Mr Cameron, It’s You Who Needs Education About Cannabis!
See the interview here. The relevant part starts at 10:45.
Al Jazeera: This was incidentally, the second most popular question because viewers would submit questions and then members of the public would vote.
Why is marijuana illegal when alcohol and tobacco are more addictive and dangerous to our health, but we manage to control them? Wouldn’t education about drugs from a younger age be better?
Cameron: Well there’s one bit of that question I agree with which I think education about drugs is vital and we should make sure that education programmes are there in our schools and we should make sure that they work. But I don’t really accept the rest of the question. I think if you actually look at the sort of marijuana that is on sale today, it is actually incredibly damaging, very, very toxic and leads to, in many cases, huge mental health problems. But I think the more fundamental reason for not making these drugs legal is that to make them legal would make them even more prevalent and would increase use levels even more than they are now. So I don’t think it is the right answer. I think a combination of education, also treatment programmes for drug addicts, I think those are the two most important planks of a proper anti-drug policy.
Al Jazeera: What about the argument that it could be used as medicinal properties? That was another question we actually had, a person saying it’s got proven medicinal properties. If used properly and regulated properly it could actually be quite helpful.
Cameron: That is a matter for the science and medical authorities to determine and they are free to make independent determinations about that. But the question here about whether illegal drugs should be made legal, my answer is no.
Dear Mr Cameron,
I am writing about your answer to the question about marijuana during the recent Al Jazeera World View YouTube interview.
I am the recently elected leader of the LCA. I represent the interests of at least two million regular users of cannabis and perhaps as many as 10 million occasional users in Britain. This is a huge proportion of the population and on their behalf I am requesting a meeting with you.
We were dismayed, shocked even, at your answer to the question. With respect, clearly it is you who are in great need of education about cannabis. The information you gave was inaccurate and false. While we must all respect different opinions, your answer was factually wrong and you must correct it.
Cannabis is not “incredibly damaging”, nor “very, very toxic”. It is a myth that there is anything significantly different about the cannabis on sale today and the idea that it causes “in many cases, huge mental health problems” has been comprehensively disproved many times over by scientists all over the world.
I can provide you with scientific information which proves that these ideas are false. Recently we have been pursuing various newspapers through the Press Complaints Commission for publishing the same inaccuracies. I am seriously alarmed when I see the prime minster of my country distributing such untruths.
Two key facts:
The Therapeutic Ratio of cannabis (ED50:LD50) is 1:40000 (Alcohol = 1:10, Paracetamol = 1:30). Even potatoes are more toxic than cannabis.
Professor Glyn Lewis of the University of Bristol reviewed all published research on cannabis and psychosis in 2009 and concluded that 96% of people have no risk whatsoever and in the remaining 4% the risk is “statistically tiny”.
Your suggestion that legalising drugs increases use is also not supported by the evidence. In both Holland and Portugal where cannabis use is not prosecuted, consumption is much lower than in Britain.
Finally, on medicinal use it is simply not true that the scientific and medical authorities are free to make independent determinations. The Home Office stamps on any medicinal cannabis use even when prescribed by a doctor. People from other European countries can bring medicinal cannabis to Britain and use it legally under the Schengen agreement but you can’t if you’re British. Here, sick and disabled people are being prosecuted every day for use of a medicine which is scientifically and medically proven. Surely you cannot be unaware of this? It is a cruel and evil policy which shames our nation.
So please, Mr Cameron, will you meet with me in order that I may show you the evidence and the facts about cannabis? Remember, this was the second most popular question you were asked on Friday and I represent the interests of millions of British citizens. Please make time for me in your diary.
I look forward to hearing from you.