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Make cannabis a controlled drug – legalise and regulate it

Comment 1st July 2010

Cannabis is not a controlled drug, despite what politicians and police may tell you. A substance cannot be said to be "controlled" unless the trade in that substance is controlled.

Prohibition – the policy applied to cannabis – makes any control of the trade impossible because:

1: We have no idea who sells cannabis
2: We have no idea where cannabis is sold from
3: We have no way to control what is sold in terms of strength, purity or – and this is perhaps the most important aspect – type; different types or strains of cannabis contain different ratios of THC and CBD which may be very important if the claims of a link to mental ill-health are true.
4: There can be no restriction on the trade such as age limits
5: Dealers often don’t know what they’re selling – the only qualification needed to be a dealer is unaccountability.

In addition we can't even study the user group. Because the use of cannabis is illegal there is no way to take valid statistical measurements of the consumers or of what they are buying. This is why the move from imported hash to so-called "skunk" went unnoticed for 10 years by the authorities who claim to be in control.

Why does this matter?

Nothing on earth is safe, but we can reduce the potential for harm with sensible laws or we can make them worse with stupid laws; prohibition is a stupid law.

Prohibition prevents any form of control of the trade or the product it provides being taken, it actually sets out to increase the potential for harm. High levels of contamination and erratic supplies are used as indication of "success” for the prohibition policy, it’s pure harm maximisation. The government believes contamination and uncertain doses will deter people from using with no real evidence to support that belief and much to show it’s not true. This is totally mad, no other public health policy deliberately sets out to increase harm in the way prohibition does.

Many of these arguments apply to all drugs, but cannabis is different in a couple of important ways. Firstly it is massively popular, literally millions of UK people choose to use it – far more than any other prohibited drug. Secondly it's not new, cannabis has been around and used for thousands of years so it's use is firmly established and yes, it is a natural product; cannabis is a plant and is thus a part of the natural world, outlawing plants is as daft as trying to outlaw fire.

The cannabis laws have failed, in failing are hurting a lot of people and in doing this they gift eye watering profits to organised crime and terrorists. Please have the strength to ignore the Daily Mail and stop this prohibition madness now: Make cannabis a controlled drug – legalise it.

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