Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Cannabis is OK - The Debate is Over

OK, it’s time to end this debate, once and for all.

• Cannabis Is Relatively Harmless

• Harsh Laws Do Not Work

• Potency Increases Are A Myth

This is scientific fact and there is evidence to back it up. If you disagree, you are wrong ... simple. There, now I have said it. End of discussion, final, it’s over, no buts about it, just accept it. There has to be a cut off point somewhere and I am declaring it now. How much more evidence can be produced as we are already just repeating the same studies? What? So you have read differently? What you have read is wrong or it has been manipulated to suit the agenda of the writer. Go back and reread it. Am I wrong? No, I’m not but don’t take my word for it, read the evidence below.

EMCDDA have produced a 700 page report about cannabis. The two-volume report aims to provide an authoritative reference work on scientific research, legislation and policy issues associated with the drug in Europe.

A cannabis reader: global issues and local experiences [read]

EMCDDA, Lisbon, June 2008

Cannabis is the most-used illicit drug in Europe, but it can also be a major source of division and debate among politicians, scientists, police, professionals and citizens

As a result the public faces a daily flow of information on cannabis, some of it well-founded, but some of it militant and at times misleading.

The report is designed as a guide to inform research, debate and policymaking on the substance.

-Wolfgang Goetz. Director - EMCDDA

My worry is that even all of the evidence in this article will not influence those of the Zero Tolerance / prohibitionist view point. We have seen the Reefer Madness propaganda campaigns in the US and the junk science reports coming out lately at amazing rates but these approaches seem to catch the public eye. Whilst there has been ample reports in the media about the relative safety of cannabis for the last 30 years, it’s the alarmist viewpoints that have dominated especially recently. Supposed legitimate organisations have put out many statements that are simply wrong or purposely misleading. Such organisations as the US Drug Czar’s office, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNOCD) are notorious for deceitful practices and they influence most of the world’s drug policies.

Locally, Australia is also guilty of mass propaganda against cannabis with the government probably the biggest offender. Given the influence of the religious right and hard core prohibition supporting journalists, our government is prepared to follow the populist route and mislead the public. Then we have our friends, Drug Free Australia (DFA) who are funded by us, the tax payer to lie and ignore real evidence with religo-psyco babble and family values rhetoric.

All that is history now as I have declared the debate is over. Evidence has won out and the Disneyland morals brigade have lost. After you have read the EMCDDA 700 page report, read it again and then read on below for some more research that show up the anti-cannabis extremists as the liars that they are.

Cannabis Safer Than Alcohol Or Tobacco, Says Study

Irish Examiner

June 2008

CANNABIS is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, according to a major review published by the EU drugs agency.

The report said most users cease smoking cannabis by their late 20s or early 30s and that the vast majority did not experience any negative effects.

“On every comparison of dangerousness we have considered, cannabis is at or near the bottom in comparison with other psychoactive substances,” said author Robin Room, in an analysis contained in a 700-page EU report on cannabis.

The report, A Cannabis Reader: Global Issues and Local Experiences, was published yesterday by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction to coincide with international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

Mr Room examined a range of research on the health effects of legal and illegal drugs, which compared the substances based on dangerousness or harm, degree of intoxication and dependence. These found:

* Harm: Ecstasy and cocaine highest, followed by alcohol and heroin, with cannabis lowest.

* Intoxication: Alcohol highest, heroin next, then cocaine, cannabis fourth.

* Dependence: Tobacco highest, heroin second, cocaine third, alcohol fourth and cannabis lowest.

The study follows a report this week by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, which highlighted sharp rises in cannabis use in many parts of Ireland.

Mr Room said a report by the French Roques committee divided the effects of drugs between general toxicity — involving direct health damage — and “social dangerousness”, with criminal and other behaviour resulting.

It rated cannabis as “very weak” in terms of toxicity and “weak” in terms of social dangerousness.

In comparison, alcohol was rated “strong” for both, with tobacco “very strong” and “none” respectively.

Heroin was rated “strong” (except for medical doses) for toxicity and “very strong” for social dangerousness. Cocaine was also rated “strong” and “very strong”.

Mr Room said the current international restrictions on cannabis were “too harsh”, compared with the greatly under-regulated systems for alcohol and tobacco.

In a separate analysis on the health impact of cannabis, researcher John Witton concluded: “Most cannabis users cease smoking cannabis by their late 20s or early 30s and the vast majority do not experience any adverse effects.”

He said a minority continue their use and that long-term heavy users reported negative health effects.

Forum: Decriminalization Of Cannabis

Wim van den Brink

Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research Academic Medical Center,

University of Amsterdam Department of Psychiatry, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Conclusion :

This paper has shown that cannabis use is not without risks, that criminalization is an expensive strategy involving considerable policing, prosecution and a fair amount of incarceration, that decriminalization does not result in lower prices and higher consumption rates, nor in more severe patterns of cannabis use, that prohibition and criminalization are associated with social harms to the cannabis user, that decriminalization may reduce the association between cannabis use and schizophrenia and between cannabis use and the use of other illicit drugs, and that criminalization may reduce the legitimacy of the judicial system.

What are the implications of these conclusions for the debate on criminalization versus decriminalization? Evaluation of prevention strategies, including national drug policies, should be subject to the normal conventions of health technology assessment; that is, it should be evidence-based, cost-effective, acceptable to the public receiving it and not generate substantial collateral harms. It seems not very likely that a more vigorous criminal-jusitice-based approach would fulfil these criteria.

A further decriminalization combined with quality control, price measures including taxation, primary and secondary prevention of use and harm reduction through age restrictions and limitations of the number of cannabis retail outlets may postpone early onset of cannabis use and stabilize or even reduce cannabis consumption rates.

Finally, low-threshold and free-of-charge treatment facilities are needed for those who – despite preventive actions – develop physical or mental health problems. Given the available scientific data, existing repressive, expensive and unsuccessful criminal justice policies should be replaced by humane, effective and more efficient health policies such as those currently implemented in many of the European countries, including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and many others.

Cannabis Potency And Contamination: A Review Of The Literature

-National Center for Biotechnology Information

-Addiction Journal


Aims: Increased potency and contamination of cannabis have been linked in the public domain to adverse mental health outcomes. This paper reviews the available international evidence on patterns of cannabis potency and contamination and potential associated harms, and discusses their implications for prevention and harm reduction measures.

Methods: A systematic literature search on cannabis potency and contamination was conducted.

Results: Cannabis samples tested in the United States, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Italy have shown increases in potency over the last 10 years. Some countries have not shown significant increases in potency, while other countries have not monitored potency over time. While there are some grounds to be concerned about potential contaminants in cannabis, there has been no systematic monitoring.

Conclusion: Increased potency has been observed in some countries, but there is enormous variation between samples, meaning that cannabis users may be exposed to greater variation in a single year than over years or decades. Claims made in the public domain about a 20- or 30-fold increase in cannabis potency and about the adverse mental health effects of cannabis contamination are not supported currently by the evidence. Systematic scientific testing of cannabis is needed to monitor current and ongoing trends in cannabis potency, and to determine whether cannabis is contaminated. Additionally, more research is needed to determine whether increased potency and contamination translates to harm for users, who need to be provided with accurate and credible information to prevent and reduce harms associated with cannabis use.

Jennifer McLaren - National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia,

Wendy Swift - National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia,,

Paul Dillon - National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia

Steve Allsop - National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Australia


kayakotto said...

The last thing marijuana is - is harmless! I was addicted to the noble weed for over two decades, losing jobs, relationships, health, motivation, and integrity because it was more important for me to get high than to learn the lessons life had to offer and benefit from.

Anonymous said...

But isn't that more about your management of your addiction Kayakotto? People can go overboard with coffee, gambling, shopping and even proselytistic behavior.

Firesnake said...

The word "harmless" is on this page twice. Terry wrote "relatively" harmless", as a bullet point, highlighting the necessity of respecting evidence. Kayakotto notes it is not "harmless" to everyone. Which is a point Terry didn't try to make. What I see is a welcome deconstruction of media hype, unfounded beliefs, rash conclusions and the sources from whence this comes.

I agree with Terry and in fact the evidence surrounding potency, growing techniques and use doesn't come close to making a causal link b/w cannabis use and onset of mental illness.

When it comes to semantics, claiming to be "addicted" to cannabis is a little ambitious, and sadly drives "justification" for appalling discrimination by abstience proponents. By claiming the miseries of "addiction" some have exploited the opportunity to exert larger discrimination to "save others from themselves".

Very trendy, very cool and rather dashing for us aging dudes, who refuse to accept we use drugs, because life is at times unsatisfying. Cannabis dependency is not nice and is markedly misunderstood.

Abuse of and dependence upon "the noble weed" are not the same. This may sound strange, but the "beauty" of poly-addiction is one somewhat quickly loses ground from which to blame drugs as the sole cause.

When people use drugs for reasons that are very human, and our laws are directly punishing people and ruining lives, we have a problem Houston. No-one expects to really predict how this will play out. But, review prohibition we must.

That means justifying or rejecting the reasons and rhetoric behind it's apparent integrity. As for this post, I'd say Terry has once again reminded us we do not learn from history.

DFA Watch.

Terry Wright said...

Well said, Anon. and thanks Firesnake for another insightful response.

Thanks Kayakotto for your comment.
As Firesnake pointed out, I said "relatively harmless". There's no doubt that cannabis can be harmful but for the majority of users, it causes very few problems which are out weighted by the enjoyment they get from it. Most people would agree that alcohol should not be banned for the same reasons even though the damage is huge in comparison.

The missing factor as always, is that drugs are enjoyable for most users.