Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Christian Institute on Drugs

There has been much debate lately about the UK government’s decision to flatly reject the advice of their own appointed expert group, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and not down grade ecstasy to a class B drug. Several media articles have suggested that by ignoring scientific evidence, common sense and reason, the UK government has failed to act in the best interests of the people.

The Christian Institute added their voice to the debate with an article titled,
'Killer' drug ecstasy to remain in class A on their website. The article was typical of their prohibitionist stance including quotes from supporters of the government’s decision.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said: “Ecstasy can and does kill unpredictably. The Government has a duty to protect the public and firmly believes that ecstasy should remain a Class A drug.”

Unsurprisingly, the comments were the usual mishmash of moral issues and anti-drug sound bytes.

Ian Johnston, president of the Police Superintendents’ Association, said: “This is not some academic or scientific exercise, this is dealing with people’s lives. If we downgrade ecstasy, we are in danger of sending mixed messages out to young and vulnerable people.”

The article even included a comment from discredited anti-drug crusader, Professor, Andy Parrott.

Professor Andy Parrott of Swansea University, who has spent more than 14 years conducting research into ecstasy, says Prof Nutt has significantly understated the number of deaths caused by the drug.

In what might come as a bit of a surprise to some, the article also included a matter-of-fact statement that down classing cannabis was a disaster.

In 2004, under advice from the ACMD, the Government downgraded cannabis from class B to class C. It proved to be a disaster and the Government reversed the policy earlier this year.
The Christian Institute -  'Killer' drug ecstasy to remain in class A

But it wasn't a disaster. Cannabis use actually dropped during the period of being a class C drug. The evidence for the claimed “disaster” goes back to an earlier article by The Christian Institute:

Since the downgrade of cannabis in 2004 judges, police, parents and mental health experts have called for the move to be reversed because of the damage it has caused.

The availability of skunk - the strongest form of cannabis - has soared since the law was weakened. According to Home Office research, it now accounts for between 70% and 80% of samples seized by police, compared with 15% six years ago.

In April senior police officers called for a return to tougher laws. The Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales argued that cannabis should be returned to class B to “…send out a clear message - especially to the vulnerable and the young - that cannabis is illegal and can be dangerous.”

They said: “The downgrading to Class ‘C’ sent out the wrong message, unintentionally suggesting that cannabis was harmless and legal.”
-The Christian Institute: Lords consider plan for tougher cannabis laws

Here are the facts:

Senior police want cannabis reclassified

"This has been exacerbated by the wider availability of stronger forms of the drug. Many heroin and cocaine users began their drug dependency with cannabis use in their teens,"
-The Superintendents' Association

How about that for a statement! Hinting that cannabis will lead to heroin and cocaine dependency is straight from the anti-drug crusaders handbook of propaganda. Maybe they should have cleared up the fact that hard drug users also started drinking alcohol, coffee and slurpees too and that cannabis itself is not the factor that leads to heroin and cocaine. It ‘s mainly those at the top of the Superintendents' Association that are voicing their support to reclassify cannabis. There have been several senior police who have publicly dismissed the need to reclassify cannabis but they don’t rate a mention in any articles by The Christian Institute. Some district police chiefs have even called for an end to prohibition all together and many are not prepared to enforce cannabis laws.

Sends the wrong message
The champion of all anti-drug slogans. Whether it actually means anything in the real world is debatable. The trade off for “sending the right message” is usually the truth or even people’s lives.

Stronger potency (skunk)
Debunked. Higher potency leads to less intake which ironically is probably a a plus for stronger cannabis. A simple comparison can be made with alcohol. If someone drinks 2 bottles of beer on a given night, they wouldn’t consume 2 bottles of whisky just because it’s available. Anti-drug crusaders cannot grasp the concept that drug users pace themselves and instead subscribe to the myth that taking drugs means getting as stoned as possible, as quickly as possible.

Cannabis is a gateway to harder drugs
Disproved many years ago. The only gateway effect is from strict cannabis laws that force both hard and soft drug users into the same circles. Cannabis does not lead to users wanting something harder.

Links to mental illness

The BBC's home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the Advisory Council had been looking at new research from Keele University about links between cannabis and mental illness. He said the study found nothing to support a theory that rising cannabis use had led to more cases of schizophrenia.
-BBC: Police want cannabis reclassified

Cannabis use has increased ten fold since the 1960s but schizophrenia cases have not increased per capita. Also, psychosis is only triggered in those that are predisposed to the condition. Heavy use though does cause mental health problems. For an average user, moderate use does not cause mental illness.

So much for the truth.

But this is not just about the rejection of research and evidence. There is nothing factual to suggest that stricter laws prevent drug use and the fact they supported the reversal of an already successful strategy reveals how far they will go to assert their ideology. Conservative media outlets like The Christian Institute have driven the government to make irrational and totally bogus decisions that will go down in history as some of the worst policy making ever. The BBC politely sum it up.

If the government does reclassify, it would be rejecting the findings of the Advisory Council's panel of 23 drug experts, which has never happened before on a decision about drug classification.
-BBC: Police want cannabis reclassified

The Christian Institute are consistent with their agenda, using religious teachings as an excuse to support punitive treatment of drug users and the damning of harm reduction. Luckily for them, the ambiguity of the bible and a vast array of moral symbolism in religion allows them to pick and choose the parts that suit their agenda. This gives them great scope to promote their cause especially to conservatives and evangelists.

From a Christian perspective, harm reduction greases the tracks of sin.
-The Christian Institute: What we believe - Harm reduction approaches are un-Christian

Like all organisations of the religious right, they hate drugs and abstinence is king. They make several references to drug use on their website in the
What We Believe section and even include Harm Reduction as a major topic.

This philosophy is superficially appealing because it has a desirable goal – the reduction of harm. Many people have been taken in by this profoundly naïve philosophy. But by opposing restraint, ‘harm reduction’ actually increases the number of people involved in a harmful activity rather than reducing it.

The aims of The Christian Institute aren’t about helping addicts or finding a realistic solution. Their selective pickings from the bible and broad moral topics are merely disingenuous attempts to push conservative values and really have nothing to do with the goodwill of a loving god.

The Bible bluntly teaches that drunkenness is wrong: “Do not get drunk on wine” (Ephesians 5:18). Intoxication and loss of control are intrinsic to taking drugs.

Intoxication is also wrong because of escapism. People cannot solve their problems by running away from them. Down the ages Christians have been at the forefront of battling against the epidemic of public drunkenness and the personal tragedy of alcoholism. Now Christians must take a stand as it becomes ever more fashionable to argue for the legalisation of all drugs.
-The Christian Institute: What we believe - Taking Drugs is Wrong

I am sure a munificent Jesus would be cringing at the idea of a profit based institution using his name to alienate people. It seems this brand of religion is void of the original Christian values and more interested in becoming powerful, political and rich.

The Christian Institute exists for "the furtherance and promotion of the Christian religion in the United Kingdom" and "the advancement of education". The Christian Institute is a nondenominational Christian charity committed to upholding the truths of the Bible. We are supported by individuals and churches throughout the UK. We believe that the Bible is the supreme authority for all of life and we hold to the inerrancy of Scripture.
-The Christian Institute website - Who we are


Reuben said...

Why anyone would put the words 'Christian' and 'intellectual' in the same sentence and expect to pass an oxymoron test is frankly beyond me.

Terry Wright said...

Shhhsh Reuben. Don't you know that it's impossible to have principles or morals without god?

I feel sorry for you being godless. What an empty existence. Now go and read the bible!!!