Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Even The Guardian Is Now On The ‘Skunk Scaremongering’ Bandwagon.

with 4 comments

guardian cannabis psychosis headline picRead The Guardian’s Editorial Here

In the last couple of years, even the Daily Mail has shifted its stance on cannabis as it sees opportunities to sensationalise ‘miracle cures’ from medicinal use – the epileptic child now smiling, the cancer patient whose tumour has disappeared. Truth and balance are irrelevant when a dramatic headline is all you’re after.

The Daily Telegraph has become the new home of ‘reefer madness’ with bad science, nasty prejudice and booze-fuelled fear of a safer recreational drug threatening the massive profits of the alcohol industry.

Now, even the Guardian jumps on the ‘skunk scaremongering’ bandwagon with the exaggerated claim that “the risks of heavy teenage cannabis consumption should frighten all of us”. In a backhanded editorial it suggests legalisation because cannabis is dangerous. It claims the consequences of cannabis “abuse are devastating. Psychotic breakdowns smash up lives and can lead to full-blown schizophrenia.” There is little evidence to support such hysteria. In reality, such effects are so rare as to be virtually unheard of and it’s impossible to prove they are caused by cannabis.

Of course we must protect young people, particularly from the high-THC/low-CBD ‘moonshine’ varieties that are a direct result of government policy. However, we cannot compromise facts and evidence for the illusory belief that buying into scare stories will somehow reduce harm. The only way to protect children is by legal regulation with mandatory age limits.

The Guardian makes much of Public Health England’s (PHE) figure that “there are more than 13,000 under-18s in treatment for the consequences of heavy cannabis use in England”. It neglects to mention that PHE also publishes more than 69% are referred by the criminal justice, education and social care systems while only 17% are referred from healthcare and just 11% by themselves or their family. Thus, more than two-thirds are receiving coercive treatment and only 11% actually consider they have a problem.

It is government propaganda that thousands of young people are suffering from mental health problems due to cannabis. Why is The Guardian promoting this myth? Last year, in answer to a Parliamentary question, Jane Ellison MP, minister of state at the Department of Health, revealed there have been average of just over 28 ‘finished admission episodes’ (FAE) for ‘cannabis-induced psychosis’ in young people for each of the past five years.

Of course, each of these 28 cases is a tragedy for the people involved and nothing must distract from that but it clearly shows that in public health terms, ‘cannabis psychosis’ is of negligible significance. To put it into perspective, there are an estimated 3,000 FAEs for peanut allergy each year but we don’t waste £500 million pa on futile law enforcement efforts to ban peanuts!

For 50 years, the Home Office has systematically misled and misinformed the British people about cannabis. Successive generations of young people know they have been lied to. Such dishonest health information is counterproductive. As a result, many children may think that heroin or crack are not as harmful as they have been told.

Cannabis is not harmless but neither is it ‘dangerous’. If you apply that description to it you also have to apply it to energy drinks, over-the-counter painkillers and hay fever remedies. Similarly, whatever scaremongering there is about ‘addiction’, the scientific evidence is that dependency amongst regular cannabis users is slightly less than caffeine dependency amongst regular coffee drinkers – and withdrawal symptoms are similar in nature and intensity.

What we need is evidence-based policy. Government needs to take responsibility for the £6 billion pa cannabis market instead of abandoning our young people and communities to street dealers and criminal gangs. The benefits to be gained from cannabis law reform are reduced health and social harms, massive public expenditure savings, increased tax revenue and proper protection for the vulnerable, including children.

References

Young people’s statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS), Public Health England, December 2015
Drugs: Young People. Department of Health written question – answered on 20th March 2015.
Relative Addictiveness of Drugs, Dr. Jack E. Henningfield, NIDA and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, UCLA, 1994

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4 Responses

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  1. What a ******* joke! If all science was done this way we would all still be in the dark ages! This is not excepting, these so called newspapers must like people to suffer and die! Why else would they mislead us about this medicine?

    Rusty

    April 24, 2016 at 7:35 pm

  2. this is an excellent article-well done-I always moan to whoever will listen about eastenders and corrie doing everything they can to encourage mis-use of alcohol and saying how fed up I am when watching the paper review on sky and the bbc-that invariably and as often as is possible the millionaire upper middle class privileged politically obedient presenter and his 2 equally privileged and wealthy obedient journo’s or celebs who do the reviewing- talk about wine drinking and how wonderful and cultured drinking wine is -according to them its good to have detailed opinions about wine and it is considered slightly superior to prefer red to white wine-about 3 weeks ago i satand listened to the 3 of them waste half their entire 30 min episode comparing their wine tastes and habits.
    this makes me sick-worse than tobacco and as snobby and elitist and pathetic as golf or cricket or squash or polo or sailing -and I am a smoker-but the government encouraged smoking till about 1990we must remember.
    so in encouraging alcohol use it leads to abuse-which causes 1 in 5 kids in the uk to be bought up by at least one alcoholic parent-which causes sexual abuse and violence and a thousand other problems.
    this government wanted and tried to force through dozens of super-casinos just 10 years ago-thanks to Prescott the serial rapist and paedophile protector -whos son suddenly at a young age became a millionaire thanks to government related trade visits abroad and so on.
    sour governements love gambling-but why? it is so addictive and so harmful -so it seems ok to tax tobacco to death and yet taxes on alcohol can never even be discussed on tv as the media and the government claim taxes on alcohol or sugary drinks can never work-and as for the hugely beneficial and relatively harmless and totally non addictive skunk-well you have to state it is addictive if you are ever allowed to discuss it on tv and of course itisnt even taxed at all as it is the main cause of criminal interaction for the whole population of the uk.
    what mindset operates at state level in this country? how many poor brainless idiots who are completely controlled by the mass media disinformation think cannabis should be illegal and think no action must ever be taken against gambling or alcohol ?
    alcohol has zero benefit-only harm -the same as gambling and the same as tobacco-cannabis however has huge medical benefits and is recreational also-without any risk of addiction or criminality or violence.
    the only reason some cannabis users may be drawn into criminality is the associations they must make to access the market-as cannabis is totally illegal.
    I am not calling for gambling or alcohol to be made illegal or tobacco-im calling for recognition of the harm and then equal and science informed actions taken appropriately regarding societies controls of the various sources of harm-or lack of need for controls -all that sets the agenda to date and historically is crime and vested interests and hate and prejudice and a total lack of care for the children and the nhs service provision and police priorities and as for the fact every town and city centre is a no-go zone for normal people on fri and Saturday and often on thurs and sunday too-well that seems to be expected and good as not one thing has ever been done to make our town centres even safe -let alone usable.
    i think any average 5 year old could have done a better job regarding all these social/health/economic/crime issues -for one thing 5 year olds are not utterly corrupt like every single mp and senior civil servant is-no exceptions in my opinion.
    secondly no average 5 year old has such entrenched hatreds and prejudices.

    anyway my rant is over-I hope I haven’t offended anyone -but these are my views and my justifications and my proposals -im just asking for so balance and truth and informed decisions-that benefit all of society-we ruin millions of lives giving kids who smoke pot criminal records-we force disable people to have to go and seek out black street gangs-with their knives and attitude problems to source their medical cannabis and we cause the courts and prisons and social services and police to deal with an unworkable work load -all pointlessly and yet we are happy for hospitals to be full to the brim with mostly alcohol related cases and the hospitals are so violent that most now employ security guards -thanks to promoting the cheapest alcohol this country has ever had in its history-we also accept town centres are too dangerous to ever use by anyone on weekend evenings and we allow a fifth of all kids to have to live in an alcoholic household and all the suffering that leads to -plus gambling problems have also tripled thanks to Prescott and the government.
    I think even the smokers like me would agree with this and as I have no loads of alcoholics-I haven’t met one yet that doesnt agree with me and every celeb gambler on tv who has had problems also says the government have largely inflicted all this on us-zero benefits and maximum pain and due to the kids and city centres and disability and a & e’s and road users and so on -we all suffer-the whole of society truly suffers though most would never even have thought about this let alone considered questioning the governments competence and right and motivation.
    I would say we have never had a government better than 1 out of 10 -we should demand change and unite around common sense and fairness and effectiveness and consider all the many serious consequences of
    living in a country that actively encourages gambling addiction and alcohol abuse and yet puishes the disable for using cannabis as a self medication.

    steve cook

    April 24, 2016 at 8:52 pm

  3. Another great read Peter. The arguments really highlight how brain-dead mainstream media debate has become.

    Cryptolution (@jay_mm1)

    April 28, 2016 at 5:05 pm

  4. Please don’t fall in the trap by reprinting without sourchasm the lead photo of a boy with a hot burning overdose monoxide Joint (such photos being the part of the tabloid which indoctrinates children too young to read). The Joint is precisely the point: (A) the Guardian wants to get kids hooked on $igarettes; (B) keeping the public prejudiced against cannabis knocks out a possible substitute for addictive nicotine tobacco filler. And, as Derek has pointed out, possibly two-thirds of cannabis users in Britain are still admixturizing
    $igarette tobacco into the same Joint with the cannabis, a practice which the Australian Department of Health in an advisory referred to as a Trojan Horse leading to $igarette addiction:

    (A) The kid sees Mom reading your posting with that Guardian photo leading it, and

    (B) some old addict will teach her kid to puff on a Joint with tobacco in it… Zap! Hooked for Life! L-3000 a year for a pack-a-day habit. And the newspapers are there to blame it on the cannabis, don’t you know.

    Max Wood

    April 29, 2016 at 8:22 pm


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