“Up and down like a whore’s knickers” could be the phrase used to describe the British government’s pathetic attempts to regulate cannabis use, or ‘abuse’, as some prefer to call it.
Originally a “Class B” drug, in 2004 the government of Tony Blair downgraded it to “Class C”, at the behest of most experts and senior police officers, meaning less severe penalties for possession.
Now, prime minister Gordon Brown has decided to up it again to “Class B”, presumably as the only means open to him of proving he can think for himself and not just mirror Tony Blair’s old policies.
There are numerous ways he may have achieved that goal – pulling all British troops out of Iraq, is the most obvious to come to mind – but this is undoubtedly one of the most stupid. Flip-flopping over the question of illegal recreational drugs merely proves the government doesn’t know its own mind and succumbs to the whim of whichever pressure group shouts the loudest.
The excuse for this back-tracking hangs around the potency of “skunk”, a hybrid marijuana plant bred for its superior quality. Critics say it’s much stronger than “ordinary” pot, intensifying the possible ill-effects that are rumored to occur from consistently smoking twenty or more joints a day.
Investigation of the spin surrounding cannabis use reveals a hotch-potch of pressure groups from the Christian Mother’s Union to DrugScope, the UK’s leading independent center of expertise on drugs, whose chief executive Martin Barnes said recently:
“There is no evidence that reclassifying cannabis to Class B will reduce levels of use, levels of harm or the availability of the drug.”
Which begs the question, why then are they doing it?
The sudden political panic over skunk marijuana merely focuses on the ineptitude of the politicians expressing alarm about it. Skunk has been around for years and is widely used throughout Europe (and probably the US). It’s been available in Amsterdam coffee shops for nigh on twenty years, to my knowledge.
Britain’s home secretary, Jacqui Smith – a woman I find particularly unappealing in every way, not least because she bears the same maiden name as my second wife – says she’s not prepared to risk the future health of young people because of “uncertainty” over its impact on mental health.
Or, to put it another way: as there’s no evidence of any impact on mental health, except possibly to those already sufficiently gullible and retarded as to consider smoking twenty or more cannabis joints every day perfectly acceptable, we, the government, are prepared to imprison normal adult people for five years for daring to partake of a substance certainly no more dangerous than nicotine, a freely available drug from which we, the government, make millions of pounds in taxation every year.
Recently, Gordon Brown commissioned an Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs’ review to assess this very issue. The review advised keeping marijuana classified “C”, stating that there was a “probable, but weak, causal link between psychotic illness, including schizophrenia, and cannabis use”, but in the population as a whole it played only a “modest role” in the development of these conditions.
One reason it’s so difficult to ascertain any ill-effects from cannabis use is because no-one admits to using it. It took years before scientists firmly established the ill-effects of nicotine, a freely available substance. How can they possibly determine the consequences of using an illegal substance that no-one dare admit to? The only studies are on already psychologically disturbed individuals usually hauled before the courts for petty crime and found to be users. Just how scientific is that? Yet, it’s apparently perfectly acceptable to our political leaders, looking for an excuse to bolster their flagging popularity.
How sensible it would be to decriminalize all drugs, fund research into the true benefits and drawbacks, then apply sensible logic to dealing with any problems encountered.
In this instance, “sensible logic” does not include incarcerating people for exercising the right to do what they wish in the privacy of their own home.
Of course, no government anywhere has ever been held in esteem for its ability to display sensible logic.
Truly, nothing’s really changed since 1936:
Filed under: Drug the government