guises but must always be tempered with tolerance. I've tolerated you bunch of puritanical bastards all of my life but I don't often see it reciprocated and the smoking issue is where it's most apparent. Is it because we've stripped your "right" to be discriminatory on racial, sexual, religious lines that you now feel the need to pick on somebody else, someone who you're "allowed" to discriminate against? Why do you feel the need to tell other people what they should and shouldn't do? That's the real issue here. I'm not telling you how to live your life so why do you feel that you have the right to tell me how to live mine?

    Isn't it easier for everybody concerned if you just go and sit in the other bar? Or isn't that good enough for you? Do you really want it all your own way? That's not freedom, that's dictatorial.

    Learn some tolerance and you will immediately become happier.

  105. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everything in moderation

    Ok, we know that alcohol and drugs are more harmful - I have consumed a wide range of different substances and alcohol would by far and away have resulted in the worst outcomes.

    Cannabis does not suit everyone, just like some people shouldn't drink, some people shouldn't eat KFC and some people shouldn't eat nuts, some people should not indulge in pot. Equally, there are also thousands of people who enjoy it on a regular, or infrequent basis who suffer no harm and who cause no harm.

    The criminalisation of pot is not a deterrant - if it was, nobody would be smoking today.

    The ciminalisation of people who have a predisposition to psychosis for smoking pot does not help their mental state.

    The criminalisation of people who suffer no ill effects from smoking pot, or who cause no harm to others does not help them, nor does it protect society.

    So does this mean that it should be completely legal - of course not.

    Cannabis should not be smoked by people under 18 as their brains are still developing and (I believe) there is some research that supports the fact that cannabis can negatively impact brain development

    People should not drive under the influence of pot (being a bit of a hypocrite here, but speaking from experience, your natural desire to drive at a 'safer' speed of about 2km/h is massively outweighed by your inability to concentrate on your speed, mirrors, other traffic, pedestrians and eating a snickers bar)

    What is needed is a considered, sensible, RHETORIC FREE approach to drugs policy.

    The biggest problem caused by making cannibis illegal is that it forces the drugs trade in to the hands of genuine criminals. People who are prepared to protect their money making operations through violence and who also have a vested interest in up-selling their customer base to costlier, more addictive substances.

    A regulated environment which:

    * takes criminals out of the supply chain, allows people to make informed choices

    * provides support for people with metal and addiction problems

    * has very strong penalties for those who supply drugs to minors

    * has very strong penalties for those who drive under the influence

    would be far more effective than stigmatising and criminalising everyone, which achieves nothing. Our current drugs policy is simply not working. Continuing to do the same thing and expecting the situation to change is, by definition, insanity.

    A few other notes:

    I'm really amused by the rantings of those who quite obviously know nothing about drugs. I feel sorry for you when your children grow up - at least I will be able to spot the signs from my own experience and have a reasoned discussion with my kids - you will be none the wiser if/when they decide to experiment.

    Yes, smoking canabis can damage the lungs, that's why they invented space cake

    Joerg - wtf, you're talking through your arse - go back to church and stop annoying the rest of us who are trying to have a reasoned debate

  106. Zmodem

    @An abomination

    weed is gurlie. theres not enough of whatever to actually make you trip like some real acid on paper. and if your going to go on harder drugs then you will anyway. alcoholics dont usually move from stella to whiskey. they just drink more stella

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC : Freedom

    >Freedom does include the abiltiy to smell flowers, fresh air, even unpleasant things, without

    >the smell of someone's smoke covering everything

    Smoking is already banned in public in the UK and most of Europe.

    >possible rather more than your freedom to spend money on drugs and expect the rest of

    >us to put up with the results of which you are unaware.

    If the weed was legalised and sold through chemists, then accurate information and access to specialist help for those with problems could be more readily accessible - a dealer isn't going to point out the cancer risks. Finally taxation and reduced expenditure on enforcement would leave more money available for the health care issues.

    >I can take you, today, to a couple of places near where I live and show you the

    >happy consumers whose existence you deny.

    When people are free they don't always make the choices you think they should.

    I can show you people who have been permanently injured playing rugby or skiing (even jogging in one instance).

    >I know a several people who actively avoid smoky pubs, restaurants etc.

    I know several people who actively avoid pubs completely. I actively avoid churches.

    Some people avoid Indian restaurants because they don't like spicy food, is that a reason to ban their existence?

    >I live in a country where smoking is still allowed everywhere.

    That's actually the core of your argument isn't it?

    What if cannabis weren't smoked but made into a pill or drink?

    BTW I don't do weed, it has too strong an effect on me and makes me throw up and pass

    out, this doesn't mean that I'm want to run around stopping other people doing it.

    >It is clear from the comments that some of these people do not get out much, probably

    >stuck in their bedsits and semis in Tunbridge Wells, smoking to overcome the boredom.

    You obviously don't understand the Tunbridge Wells thing, it's a cliché in the UK for reactionary right wing views in newspaper letters sections to end "disgusted Tunbridge Wells".

    Such people would normally be expressing your viewpoint.

    It's obvious that you'd ban pretty much everything that's both fun and dangerous from alcohol to bungee jumping, as such your position is clearly bonkers.

  108. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: @Too many self-interested people

    >I then proceeded to blow my smoke directly at her until her husband threatened me with violence at which stage the landlord ejected them both.

    You must be so proud. What a spirited stand for your rights. I applaud you, sir. No, I do. I do.

    I nearly nixed that comment by the way because I know it'll bring a world of shit into this thread, but I thought I'd rather deal with that than any pious whinings about 'censorship'.

    I am genuinely sorry for the people who've suffered from the smoking ban - I mean actually suffered, not just been slightly inconvenienced like smokers themselves - but progress always has casualties. And it's the gov's fault more hasn't been done to offset the damage, not the fault of non-smokers.

    Gawd. Why I do this to myself, I don't know.

  109. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve

    Yeah, I know there's lots of ACs here. Sorry you can't be sure that I'm the one who posted the original comment but there's a very good reason why I can't leave my name here (or maybe it's just paranoia... :-) )

    "Maybe you should get yourself "informed" about the difference between correlation and causation."

    OK, how's this? I used to smoke the stuff too, mainly as a student. I developed depression (not schizophrenia - it doesn't just have to be about that). Years later I stopped. Only then did I get better. Now, if I smoke during more than two consecutive days I get pretty moody for another couple of days. Otherwise I never regress. So I'm pretty informed about the effects, at least on me. Definitive “causation”.

    Of course, it doesn't affect everyone the same. But of all the people I know, I reckon there's only one whom it hasn't adversely affected to a variable and *imprecise* extent. I accept that that's not fact; that's opinion. However, my ex-girlfriend's brother topped himself after developing severe depression which (I doubt co-incidentally) worsened as his smoking increased. You might argue "correlation" but not even his weed-smoking friends believe that (they just know it hasn't affected them AS MUCH). Doubtless, part of his pleasure in smoking was to relieve the symptoms of depression, but that's like drinking to cure a hangover. It works, but...

    The effect of it on me, though? That's fact. That's direct causation. The stuff is evil, and part of the danger is that the harm it MAY (but not always) cause is usually gradual - leading to the belief that just because your life hasn't suddenly turned into a scene from 'Transpotting' then everything is just peachy.

    So I’m happy that it’s illegal, right? Yes and no. I wholeheartedly believe it’s an unpredictable and potentially dangerous drug. I also believe that, due to the nature of the subject, SOME people simply are not capable of making a rational decision about their involvement with it (I know I wasn’t) and the argument that they are informed adults doesn’t wash. However, I’m deeply uncomfortable with the notion that the ill effects for a small percentage of the population should necessarily direct the path for the rest, especially when it’s driven by the UK’s current meddling government. That’s the situation with this upcoming “dangerous porn” law, and it’s a fundamentally flawed philosophy to take.

  110. Richard
    Flame

    Worse than Canabis...

    There's a worse drug than canabis out there. This worse drug:

    1) Is used by millions across the country, and more worldwide.

    2) Is easily available

    3) Is known to cause addiction in many people very easily.

    4) Is known to cause violent episodes and other regrettable actions

    5) Is sold over the counter in establishments that specialise in it

    6) Is completely legal

    I am of course referring to alcohol. Compare with that NASTY EVIL SUBSTANCE (</sarcasm>) Canabis:

    1) You can not become psychotropically addicted to canabis (oo thats a big word isnt it? It means you can not become addicted in such a way as to have a dependency - you might become addicted because you really enjoy it, like a chocoholic, but not because you need it, like an alcoholic).

    2) Does not cause violent episodes. Quite the opposite. Its calmly and relaxing effects are legendary. While I wouldn't suggest driving afterwards, you're not going to out and smash someones face in while stoned (well actually you might, but thats because you're a fucked up bastard with no respect for life, not because you've been toking).

    3) Is illegal. Why. Remind me again?

    Oh yeh. The risks. Let me tell you something about canabis. Very often its sold in a form coloquially known as "dirt bar", because its cheaper. Dirt bar is basically what you get when you scoop up all the bits of canabis that have fallen on the floor/desk/whatever, and heat it a little to make it gel into a bar. Its got floor polish, bits of wood, cleaning agents, you name it in there. Are you surprised this shit causes problems?

    Now compare with canabis "proper" - coloquially known as "green" or "bud". This is the raw plant and is far far far far far safer, because it hasn't been scraped off a french dresser. Its the proper stuff and is unlikely to cause any unpleasant side effects.

    Oh.. If you're a politician, you've already ignored all of this BECAUSE CANABIS IS A NASTY EVIL DRUG THAT WILL KILL YOU AND MURDER YOUR PARENTS AND NASTY STUFF AND YOU MUST BE PROTECTED FROM THE EVIL THING .. etc. etc. etc.

    -- Richard

  111. Paul Buxton

    @Sarah Bee

    "You must be so proud. What a spirited stand for your rights. I applaud you, sir. No, I do. I do."

    Not really Sarah, but when pushed I generally push back - it's just my nature. And yes, it was inflammatory and I expect to be firefighting all afternoon but what else was I to do?

  112. Ash
    Alien

    Legalise and Tax it

    It's obvious to me, economically and socially that having three million people smoke weed, and it being illegal and untaxed, is a batshit insane situation. The criminalisation of these people, who morally have done nothing wrong, is in IMO a disgusting insult, and greatly undermines respect in the rule of law and the decency of government.

    Legalise and tax it, smoke a spliff, put on some good music and enjoy yourselves.

  113. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: @Sarah Bee

    Well, now I do applaud you. Although I still think you should probably have been thrown out too. I would have given you a good clump if you'd blown smoke in my face.

    I'm having flashbacks now to the restaurant scene in In Bruges.

  114. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BUT it does cause irritable bowel syndrome

    According to a study done that my wife saw (as a nurse). It wasn't publicised because this was the time that the government was downbgrading it and that would be bad vibes. Besides I thought (as a non-smoker) that weed is mixed with tobacco to smoke it. So the death by cancer would be caused by tobacco. Hmm.

  115. SPiT
    Unhappy

    Canabis use is a major issue

    Strange but it doesn't seem to have been mentioned that canabis use does lead to major problems in our society. These seem to be a result of a wide range of issues all linked to the fact that the product is unregulated and illegal. This is the big issue, bad things happen in our society because of it and no doubt the anti crowd will blame the pot smokers but the pro argument is rather stronger. You could eliminate all the problems by everybody stopping smoking pot OR you can eliminate the problems by making it legal. Both ways wouyld work but I get the feeling that only the second one is practical. Unortunately making it legal is affected by international treaty and so on but the problems are the same world wide. Why can't the human race do something sensible just for once. Are we truly so lacking in common sense.

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Re: Re: @ Sarah Bee

    I blame the Vietnamese

    Mine's the scool uniform

  117. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    re @Too many self-interested people

    To the arrogant smoker: so your freedom is to disturb everyone else and threaten, physically, those with whom you disagree. Wonderful. Your tolerance is expressed in swearing at those with whom you disagree. Hope (IT angle) you are nowhere near software design and implementation. Dread to imagine your user interfaces. Perhaps you need ot get off those drugs, eat healthily and get some exercise for a while.

    By the way, I am well aware of UK geography and customs. They used to include discussion without abuse. Still things change, especially under various influences.

    Tell you what: you can do what you like, in a separate area from the rest of us, while paying the higher health costs that you will almost certainly cause. i've got insurance to get me off a mountain if I break a leg or something. Have you covered yourself?

    No, I am not a puritan: as I am not occupied with drugs, I actually do get out and probably have a more open life in more countries than the average drug taker knows of. Sadly, some of my local friends take the stuff, though being marginally health conscious, they prefer "cookies" that, judging by the visible effects at the time and later, are on the strong side. I am, as you may have guessed, old enough to have experienced the early 1970s, including the student scene in London. So please do n't prattle on to me about puritanism etc..

    The point is, getting away from the apparent prejudice and abuse by those who believe in the joys of cannabis, that a mature society protects its members to a reasonable degree. At the most elementary level, our freedom is compromised by sanctions against theft, murder, rape etc.; it then tends to act against selling, say, weapons or bad food, or driving while drunk or drugged. The trade-off is that everyone can live in relative safety and freedom from fear and idiocy without doing so at the unreasonable expense of others. This balances individual freedom of a few against the broad freedom of the many. One may feel that, in one's own case, a restriction is unfounded or unfair; but we have to accept that compromises are unavodable and one can be wrong (yes, me too). if society as a whole judges that drug use has too high a cost to bear, then hard luck; Consider moving to somewhere that has a different view, Columbia or somewhere.

    Cannabis and such things are awkward because, by their very nature, the consumers tend to be unaware of or ignore the risks to and effects on themselves and others. Comparing the dangers of mountain climbing or skiing or jogging or even dancing vigorously (all of which I do) shows the sheer unawareness of the proponents and the insularity and desparation of their thinking and experience.

    It is no good saying that these substances have no effect while, at the same time taking them for their effect. it's no argument to claim your right to absolute freedom in this anymore than your absolute right to produce and spread, e.g., whatever software you like or drive as fast as you like (because you know you are a wonderful driver in all circumstances), no matter what its effects. It is no argument to say that somebody else's experience or knowledge is anecdotal while yours is incontrovertible evidence.

    I find that those proposing absolute freedom to grow, buy, or sell drugs are extraordinarily puritan, intolerant and closed in these things, How about, in future, rather than seizing on one article about one set of work, one puts it in the context of other research coming to other conclusions and then discussing, in a reasoned way, the validity of these, of practical experience by those dealing with the results on real people (of all ages and backgrounds) and so on. Invective is no substitute.

  118. alex d
    Alien

    THIS MISSES THE POINT

    There were studies that said essentially the same thing going a while back, but let's be clear about what they're saying:

    Smoking weed won't induce schizophrenia in someone who isn't going to get it.

    BUT, smoking weed WILL induce a schizophrenia-prone person to develop symptoms at a younger age. That's not an argument against weed, but this point has to be repeated! For the sake of the small population who honestly does need to put down the fn bong.

    And as for weed in general, the argument is simple: The dose makes the poison! Nuff said.

  119. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC: re @Too many self-interested people

    >By the way, I am well aware of UK geography and customs.

    Surprised at that, you seem to think Tunbridge Wells is full of pot heads..

    >I am, as you may have guessed, old enough to have experienced the early 1970s, including

    >the student scene in London.

    Didn't seem to mess you up too much? Or were you protected by your puritanical streak?

    >At the most elementary level, our freedom is compromised by sanctions against theft, murder, rape etc

    No, no ,no those are all offensive against other people. Society doesn't protect me

    against robbing my self, I can throw money away freely.

    >If society as a whole judges that drug use has too high a cost to bear, then hard luck;

    Quite right, the law is the law and should be obeyed, we are still free to complain about it though.

    > Consider moving to somewhere that has a different view, Columbia or somewhere.

    Or Holland? It's really very nice there.

    >The consumers tend to be unaware of or ignore the risks to and effects on themselves and others

    This would be better corrected by suitable information at the point of purchase, something that won't happen with prohibition.

    >Comparing the dangers of mountain climbing or skiing or jogging or even dancing

    >vigorously (all of which I do) shows the sheer unawareness of the proponents and the

    > insularity and desparation of their thinking and experience.

    I must be very unaware of it, I know many people who partake a little and don't seem unaware or desperate, you yourself reckon you did in the '70s, I even know people who work in drug addict outreach programs who smoke a little. They seem very normal.

    The fact is that many more people are hurt in dangerous sports - with a similar participation level - than from cannabis smoking, that's with the questionable hygiene of the supply chain as well. The safety argument is weak.

    >(The strange "produce & spread" argument) e.g., whatever software you like or drive as fast

    >as you like (because you know you are a wonderful driver in all circumstances)

    Actually you can produce and spread any software you want provided it doesn't harm other people. Ditto driving as fast as you want on a race track is permitted.

    There's no argument that there's a time and place for these things.

    Have you considered the crime associated with the current supply chain?

    The costs, damage, pain and suffering associated with that?

    >It is no good saying that these substances have no effect

    No one is saying that. They're saying they don't make you mad.

    >I find that those proposing absolute freedom to grow, buy, or sell drugs are extraordinarily

    >puritan, intolerant and closed in these things

    Really?

    What purity do they seek?

    What is it they don't tolerate?

    What argument will they not listen to? (Apart from that weirdo who winds people up in pubs)

    The drugs are bad m'kay.. approach is only going to push people to cross a criminal boundary will create further problems eroding respect for the law.

  120. Zmodem

    wait until your all un-employed

    and having nothing to do. all running around window shopping and living on chicken and noodle soup. you`ll soon develope psychosis and start chatting to some random god. if you weak you`ll then become a skitzaphrenic, weed is a brain enhancer. while alcohol is a depressor.

    and life is boring without being insane

  121. Brian

    @AC - re: too many self interested people

    I believe the 'selfish smoker' you choose to upbraid was in fact threatened with violence rather than himself doing any threatening.

    Your point about society needing to regulate freedoms is well made, but unfortunately keeping cannabis illegal is beyond the line that should be drawn - cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes, and if they are legal, cannabis should be too.

    If you want to keep cannabis illegal, you should be actively lobbying for the criminalisation of tobacco and alcohol - otherwise you are inconsistent in your attitudes.

    Personally, I enjoy a smoke of an evening, but I would never smoke when children are in the house, or if I have to drive, operate machinery or do mentally challenging work (though I did pass my 1st year maths exams at uni while stoned).

    I'm responsible for my actions, and resent some idiot politicians telling me what I can and cannot smoke.

    Yes, I'm self-interested, but I view the legalisation of cannabis as a true case of 'enlightened self-interest' in the sense that removing the prohibition would result in an increase in general happiness with very little social cost.

  122. brian murray
    Stop

    Unconvinced

    How many people read the article itself ? 'The consensus is pretty much you should not use cannabis if you want to avoid an increased risk of schizophrenia' - that is from the paper's author. Talking of 'one bad trip causing schizophrenia' makes me wonder if the Reg author understands this debate at all. The idea of using how many relatives with / without schizophrenia to 'prove' cannabis is harmless seems a bit disingenuous, after all, schizophrenia's hereditability is not well understood. I am always suspicious of research papers which use a roundabout way of proving a point when there are much easier ways to make the point, no? I.e follow up a cohort of cannabis smokers and see what happens. This has been done: a study of Scandinavian army conscripts found heavy use definitely predisposes towards schizophrenia. A meta- analysis (a summary of several best quality papers) in this month's British journal of psychiatry showed that, although the quality of the evidence is not as great as we previously thought, there is still a clear consensus that cannabis use increase paranoid symptoms generally, precipitates schizophrenia in those predisposed (not quite the same as simply bringing forward its onset) and creates schizophrenia in a small percentage who would not have got it otherwise. Funny how this research got missed in the Reg's reporting. In comparison to the numbers who use cannabis the percentage suffering may seem low, but it is not as if we are discussing the side effects of something that cures cancer or world poverty. I have seen people with schizophrenia and I do not see why people would risk that for the sake of a herb that makes you giggle. It just ain't worth it. No, I am not a govt agent and I do not care if your gran smoked it until she was 96 blah bah blah - If you think those arguments make sense then you've been at too much already.

  123. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @BUT it does cause irritable bowel syndrome

    Ummmm, cannabis is proven effective in the treatment of IBS. I could legally go to any state where medical marijuana is legal and get a perscription for it. The steroids I am perscribed for IBS (more specifically, Crohns disease) is expensive (about $400 per bottle, which lasts a month), has horrible side effects, causes my body to form a dependence to it (if i stop, i get sick and, without going into too much detail, i lose a lot of blood). My other option are 9 huge horse pills per day, with the fun side effects of turning my skin orange, giving me nausea, making my skin extremely sensitive to sunlight, and other fun things. Cannabis has proven to not only slow down the growth rate of the disease, but it has also shown to REVERSE it, something that no other drug can do at this point in time. I may smoke pot, but probably not enough to make a difference. It's also not targeted or 'optimized' for treatment. If it were legal, I could potentially be in a lot less pain than I am currently in. I'm only 22 but I already have been hospitalized twice over it (3 'routine' surgeries), have almost died because I was vomiting stomach acid and blood, have fainted due to loss of blood over this, and have lost a lot of sleep laying in my bed just hoping to fall asleep eventually so I could wake up and hopefully not be in as much pain. It sucks, and I'm not saying pot is the answer, but perhaps if further research could be done on how it's able to reverse the disease, that could help a lot of people.

    Now, on to the general topic... People seem to like to claim cannabis users are high all the time.. at work, when they drive. They're irritable, angry, they have mood swings, etc.. Yeah, so do drunks/alcoholics. The difference between the two is you're lumping potheads in with cannabis users. That'd be like saying anyone who drinks is a drunken alcoholic.

    Anything can be detrimental to your health. At the worst point in my life, I lost my job, lost my home, and lost my first love, in the span of a week, and all related to each other. My friends felt bad for me and were offering me free pot. I didn't accept it. Why not? Becuase once you use a vice to attempt to escape a problem, you create a new problem of depending on it to solve those problems, and RESPONSIBLE users are aware that this just doesn't work. Ironically, I became strongly addicted to another drug: WoW. I spent a total of two weeks doing nothing but jumping around Azeroth in an acid-trip like drug induced state. It was pitiful. In bad times, I do lean, and I lean hard. I also try to disassociate with friends and family, thus I lean on random things in times like that. I knew in advance I'd probably become addicted to WoW, but I also hated WoW and my only attachment to it was my ex.. I knew sadness would turn into anger eventually, so I relied on that to push me out once it was time. It worked. :)

    I still smoke pot, but I only smoke when I'm happy. I don't smoke to be happy. I smoke to alter my happiness into a different type of happiness. Whether with friends and playing guitar hero or at home alone with headphones on in my bed with a smile on my face, it's a good thing. No amount of pot can change your feelings or emotions, but it can be used to enhance or alter them. It won't take you from sad to happy (some people might claim it can, but thats an artificial feeling), but it will make your sadness or happiness different for the time being. I personally don't like to use pot when I'm sad. When I'm mad or happy, pot is good. When I'm sad, I tend to lean on other things until I find my bootstraps.

    Paris, because I laugh everytime I read the comments and someone picks her for an extremely random reason.

  124. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "causes psychotic symptoms"

    so we can all agree then that if you're predisposed cannabis "causes psychotic symptoms".

    and that's a good thing how? all those people tocking away better know they're gambling away their mental health...

  125. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    LOL@ "Too many self-interested people "

    Paul Buxton....

    People like you absolutely infuriate me. Freedom. SELF INTERESTED???

    Lets get something straight... You still have freedom. Smokers were not banned from pubs. Smoking was. You CAN STILL SMOKE.

    The government had to make a choice between certain 'freedoms'. Allow people the freedom to kill others and give them disease by polluting the air. Or the freedom for everyone to breathe clean air. Killing others is against the law, and since second hand smoke kills people, it is no surprise laws have been made.

    You cannot expect non-smokers to stay away from places which allow smoking, as this would be everywhere. And why should the person doing nothing wrong be negatively effected, inconvenienced and excluded? It makes sense for the smokers to have restrictions placed on them. Rather than having innocent people put in hazardous situations because a certain percentage of the population are selfish.

    Your arguments COULD NOT BE MORE FLAWED.

    Oil is necessary for many, many things. It could not possibly be banned. The fact that smokers bring up this argument is evidence of how many brain cells the habit destroys, and how it 'clouds' judgment. Without oil we could not survive. In case you didn't realise; smoking cigarettes is NOT necessary to live. It is not needed to transport food, to build houses, fly people across the world on holidays etc.

    Smoking cigarettes exists for one/two sole reason/s:

    personal enjoyment / indulging in addiction.

    Your personal enjoyment /addiction does not over-ride the right for everyone to have a smoke-free environment. No one is preventing you from smoking, they are just making you to do what you should have already done as a considerate human being - leave the god damn room for your fix before you blow it into everyone elses lungs.

    Pubs are out of business because of the ridiculous prices which have been steadily rising. I also don't know if you've noticed, but there's this little thing going on.. they're calling it "the credit crunch" hmm something about the economy not doing well? But I suppose this is just purely coincidence, and the real blame for pubs closing is the smoking ban. (Do you not realise the irony? That it's not the non-smokers faults for pubs closing, rather it is the smokers faults for ABANDONING their beloved pubs!!)

    Isn't it easier for everybody concerned if you just go outside and have your fag?

    Or isn't that good enough for you? Do you really want it all your own way? You want to smoke wherever you want and those who are not happy just need to find somwhere else? That's not freedom, that's dictatorial.

    "Why do you feel the need to tell other people what they should and shouldn't do? That's the real issue here. I'm not telling you how to live your life so why do you feel that you have the right to tell me how to live mine?"

    Yes you are. You're doing exactly that. Telling non-smokers that they should either put up with the smoke and risk their health, or be excluded. I would say that's a pretty extreme, selfish view, when there's a simple solution such as smokers nipping outside. You are just angry, stomping your feet, because you're still in the mindset that you were in when you began smoking at 14, and that is that you think smoking makes you rebellious and cool.

    Give up the fags and the constant nicotine cravings and you will immediately become happier.

  126. John

    none

    " I believe the 'selfish smoker' you choose to upbraid was in fact threatened with violence rather than himself doing any threatening. "

    Because they directly provoked someone by blowing smoke in their face, something that was already irritating the person who supposedly threatened the smoker. (Handy for the smoker's argument, to have a story of being threatened over it. Although if I was them I would have left out the disgusting, smug, clearly provocative, childish, cowardly, smoke blowing part)

    Blowing smoke in someones face (on purpose) is agressive. It is akin to spitting in someone's face. If you do that to someone, anyone.. there's going to be trouble.

  127. Euan Ferguson

    The real reason ?

    Blackmarketeering in prohibited substances has made some people seriously rich. Rich people have political influence.

    The pharmaceutical industry sees drugs like cannabis and ecstasy, both easy and cheap to produce and not subject to patent protection, as a threat to profitable lines in proprietary medicines. These companies have political influence.

    The drinks industry sees prohibited recreational drugs as a threat to its huge captive market. Whenever you see an anti-cannabis or or anti-ecstasy hatchet piece, see the drinks industry and its PR minions behind it. The drinks industry has political influence.

    The USA hypnotised itself into a puritanical approach to many pleasures. The USA has political influence.

    These players have used the mass media to convince a large proportion of people in the west of falsehoods about recreational drugs. These large numbers of people have political influence.

    Alcohol abuse and schizophrenia have a higher correlation than cannabis does with schizophrenia - it doesn't take much googling to find that research (sorry, I didn't keep a link). Schizophrenia rates have fallen whilst cannabis use increased.

    Heroin doesn't screw you up. It might give you mild constipation http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/jun/14/drugsandalcohol.socialsciences

    etc.

  128. jack horner
    Flame

    @Joerg

    I'm like totally with you dude! I heard it really fucks up your precious bodily fluids too!

  129. Euan Ferguson

    This comment really needs a title

    Just you stick to your curds & whey

  130. Euan Ferguson

    On the other hand

    @jack horner: you were talking to joerg. You're quite right. Purity of essence, baby.

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