The issue of cannabis legislation is a tricky one. I believe cannabis should be decriminalised and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.
Given the global shift in attitudes towards cannabis – How does Britain respond?
If we look at current international attiudes with fellow countries from the developed western world…
The United States has Medical marijuana in 13 states, California is currently debating the legalisation of cannabis for recreational purposes
The dutch have arguably the most cannabis friendly attitude in europe,
Recent changes in both spainish and portugese drugs policy with the decriminalisation of cannabis – with portugal decriminalising all drugs.
Canada has had a fairly relaxed attitude towards cannabis Superior and appellate courts in Ontario have repeatedly declared Canada’s marijuana laws to be of no force and effect.The cultivation of cannabis is currently illegal in Canada, with exceptions only for medical usage.
Medical marijuana will soon be available in Germany, with the centre-right coalition preparing to make ground-breaking changes to drug laws, a government health spokeswoman said this week.
The UK? Classification of Cannabis has become especially controversial. In 2004, Cannabis was reclassified from class B to class C, in accordance with advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). In 2009, it was returned to class B against ACMD advice. Surely our drugs policy be based upon science and fact? Not historical prejudices and misconceptions.
Cannabis is illegal to possess and/or cultivate under the 1971 Misuse of drugs act. That is unless you get a license to grow it from the home office… After detailed research i could only find evidence of one company ever recieving such a license.
On the 11th of June 1998, a UK-based company, GW Pharmaceuticals received a license from the Home Office in order to conduct research into the medicinal uses of cannabis. The company had noted the large amounts of evidence that cannabis has beneficial effects on a number of medical symptoms.
GW Pharmaceuticals then set out to conduct controlled clinical trials to evaluate these with a view to producing a final product to bring relief to thousands of sufferers to whom existing pharmacological treatments do not suffice. GW Pharmaceuticals thus became the only company in the UK licensed to provide raw cannabis materials for trials. Since then Sativex has been granted a UK license – this was granted in June of this year.
“My professional view of cannabis as a substance is that it appears to be a remarkably safe substance in comparison to most medicines prescribed today. The more I learn about this plant the more fascinated I become. It has through its various constituents multiple effects of therapeutic interest, many of which are now being validated by the enormous growth in basic cannabinoid research.” – Dr Geoffrey Guy, Chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals.
There was an interesting interview on CNBC with Dr Guy and he confirmed that GW Pharmaceuticals are developing a whole range of products from the cannabis plant which will deal with Cancer pain, epilepsy, diabetes and inflammatory diseases. Their work with cancer patients in the US is already under way.They already have approval in canada for cannabis based medicines in advanced cancer patients – primarily pain relief.
So Cannabis the evil drug has serious potential as a medicine – this is one of the key things that seperate it from other drugs. Cannabis has real medical benefits.
Drug classification: making a hash of it? is the title of a report authored by the UK Science and Technology Select Committee and submitted to the British House of Commons. It was published in July 2006. The report suggested that the current system of recreational drug classification in the UK was arbitrary and unscientific and suggested a more scientific measure of harm be used for classifying drugs.
A quick look at the facts on alcohol…
Alcohol related deaths in the UK rose to 9,031 in 2008, up from 8,724 the previous year
– Branwen Jeffreys, Health Correspondent, BBC News
Drug related deaths in the UK rose to 1,952 in 2008, up from 1900 the previous year
-St George’s University of London, Drug related deaths in the UK, Annual report 2009
So almost 5 times more people died from alcohol related deaths than drug related deaths in 2008 yet alcohol isn’t covered under the misuse of drugs act. Number of cannabis related deaths out of the 1,952 drug related deaths… ZERO.
Alcohol features in almost 50% of violent crime, yet isn’t covered under the misuse of drugs act – this is because we know that for the large part alcohol is consumed responsibly by the majority of people who choose to use it.
We should be able to do the same with cannabis (And cannabis has been proven to assist with a number of different medical conditions) Alcohol has no proven medical benefits – the only one i could find was the use of it as an anti septic or disinfectant.
So alcohol is involved in more deaths & violent crime than cannabis yet is regulated and controlled – And not by the misuse of drugs act!
In essence we need to re-examine our attitudes towards cannabis and its criminalisation. The issue at hand is multi-faceted and extremely complex, this should not however stop us from engaging with the issue
Cannabis needs to be decriminalised and the sooner the better