The following is the cover article from our second print issue. The petition for an inquiry referred to here has past. Of course, not enough signatures were collected. It is, however, important to reproduce the arguments online, in anticipation of another such petition which may come in the future.
~ ~ ~
Marijuana – long characterised as soft, harmless and not worth police time to curb its use – is increasingly being seen for what it really is: a dangerous, mind-altering and potentially life-ruining drug.
In the last five years alone, the consumption of marijuana has led to more than 125,000 hospital admissions (15,000 by teenagers). Some of these people, suffering serious psychosis, had to be rushed to A&E departments across the country. In February, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford and Montreal’s McGill University found there was ‘robust’ evidence that marijuana usage in adolescence increases the chance of one developing depression in later life by almost 40 percent. These researchers also associated the drug with attempts of suicide. Though the drug’s full effect on the young, developing mind will likely never be wholly understood, it is increasingly accepted that it does particular damage to children’s educational upbringing and school life, stunting success in later life.
Many personal accounts, such as that made by Henry Cockburn and his father Patrick in their book Henry’s Demons (which I recommended in the first issue of this magazine, and recommend again now), have quashed the ludicrous claim that marijuana usage affects no one other than the consumer themselves. Do consumers have no friends, family or loved ones? Do they not, when they destroy their ability to look after themselves, rely on these people and, ultimately, all others in the state (through the NHS)?
Those in favour of legalisation often argue that marijuana can’t be a dangerous or harmful drug as ‘it hasn’t ever killed anybody, has it!’ To these people, serious psychosis, depression, the hampering of educational and so general life development and the ruination of families is not enough. How, then, would they react to the drug being linked not only to mental illness but to violent crime?
‘It can’t make you violent,’ they might say: ‘it just makes you calm and hungry.’ A growing list of violent criminal acts (road deaths, rapes and murders included) carried out by known users of this peace-inducing drug suggests otherwise. This, of course, only indicates a correlation (though, a strong one at that) between marijuana use and violence. Surely it should be in all of our interests to see whether this link is provable (so as to inform future policy on the matter) through the inquiry being suggested on an online petition.
Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens has been a firm backer of this petition (and indeed of the issue as a whole, having pointed to the possible link between marijuana and violence in his 2012 book The War We Never Fought by listing news-paper reports of criminal acts carried out by, again, known users of the drug). In an exclusive comment, he has told Bournbrook:
‘This smug generation thinks it knows everything and so is incredibly incurious. Evidence of major problems and their possible solutions lies all about in plain sight unexamined. I believe a good example of this is the correlation between use of the drug marijuana and violent crime, which is striking as soon as it is examined.
‘If only the government can be induced to make a proper inquiry into this, and using its powers and resources to gather the full evidence, there is hope that policy towards this very dangerous drug will alter, and that we will adopt the measures abandoned here long ago but still successfully used by Japan and South Korea to curb its use.’
The last point Mr. Hitchens raises is particularly worth highlighting here. The legaliser’s argument goes that the government’s efforts to curb use through restrictive laws and harsh punishments has failed so we have no choice but to legalise. On the contrary, the government has failed in this aim as the laws in place have not been enforced (more on this in another issue!). If, like countries such as Japan and South Korea, we were to enforce these laws, far more people would be deterred from coming into contact with marijuana (and other dangerous drugs) in the first place.
This petition was launched by blogger Ross Grainger. When approached by Bournbrook, Mr. Grainger commented the following:
‘An investigation into the link between cannabis and violence is urgent not only because of the scale of the problem (working alone, I, an amateur blogger, have found hundreds of cases going back more than 20 years), but because there are, of course, very powerful forces at work in this country and around the world to legalise cannabis. Last December, for example, while most of the country was distracted by the matter of trying to exit the EU, a Liberal Democrat MP named Norman Lamb tried to smuggle a cannabis legalisation bill through Parliament. Despite cross-party support, including from nine Conservative MPs, he failed by 14 votes. Like a lot of people, Mr Lamb uses the red herring of ‘medical’ cannabis to soften attitudes to the pleasure drug. Anyone who does this is either a charlatan or a fool, but in Mr Lamb’s case I’m not sure which. Whatever his true reasons, with his party and others openly committed to this wicked and stupid policy, and with so much money to be made, further attempts at legalisation will follow.’
Read more of Mr. Grainger’s writing at attackersmokedcannabis.com.
The petition, having reached over 12,000 signatures and received a feeble response from the government, can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/231109
Your signature is needed.
~ ~ ~
Or, at least, it was. Alas, it is too late.
Photo by GoToVan on Flickr.