Cannabis is more potent, more addictive than ever. Why are politicians failing to act?

Street Lottery, a report released today on cannabis and mental health, revealed the test results on cannabis seized by Greater Manchester Police. The data suggests that street cannabis in the UK is almost exclusively of the form that is higher potency, more addictive and more likely to induce psychosis than the forms which used to prevail.

That children have easy access to potent drugs is bad; people across the political spectrum purport to agree on this but almost universally fail to act.

In a recent focus group I attended, children aged between 13 and 18 were asked if it was easy to access cannabis. The immediate response was raucous laughter throughout the room. One boy pointed out that it is easier to access cannabis than food since his local shop had opening hours but his dealer provided a 24 hour delivery service. When asked how to access cannabis another boy said ‘knock on any door.’

Rather than focusing on the key issue (young people’s mental health) current policy’s stated aim on cannabis is to reduce overall consumption rather than reduce youth access or harms associated with cannabis use; this hasn’t worked. Despite decreasing levels of cannabis consumption we are seeing increasing rates of hospital admissions for psychosis: 46.3 per cent of first episode psychosis admissions had documented consumption of cannabis and, in terms of their demographic, were mainly male, single and between the ages of 16 and 25.

Socially conservative politicians extoll the elusive benefits of blanket prohibition of a multi-billion pound domestic market with more consumers than the combined populations of Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol. They do this knowing it will reduce overall use rates despite also knowing that this leaves the vast market in the hands of criminals who ask for no ID and act unconstrained from any form of regulation except violence, corruption and coercion.

Reformers seek decriminalisation of cannabis; the removal of criminal sanctions without the legal regulation of the plant. This response is a well-intentioned attempt to protect young people from harmful criminal records, redirect diminished police budgets and provide a more conducive environment for better drug education. These are all admirable aims but they miss the bigger opportunity.

Legalisation and regulation of cannabis provides an environment where regulations can encourage safer products, entrepreneurs can innovate safer and more enjoyable products, retail and distribution can be controlled in a way which limits children’s access to cannabis and tax revenue can be generated and pumped into drug treatment services which have recently been decimated by cuts.

The prohibition of cannabis, by far the most popular illicit drug in the UK and the world, has led to unconstrained market forces driving the product to its most potent and pernicious form which is then marketed highly successfully at young people.

When the USA finally gave up on the monumental folly of alcohol-prohibition they legalised ethanol but not methanol. This is a benefit of regulation. Nobody wants moonshine which makes you go blind. Equally nobody wants cannabis that might induce psychosis.

Cannabis is a complicated plant; there are different forms with different applications, different risks and different benefits. We need to engage with that and we can’t do so by leaving it nominally banned but lightening up on enforcement and nor can we do so by kicking doors down or throwing people in our drug-saturated prisons.

Meanwhile in Canada, I recently attended a highly professional and well attended cannabis conference. It was convened to discuss the new market for cannabis in Canada which will go live in July 2018 and is set to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in tax revenue and a complex regulatory environment placing the emphasis on reducing youth access, eradicating criminal involvement in the market and encouraging safer products and safer forms of consumption.

Esteemed scientists spoke about how less addictive and anti-psychotic extracts from the plant can be infused into drinks. No longer will people have to ruin their lungs in an attempt to get a high. Educators and charities spoke about well-funded, evidence-based youth education projects being rolled out with the tax revenue generated.

The contrast between Canada and the UK could not be starker; rather than gathering our best and brightest to tackle the issue head on we have shrugged and looked away. Prosecution rates have fallen to a fifth of what they were twenty years ago, the product has become considerably more addictive and more frequently associated with poor mental health and psychosis. We learnt that expensive enforcement didn’t help, but we haven’t bothered to investigate the other options.

Keep your eyes on Canada; they are building a market which is set to export both its safer products and safer policies around the globe and they will be all the safer and more prosperous for it. Regulated intelligently, the benefits will be self-evident. Who cares if more adults enjoy a low risk cannabis-infused alcohol-free beer in the evening if fewer children are stood on street corners selling and smoking increasingly harmful street cannabis?

  • davidraynes

    This is one of the most duplicitous articles on cannabis I have ever seen. Deliberately wrong or misleading in most of what it suggests.

    Firstly, cannabis use in the UK is contained to around 6 to 7% of the population, far below the 16% figure that use tobacco, (itself down from 48% in 1948).

    Yes cannabis IS harmful, very harmful for some. Around 1 in 9 or 10 who use regularly, become dependent.

    Yes there are numerous ill effects from cannabis, as even the legalisation lobbyists now acknowledge. Steve Rolles of Transform (Financed by George Soros to legalise and normalise all drugs) once famously said ,at an Advisory Council on Drug Misuse meeting, “Cannabis is much more harmful than we thought”.

    That is correct, but for years we were being told how harmLESS cannabis is by the very same people who claim NOW, it should be legalised because it is harmFUL.

    Then, the argument was, we can legalise it because it is largely harmless, NOW the argument is we must legalise it because of the harm.

    Both positions the well financed legalisation lobby take and have taken, are wrong, both are or were, deliberately dishonest.

    The laws around all drugs, legal or illegal, are about CONTAINMENT of harm . The best way to CONTAIN harm, is to limit or reduce totral use.

    The list of cannabis harms is extensive, from serious life changing permanent mental illness and psychosis (often associated with serious violence) through to the teratogenic and epigenetic effects not yet totally quantified but which could well be causing DNA damage that transcends more than one generation.

    In particular, the possible association of both cannabis and cocaine use with the world wide Gastroschisis epidemic (Babies born with large intestine outside their body cavity) is beginning to be taken seriously by academics, with clusters identified in high cannabis using areas of Canada.

    It is plain, given the examples of tobacco and alcohol, that there is much more room for Cannabis use to expand in a legalised and totally decriminalised scenario as this writer proposes. More use equals more harm it is that simple.

    Further and a very deliberate lie which I have regularly challenged Transform about, legalisation CANNOT remove the criminal market, after all legal tobacco and legal alcohol are major illegal commodities, counterfeited and smuggled all around the world, with at one stage around 25% of the UK tobacco market, smuggled counterfeit or both.

    Legalisation with a much larger market creates MORE opportunity for criminality, not less. Criminality would by pass age restrictions, by pass potency restrictions and prosper.

    Apply tax and criminality evades that and all the time more people would be using more cannabis for a greater part of their lives and creating a desirable adult behaviour for young people to copy.

    The costs of drugs harms to an economy are carried by us all, the social costs are carried by us all, the family misery created by teenagers damaged by cannabis is astonishing. Such teenagers become a burden on schools and mental health services, they fail to reach their human potential.

    The UK has done astonishingly well in containing cannabis use, especially as for 20 years we have been battered by legalisation lobbying articles like this, often financed by Soros.

    The Soros drugs strategy for 2014 to 2017, (available on dcleaks/soros) lists no less than eight organisations in the UK to help legalisation.

    Take that money away, there would hardly be a legalisation lobby. The people employed in it would need to get proper jobs.

    Do not waste your time George (both of you) the UK is probably the very last country in the anglophone world to consider legalising any currently legal drug.

    Both serious parties of government here, are agreed.

    You lost the debate.

    • Dicky Sumner

      Ahaha David Raynes the ex drugs enforcement office if i’m correct?

      • Ex-customs officer in fact.

        Yes, nowadays the prohibition movement has to rely on retired border guards as its scientific and medical ‘experts’.

        • davidraynes

          Which is probably just a tad more sensible than relying on potheads for policy, Peter?

          People who are cannabis dependent tend not to think too clearly about anyone or anything else.

          Anyway here is a reminder of you getting beaten in a debate on Cannabis legalisation.

          • It really is pathetic that you have no better argument than a personal attack David. You were Peter Hitchens’ sidekick in this debate and you won by one vote.

            In my formal debates with Peter Hitchens at various universities up and down the UK the score is Reynolds 5 Hitchens 1.

            I’m a medical journalist with 30 years experience. You’re a retired customs officer whose work Judge John Foley at Exeter Crown Court described as:

            “…a catalogue of flawed proceedings, illegalities and incompetence. This case has revealed a culture and climate of carelessness, recklessness and disregard for the rules, procedures and conventions of Maltese law, British law and international law.”


          • davidraynes

            And here is the very entertaining site “Peter Reynolds Watch”: (I have no connection with it):


          • Simon Smith

            Playing the man as opposed to the ball. Weak.

            You know you’re on the losing side. You’re an insignificant gnat on the rump of the dying beast called prohibition, you’ve no arguments, no inspiration, no humanity, hence your fascistic attitude.

          • davidraynes

            I think you meant “playing the man as opposed to the ball”!

            See what i mean about confused thinking?

          • R Craven

            Haha, nice one! He really is the Harvey Weinstein of the legalisation movement!

          • Navarth

            What possible reason can there be for a mature adult to take substances in the first place… unless you’re a self-obsessed hedonist? QED

          • malcolmkyle

            What possible reason can there be for a reasonable adult to believe that he can use the threat of prison to prevent drug use without causing outright mayhem.?

            “The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they [the prohibitionists] exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate — which is to say, upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are.”

            “They cannot stop the use of alcohol, nor even appreciably diminish it, but they can badger and annoy everyone who seeks to use it decently, and they can fill the jails with men taken for purely artificial offences, and they can get satisfaction thereby for the Puritan yearning to browbeat and injure, to torture and terrorize, to punish and humiliate all who show any sign of being happy. And all this they can do with a safe line of policemen and judges in front of them; always they can do it without personal risk.”

            —an extract from “Notes on Democracy” by Henry Louis Mencken, written in 1926, during alcohol prohibition, 1919-1933

          • Barkfin

            Apparently prohibition is alive & well in Western Australia. Not just for alcohol, but also for unleaded gas – now you have to buy OPAL fuel.

            It’s a terrible social emergency, up to $5,000 fine for bringing alcohol into the aboriginal lands of Western Australia. And you risk your life if anybody finds out you’ve got unleaded…

            (You can bury your head in the sand about the sad fact of desperate addiction, but who does that serve? Only your own addictive tendency. We all have one.)

          • Simon Smith

            Why do people eat food that tastes nice? For the enjoyment.

          • Simon Smith

            ‘Potheads’ don’t think clearly? More evidence you know nothing whatsoever about cannabis.

            I hope you don’t listen to music chap, the vast majority of it is made by ‘potheads’.

            You clearly know nothing of value about the plant, so why don’t you save the handful of years you have left, and go do something fulfilling with your time, instead of corrupting the place with your malevolence.

          • davidraynes
          • Simon Smith

            One study. Even if it were the case that cannabis negatively impacts IQ, it has never killed anybody. Probably the safest drug around. Eating too much cake or deep fried food can negatively impact your IQ; inasmuch as doing so will send you to an early grave and your IQ will be zero.

            Better not say that actually, next thing you’ll be trying to get Greggs shut down…

          • davidraynes

            Here is another unhelpful report. Unhelpful to your position. I can probably keep producing these until you give up through boredom:


          • Simon Smith

            Not unhelpful at all. Your lot have spent tens of millions desperately trying to find negative effects of cannabis. It is being legalized across the globe as a medicine and recreationally. For goodness sake man, have some decorum and give it up! You’ve lost!

          • davidraynes

            I doubt you can evidence my “lot” spending tens of millions desperately trying to find negative effects for cannabis. Whoever you think my “lot” are. The negative effects of cannabis are unchallenged now, even by strident legalisation lobbyists,. My “lot” won that debate. I do not get paid for what I do.

            On the other hand, I CAN demonstrate Soros and others spending millions of dollars to brainwash public and politicians about dugs legalisation, all drugs, not just cannabis.


          • Simon Smith

            Dugs? Rayne, you’re not a self-hating toker are you? Had a few too many whiteys?

            I cannot believe you spend so much of your precious time, especially as you’re getting on a bit, sowing all this misinformation and negativity, for nothing! It’d be bad enough if you were being paid for it, but instead you do all of this out of the wretchedness of your own heart. Insane.

          • Simon Smith

            You seem obsessed with George Soros. I know you’ve a lot of free time nowadays, but might want to lay off the David Icke videos.

          • davidraynes

            Check out .

            An astonishing list of activities.

          • malcolmkyle

            Everything you’re posting, including this one, is non-peer reviewed and extremely speculative. Here’s the real science:

            Study: Cannabis/Marijuana Use Not Predictive Of Lower IQ, Poorer Educational Performance

            “… to test the relationships between cumulative cannabis use and IQ at the age of 15 and educational performance at the age of 16. After full adjustment, those who had used cannabis more than 50 times did not differ from never-users on either IQ or educational performance. Adjusting for group differences in cigarette smoking dramatically attenuated the associations between cannabis use and both outcomes, and further analyses demonstrated robust associations between cigarette use and educational outcomes, even with cannabis users excluded. These findings suggest that adolescent cannabis use is not associated with IQ or educational performance once adjustment is made for potential confounds, in particular adolescent cigarette use.”

            Source: C Mokrysz, et al. Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, University College London. Published January 6, 2016 in Journal of Psychopharmacology.


          • davidraynes

            The Editor of the Journal of Psychopharmacology is Professor David Nutt.

            Professor Nutt is an enthusiastic proselytiser about drugs use. In a Daily Telegraph article he admitted his own use of illegal drugs. He got fired from his post advising the UK Government. He has been very closely associated with a woman who drilled a hole in her own skull. Nuff said?

            Now given there are around 25,000 scientific papers on cannabis, some of them of very dubious quality it is possible for you or me to find one to support any argument, yours or mine.

            Is legalisation going to happen in the UK -No.

            Has the ever productive legalisation lobbyist Malcom Kyle brought anything new to this debate recently? No.

            Is he worth listening to any more? No.

          • Simon Smith

            You. Are. Losing. Hell, you’ve already lost. Cannabis will be legal medicinally and recreationally and you will be able to take your sadism elsewhere.

            Those who think they are upholding ‘morals’ have always proven to be the most dangerous, the most murderous, the most genodical. Enough.

          • davidraynes

            My interest in drugs use is not driven by any idea of morality, it is driven by public health concerns.

            Sadly not everyones interest is so driven, drug users and those who are drug dependent, tend to be very selfish & antisocial people. They want their drugs, regardless of the consequences to others

          • Simon Smith

            David, you must stop with the doublespeak, although Uncle Joe would be proud. Meddling in the lives of millions and you have the gall to call people anti-social. What business is it of yours what other people do with their own bodies? Please answer that one question.

          • davidraynes

            The absolute freedom argument is used about drugs use.

            I never checked where you are based but in the Uk we have socialised medicine, we all pay for others addictions, Employers pay, Families pay, Co-Workers pay, Educators and those in education pay. Society pays for those unable to support themselves or who get mentally ill.

            In our complex society nobody is an island, so society makes rules and laws about most addictive substances and behaviours.

            Of course you are free to disagree with all societies making such rules. I point out that the International Drugs Agreements are some of the best kept, by the most countries, of all time. On top of them there is the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

            So it is not just me having an opinion that you are arguing against.

          • Simon Smith

            What do you suggest we do with all the drinkers, Dave? We’re paying for them too and, while I like a glass of ale, they’re costing us tens of billions. Would you have them executed? What about people who, have the damned cheek, to eat junk food? Off to Uncle Joe’s special summer camp?

          • Simon Smith

            Always detested the term ‘public health’. You worry about your own health chap, and leave people to look after their own. Human beings are sovereign, sentient beings, not the property of your beloved state. They dont need your ‘benevolence’ and ‘wisdom’ making decisions on their behalf.

          • Mike Williams

            Lol cannabis is backed by more scientific / case studies than most FDA regulated drugs in the US, you do know if paracetamol and aspirin where to be tested under modern mhra regulations then they would fail miserably due to their quite lethal side effects yeah? The only reason cannabis is illegal is due to racial and politically motivated dubious suspects of the past beginning when the Egyptian government of the time added it the the list of banned narcotics in the league of nations, in order to be able to demonise an opposition party who used the herb in sacred ceremonies? Then, Harry J Anslinger spouted all of his rubbish with his reefer madness, all of which can be easily refuted in today’s age with a bit of Googling peer reviewed studies…

          • malcolmkyle

            The Duke University (New Zealand) Dunedin study, the one which claimed that smoking cannabis/marijuana in your teens leads to a long-term drop in IQ, has been utterly rebuked by a later paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They examined the research and found its methodology to be flawed.

            “…existing research suggests an alternative confounding model based on time-varying effects of socioeconomic status on IQ. A simulation of the confounding model reproduces the reported associations from the [August 2012 study], suggesting that the causal effects estimated in Meier et al. are likely to be overestimates, and that the true effect could be zero”.
            —Ole Rogeberg.


            “No statistically significant differences were found between daily users and nonusers on volume or shape in the regions of interest. Effect sizes suggest that the failure to find differences was not due to a lack of statistical power, but rather was due to the lack of even a modest effect. In sum, the results indicate that, when carefully controlling for alcohol use, gender, age, and other variables, there is no association between marijuana use and standard volumetric or shape measurements of subcortical structures.”

            The Journal of Neuroscience, 28 January 2015, 35(4): 1505-1512; doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2946-14.2015

        • R Craven

          So what, the legalisation movement has to rely on racist perverts, don’t they Pete.

    • Simon Smith

      Jesus, this Rayne chap doesn’t hang about. Have you got nothing better to do with your time? Why are you trying to stop others from doing things you either don’t want or are too scared to do? Nobody is forcing you to smoke cannabis.

      Who made you overseer? Who appointed you as the UK’s moral arbiter on what plants people get to use? Cannabis was in use long before you cursed this planet and will be for many millennia after its rid of your sorry carcass. You think you’re more important than the tens of millions of people who have used this, over the last 10,000 years (if not longer).

      You attack this plant with a rabidness and fanaticism usually only observed with religious fruitcakes. I’ve no doubt you’d introduce stoning (no pun intended) for those who use the plant, if you could get away with it. Maybe hang the b-stards, using hemp rope.

      Why dont you get a life mate, and stop being such a miserable human being?

      The US is the dog that wags the tail; full legalisation in the UK is inevitable. Even if it after happens after you perish, you can be sure many a joint will be enjoyed, legally (with a cold beer, naturally) in your ‘honour’.

      It’s a good thing you have no actual power. It’s people like you that end up doing a Hitler or a Stalin – those driven to to a murderous, maniacal frenzy by their obsessive self-righteousness.

    • Gastroschisis is merely the latest incarnation of reefer madness from the increasingly desperate and discredited prohibition movement.

      The “epidemic” amounts to 1.66 (1.51 to 1.85) per 10 000 births in 1998.

      The facts are that the highest risk factor for gastroschisis (28%) is from cigarette smoking, then use of aspirin (20%) but all other factors including use of recreational drugs, gynaecological infection are at about 2%

      • davidraynes

        As you ought to know if you had done proper effective research
        the possible link between Cannabis and Gastroschisis is sufficiently important for NHS Wales to mention it:

        • malcolmkyle

          Mentioning something is not really science. Please give a proper response or admit you’re fighting a lost cause.

          • Simon Smith

            He knows he’s lost, he knew it years ago.

          • davidraynes

            Far from fighting a lost cause, in the Uk anyway, my side has won all the arguments since 2002 (I started my work in 2001.

            Since then, against the wishes of legalisation lobbyists we have achieved the following:

            1. The dismissal of Soros “Fifth Columnist” Mike Trace from his new job at the UN. (Trace was a former UK deputy drug Czar)

            2. The re-classification of Cannabis UPWARDS from Class C back to Class B in 2008/2009

            3. The removal of David Nutt from his post advising government

            4 New legislation on Khat (where i was an advisor on tactics to achieve this, to the Somalia Community) .

            5. New legislation on NPS, Novel Psychoactive Substances to imitate measures taken in Portugal.

            Lost causes? Malcolm you are the patron saint of a lost cause

          • Simon Smith

            That’s quite a rap sheet, Uncle Joe would be proud, Raynes.

    • Simon Smith

      “Both serious parties of government here, are agreed.

      You lost the debate.”

      You lost any grip you had on reality when you referred to these sacks of excrement as “serious parties of government”. Comrade Corbyn and The Maybot are anything but serious.

  • James Tripp

    The endocannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.

    Research on the endocannabinoid system..

    Suggested searches;

    Cannabis, Cancer, Apoptosis, Anti-angiogenesis

    Patent 6630507 filed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services related to the application of cannabinoids as neuroprotective agents.

    Delta-9 THC removes amyloid-beta protein plaque buildup from brain cell tissue in lab studies.

  • Shamus

    Shockingly written article by someone blatantly biased against cannabis. I could argue every point raised but the ‘what about the children’ sticks out. Surely ease of access for children is condemnation of the current failing system of prohibition. The majority of us can see legalisation with strict proof of age is the way forward. And there is no proof whatsoever that cannabis causes any mental illness at all. Correlation does not mean causation. It is accepted that many mental illness sufferers are drawn to cannabis as self medication. That is why cannabis is effective for treating ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, migraines, alcohol induced neurotoxicity, MS, PTSD, stress, depression and GW Pharmaceuticals is marketing a cannabis schizophrenia treatment.

    • davidraynes

      Legalisation is just not going to happen in the UK Shamus.

      As for your bizarre claim that cannabis causes no mental illness at all I suggest you improve your Googling skills in Google Scholar. There is so much research about cannabis and bad effects on the brain that it beggars belief that you should write what you write.

      I suggest you are closing your eyes to the obvious. Even the most active legalisation lobbyists in the Uk (Peter Reynolds struggling on this page is one) no longer claim that cannabis is entirely safe. The debate has moved on, the question now is what to do about it. The other question is are the teratogenic effects as serious as the warnings on Sativex indicate they may be?

      Yes we COULD legalise and normalise consumption. That would doubtless increase use, increase total harm, increase dependency and increase health damage & hospital admissions Or, we could accept that our present mechanism where cannabis is slowly becoming less popular, is working better than most countries.

      A containment policy would doubtless work better, if the big money (Soros) and the pot users (Like Reynolds) stopped pushing the idea that legalisation/normalisation of this damaging substance is a sensible policy.

      • Simon Smith

        Wrong, Mr Raynes. It will happen. It will become a custom that at 4.20pm on your birthday, thousands; perhaps millions, will light up, specifically in your honour. Hundreds of millions of milligrams of delta-9 rushing around bodies, exciting cannabinoid receptors. And your life’s work will all have been in vain.

        • davidraynes

          Very good .
          Made me laugh.

          • Simon Smith

            Maybe now you’ve cheered up a bit you might reflect on your behaviour, encouraging the destruction of people’s lives.

          • davidraynes
          • Simon Smith

            Already aware of the very small risks, if abused. Cigarettes cause psychosis too. Oxygen can be carcinogenic. Shall we ban that as well?

          • R Craven

            Certainly, why not?

          • malcolmkyle

            I prefer real peer-reviewed science

            RESULTS: Overall 34,000 (41%) cohort members reported cannabis use, 47,092 (57%) reported tobacco use, 22,500 (27%) reported using both, and 23,467 (29%) used neither. Men were followed over an 11-year period and 279 (0.3%) developed incident bladder tumors. Among cannabis users, 89 (0.3%) developed bladder cancer in comparison to 190 (0.4%) men who did not report cannabis use (P < .001). After adjusting for age, race or ethnicity, and body mass index, using tobacco only was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer (hazard regression [HR], 1.52; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12-2.07), whereas cannabis use only was associated with a 45% reduction in bladder cancer incidence (HR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.31-1.00). Using both cannabis and tobacco was associated with an HR of 1.28 (95% CI, 0.91-1.80).

            CONCLUSION: Although a cause and effect relationship has not been established, cannabis use may be inversely associated with bladder cancer risk in this population.


      • malcolmkyle

        Health concerns regarding marijuana tend to come from a self-fueling group of discredited scientists funded by the pharmaceutical, prison, tobacco, and alcohol industries, pushing non-peer-reviewed papers while relying upon reports issued by others in their own group to further support their own grossly misleading research and clearly biased agendas.

        According to “Epidemiology of Schizophrenia” on Wikipedia, most countries with high cannabis use have some of the lowest rates of schizophrenia. The Netherlands are 173rd, Canada 177th, USA 181st, UK 185th, Iceland 191st and Australia last 192nd (Iceland is said to have the highest rate of marijuana/cannabis use in the world). The country with the lowest rate of marijuana/cannabis use in the world, Singapore, is said to have the 7th highest rate of schizophrenia.

        A Harvard University study, published Dec 4th, 2013 in the journal Schizophrenia Research, adds support to the role of genetic factors in schizophrenia, and states that cannabis/marijuana use alone does not increase the risk of developing the disorder. The latest findings provide enough evidence for Dr. DeLisi and her team to conclude that “Cannabis is unlikely to be the cause of this illness.”

        Source: PII: S0920-9964(13)00610-5 doi:10.1016/j.schres.2013.11.014 —Published by Elsevier Inc.

        Association is not Causation:

        Schizophrenia affects approximately one percent of the population. That percentage has held steady since the disease was identified, while the percentage of people who have smoked marijuana has varied from about 5% to around 40% of the general population.

        Despite a massive increase in the number of Australians consuming the drug since the 1960s, Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland found no increase in the number of cases of schizophrenia in Australia. Mitch Earleywine of the University of Southern California similarly found the same with regard to the US population and Oxford’s Leslie Iversen found the same regard to the population in the UK. According to Dr. Alan Brown, a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University, “If anything, the studies seem to show a possible decline in schizophrenia from the ’40s and the ‘50s”.

        Kindly Google any of the following combinations:

        Nicotine and Schizophrenia
        Alcohol and Schizophrenia
        Chocolate and Schizophrenia
        Sugar and Schizophrenia
        Gluten and Schizophrenia

        Should we hand the market in any of the above substances to criminals (which is what prohibition effectively does) because its use is “associated” with a certain minute part of the population?

        • Simon Smith

          Clear and concise.

          Rayne will probably need a lie down after reading this.

        • davidraynes

          You were a bit slow of the mark today.

          Firstly quoting Wikipedia especially in the Cannabis debate is ridiculous. The Wikipedia Cannabis pages and ” Cannabis Project” are rigged as you ought to know if you were as assiduous with your research as you are with your regular fanatical pro Cannabis postings around the world.

          Secondly, the debate here is about the UK.
          Legalisation in the UK is not going to happen, the battle is over, my side won.

          The question is not any longer about relative harms of cannabis, we won that debate too, we even had Cannabis reclassified upwards under the Uk legislation with most MPs and the two main political parties supporting it.

          Nearly two years ago we had a Parliamentary debate about legalisation after public petition, only around 14 MPs turned up, of those, at least 4 were against legalisation. (Out of a total of 650MPs)

          So the idea is dead, kaput, finished, it has gone to meet its maker. Not going to happen.

          As for “handing the market to criminals”, that is a tired mantra, also effectively beaten.

          The market is relatively small compared to the legal drugs, sensible people know there is no point in making that market bigger with all the personal and social harms that would follow.

          Legalisation does not solve criminal involvement, it just gives more opportunity for criminal profits, taxation adds to the opportunity.

          Criminality LOVES “use-reinforcing behaviours and substances”, that is why it has traditionally been
          involved with legal and illegal drugs, with the sex industry, with pornography, with betting.

          We COULD legalise absolutely all of these things, including child pornography, heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis. Would that stop criminality exploiting the things for gain? Of course not.

          You do really need to improve your debating position and argument. Your arguments are tired.

          If legalisation/normalisation of anything currently illegal is to be seriously considered and the arguments of legalisation fanatics taken seriously, the argument HAS to be about an overall “Public good” that would arise.

          Lobbyists for drugs legalisation fail to make that “public good” evident in your positions. Your arguments are tedious and repetitive, they miss the point.

          • malcolmkyle

            I posted peer-reviewed science and you chose to ignore it. Here’s some more real data for you to ignore:

            “After Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis sale and use, opioid-related deaths decreased more than six percent in the following two years,” according to Melvin D. Livingston, Tracey E. Barnett, Chris Delcher and Alexander C. Wagenaar, the co-authors of the research.

            The data discovered that the 6.5 percent reduction represented “a reversal of” a 14-year increasing trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado since 2000. The researchers, however, were quick to point out that the findings were preliminary. “As additional data become available, research should replicate these analyses in other states with legal recreational cannabis,” the report said.


          • Simon Smith

            Lumping cannabis in with child pornography is obscene, Raynes, even by your low standards.

          • Barkfin

            Let me apologize on behalf of David Raynes. Of course child pornography is nothing whatsoever in the same league as consumption of cannabis. I’m sure he mentioned that regrettable comparison in the sense of “here are a bunch of activities that are all simultaneously prohibited in law”. He could have just as easily mentioned exceeding the time on a parking meter, or jay walking on a vacant street. This is how I prefer to interpret his comment.

      • Czechster

        Look do your research. Israel has used cannabis for the last thirty years. They are consultants on growing and harvesting cannabis. Now tell me that Israel is hell bent on killing or hurting their citizens. More Fake News.

      • Mike Williams

        Shamus is in fact correct, there has been a correlation between cannabis and those with mental health, much in the same way as there is a correlation between diabetes and insulin or high blood pressure and statins, but correlation does not equal causation, there was even a government commissioned study in 2007 by Keele University into the supposed link between schizophrenia and psychosis, which the results indicated the exact opposite, with either stable or declining rates of both in the cannabis using community (when compared to the national average), this study looked at around 5000 patients over the space of 15 odd years, prior to and since the increase in what the main stream media have demonised as “skunk weed” lol rates of thc have actually remained fairly consistent since the 1970’s with a slight increase in the past 5 or so years… the only and I repeat only harm associated with cannabis is the method of inhalation, if combusted (burnt) as in a joint then, there are known carcinogens involved, but with dabbing or vaporisation or through consuming medicated edibles, then there are zero, absolutely zero harms that we know of so far, in fact it is known to be a neuroprotectant, unlike alcohol it builds and repairs brain cells, and is present in every single one of us, through our endocannabinoid systems. Try Googling it 😉

        • davidraynes

          I prefer to rely on Professor Sir Robin Murray:

          He does not have a dog in the race, he is just a proper scientist with a deep understanding of schizophrenia.
          He does not proselytize about drug legalisation nor am I aware of him being an illegal drugs user himself.

          Note his spat with Professor Nutt,

          Nutt does advocate drug liberalisation, in fact for what one would imagine is a busy scientist he puts an astonishing amount of personal effort into it, even to the point of making a fool of himself over it, some would say. I do say that. I have debated with him, he handles himself very badly when challenged. More than that Nutt confessed, in a Telegraph interview to using illegal drugs himself. He seems to crusade, never a good characteristic if a scientist wants to be taken seriously

          It is all beside the point. Cannabis is not going to be legalised in the Uk, that 20 year battle is over.

          • Simon Smith

            Jesus he’s still at it.

      • R Craven

        Good post. Also, a swift google of “Peter Reynolds Watch” will reveal what a total creep Reynolds is.

    • R Craven

      “Shockingly written article by someone blatantly biased against cannabis”

      Shockingly ignorant response by someone blatantly biased in favour of cannabis, who also blatantly didn’t read the article.

      “And there is no proof whatsoever that cannabis causes any mental illness at all.”

      Talk to just about any consultant psychiatrist. They’ll put you right.

  • LongTermRecovery

    Here’s the reality vs hypothetical claims…
    Poisoning of children by accidental marijuana ingestion is rising in the US, particularly where the drug is legal, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics – read it at
    The Rocky Mountain HIDTA Strategic Intelligence Unit released 176 pages of research on the latest statistics in Colorado since it legalised marijuana: marijuana-related traffic deaths more than doubled, Colorado youth and adults each ranked #1 in the US for past-month marijuana use – it’s 55% higher than the US average for youth and 124% higher for adults, marijuana-related emergency department visits rose 35%, seizures of Colorado marijuana to other states in the US mail soared 914%… Read the statistics at

    • Rocky Mountain High is a notorious propaganda and disinformation organisation which wilfully misleads and distorts data.

      Its claims are directly contradicted by the Colorado state government’s own data and conclusions. Indeed, John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado said recently that legalisation was “beginning to look like it might work.” and that “legal weed was not as vexing as we thought it was going to be.”

    • malcolmkyle

      Between 2006 and July 2013, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment tested for THC in the blood of drivers involved in fatal car accidents in Colorado. If the driver had a THC level of 2 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) or higher, the death was classified as “marijuana related”.

      In 2012, there were 78 such deaths. Between January and July 2013, DPH counted 71 such deaths and then discontinued testing.

      THC remains in the bloodstream at those low concentrations for days or weeks after the effects of marijuana have completely worn off.

      RMHIDTA resumed the testing in 2014, but dropped the threshold for what it counted as “marijuana related” by half — from 2 ng/ml to just 1 ng/ml. Unsurprisingly, the number of “positive” tests jumped up to 94.

      While 94 is, in fact, a number that is 32 percent higher than 71, the report does not actually show an increase in drugged driving deaths – the report manipulated both the numbers and the public by comparing 71 of one thing (drivers tested at 2ng/ml over just seven months in one year) with 94 of a completely different thing (drivers tested at 1ng/ml over the full 12 months in another year).


  • I’m very disappointed by this much-hyped report. It offers nothing new, either in information or in proposed solutions. It takes us no further on from Transform’s work in 2009 or CLEAR’s proposals from 2011.

    Our politicians fail to act, despite the solution being obvious for more than 10 years. Ministers are completely disinterested in effective drugs policy. The truth about their attitudes to drugs policy is best illustrated by the Psychoactive Substances Act. This disastrous legislation is regarded as a success because it has taken the sale of NPS off the high street and driven it underground. This is all that ministers care about. They have been seen to do something and these drugs are no longer so obviously available. They really don’t give a damn that use has increased, harms have multiplied and deaths are becoming increasingly common.

    However, where this report actually takes us backwards is its pandering to renewed reefer madness and vast exaggeration of the harms of cannabis.

    Correct, cannabis can be harmful to a tiny minority of consumers. All the speculative studies from Robin Murray and his team, all the scaremongering hyperbole in what is laughably presented as ‘scientific’ evidence, all the esoteric, statistical tricks that create alarming headlines – none of these can change the hard facts of how infinitesimal is the number of people whose health is genuinely impaired by cannabis.

    It’s ‘young people’ that all the concern is about but in the last five years there has been an average of just 28 cases per year of cannabis-induced psychosis – a tragedy for the individuals but a problem that is irrelevant in public health terms:

    For GP and community health treatment, Public Health England’s own data shows that 89% of those in treatment are coerced into it, only in 11% of cases does the patient themselves or their families believe they need it: See table 2.4.1

    I welcome any new entrant to the drugs policy reform movement. We need all the help we can get but all Volteface has done since its inception is repeat the work already done by other groups. Now it is pursuing the same flawed and misguided route as Transform – that cannabis needs to be regulated because it is dangerous. It isn’t. The reason that cannabis needs to regulated is because prohibition is dangerous. It causes far more harm than cannabis ever has or ever could.

    Note that this mythical ‘mental health crisis’ only seems to exist in the UK. It doesn’t exist in the rest of Europe, the USA, Israel or other jurisdictions where cannabis is legally regulated. Note also that former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders is published in the November edition of the American Journal of Public Health saying “The unjust prohibition of marijuana has done more damage to public health than has marijuana itself.”

    The one valuable contribution Volteface has made to cannabis law reform is the money it has spent on professional media relations. This has elevated the subject up the news agenda and that is a very good thing indeed. Everyone, cannabis consumers and those who don’t have the slightest interest, will benefit from legalisation. The sooner we get on with it the better.

    • davidraynes

      Peter I actually agree with your first paragraph. Steve Rolles at Transform is much more articulate and a better writer than this half baked stuff. These “reports” regularly come out, repeating what has been said before, in slightly different phrases.

      I and colleagues then proceed to knock the ball all over the pitch, the government of whatever complexion, fails to take the reports seriously, life moves on.

      What gets me are the crocodile tears about children using and getting access to cannabis. “regulated markets” create more access, not less and age restricted markets create a “grown up” behaviour to be imitated by the most vulnerable young teenagers.

      • Simon Smith

        All teenagers are vulnerable, when a drug pusher can sell them anything, which may be adulterated and has not been monitored or assessed for safety. It’s easier for kids to get hold of all drugs than it is fags or booze. This is obvious, David.

      • malcolmkyle

        The assertion that drug legalisation/regulation would bring higher usage rates blatantly ignores what has occurred since the early 1970s. The percentage of Americans who have used an illegal drug has gone from less than 5% to about 40%. The cost of one dose of street heroin has gone from $6 to 80 cents while average purity has also increased. The only drug that has decreased in use during this time is tobacco, which has plummeted from about 65% during World War II to about 20% today. Tobacco, one of the most addictive substances known to man, has never been illegal but many Americans have quit using it for personal reasons that clearly have not been influenced by it’s legal availability. They will decide whether or not to use other drugs for the same reasons.

        Prohibition continues unabated for shameful political reasons. It cannot, and never will, reduce drug use or addiction.

    • R Craven
  • Pamela Mccoll

    here you go folks – The Government of Canada’s healthwatch dog Health Canada tells all consumers of marijuana for medical purposes ( which was approved through a court order and not by the insistence of the medical profession that Canadian have access to experimental marijuana without the evidence of science of efficacy – yes folks there are corrupt judges, and lobbyists who make these things happen and a ton of Soros money is all over the pro on drug movement) the government tells Canadians not to use marijuana if you are a man who wants to have/produce children. Why the warnings – because of the risk of testicular cancer, dna damage, chromosomal shattering, dna damage, sperm morphology and sterlity risks – women to not use if they are pregnant and trying to get pregnant ( science shows the most damage is at 2 weeks of conception to the baby’s brain) so there you go all the reason to not legalize this drug, add to that the contraindications for use if you are driving within 8 hours of using, under the age of 25, have a substance abuse disorder, or a heart condition, or at risk for addicition, suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, live with chlldren who you would prefer not to kill with your second or third hand smoke exhaust – seriously yes 28% of those that die from second hand smoke exposure are children – many of whom are infants. So legalize pot and send your country into the gutter and bankrupt your healthcare system and see your car insurance rates soar.
    Say no to marijuana, say no to legalization of marijuana for any purpose and get us all back to the age of modern evidenced medicine and return us to an age where the minority ( those who use marijuana ) do not rule the day and call the shots.

    • Simon Smith

      Yes, say no to marijuana if it’s not for you. But don’t try to interfere with the life choices of others. You have no right to impugn the sovereignty of adults, and interfere in how they choose to live their lives.

      Go do something with yours and butt out, instead of befouling the place with your fear mongering.

    • girasolrestaurante

      suppose you’re very pro abortion ??

    • Simon Smith

      For heaven’s sake, have you been smoking something. Rambling, paranoid nonsense, masquerading as profound wisdom and scientific fact. Hysterical.

      I think you need to stay off the Internet, perhaps go sit down in a quiet room and calm down a bit.

  • malcolmkyle

    The 9% figure has been quoted for over a decade, but was never substantiated in a scientific manner. Less than .05% of people in drug counseling groups for marijuana are there voluntarily.

    An ever-growing body of scientific research clearly demonstrates that Cannabis/Marijuana is less addictive than a cup of tea.

    Dr. Jack E. Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco ranked six psychoactive substances on five criteria.

    Withdrawal — The severity of withdrawal symptoms produced by stopping the use of the drug.

    Reinforcement — The drug’s tendency to induce users to take it again and again.

    Tolerance — The user’s need to have ever-increasing doses to get the same effect.

    Dependence — The difficulty in quitting, or staying off the drug, the number of users who eventually become dependent

    Intoxication — The degree of intoxication produced by the drug in typical use.

    The tables listed below show the rankings given for each of the drugs. Overall, their evaluations for the drugs are very consistent. It is notable that marijuana ranks below caffeine in most addictive criteria, while alcohol and tobacco are near the top of the scale in many areas.

    The rating scale is from 1 to 6 — 1 denotes the drug with the strongest addictive tendencies, while 6 denotes the drug with the least addictive tendencies.


    Withdrawal Reinforcement Tolerance Dependence Intoxication

    Nicotine 3 4 2 1 5

    Heroin 2 2 1 2 2

    Cocaine 4 1 4 3 3

    Alcohol 1 3 3 4 1

    Caffeine 5 6 5 5 6

    Marijuana 6 5 6 6 4


    Withdrawal Reinforcement Tolerance Dependence Intoxication

    Nicotine 3 4 4 1 6

    Heroin 2 2 2 2 2

    Cocaine 3 1 1 3 3

    Alcohol 1 3 4 4 1

    Caffeine 4 5 3 5 5

    Marijuana 5 6 5 6 4

  • malcolmkyle

    The discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the single most important scientific medical discovery since the recognition of sterile surgical technique. As our knowledge expands, we are coming to realize that the ECS is a master control system of virtually all physiology. The total effect of the ECS is to regulate homeostasis and prevent disease and aging. The more we learn, the more we realize that we are in the infancy of this scientific field of study. The ECS is a control system which involves tissue receptor proteins, cellular communication and control, molecular anatomy and the scavenging of oxygen free radicals. This new field of science will change medicine forever and prove cannabis the gold standard for many disease processes. Its effect on scavenging oxygen free radicals is applicable to all disease processes and this is why it has such wide medical application and is considered a cure-all by many.

    The discovery of the ECS will replace the current medical system of managing and treating disease. Instead of management of symptoms after disease has occurred, we will prevent disease and cancer by manipulation of the ECS.

    Research and education of medical students involving the ECS is being intentionally restricted by politics. No justification can be made for the restriction of the scientific study of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. What is the danger of providing government-grown and tested cannabis to researchers? Diversion of research cannabis for non-scientific or recreational purposes does not seem to be a serious threat to national security.

    By Dr David Allen

  • Simon Smith

    Apparently it only takes one cannabis injection to cause sudden death dying. You could even get addictioned. The foul weed has even been known to make people’s heads explode, from just one bong hit.

    A pear-reviewed study also demonstrated that a single drag of evil foreign hashish can cause a person’s face to combust in flames. Not to mention the ‘hot rocks’, as weed fiends call them, which often fall from hashish ‘spliffs’, which have been known to burn straight through the floor of student residences across the country, causing tens of pounds in damage.

    We must keep this deadly drug illegal. It should be re-classified as a Class AAA* drug – in it’s own specially-created category – in recognition of the unique harmfulness of this evil plant.

  • MikeParent

    That’s some fine propaganda! Alcohol comes in strengths from 3.2% to 95% alcohol People just use less of the more potent version.

    As for addictiveness, Marijuana is less addictive and less harmful than Caffeine, let alone Alcohol And Tobacco; (3 Scientific Studies)
    BTW, Dr Henningfield is a former NIDA Staffer;.
    Addictiveness of Marijuana- ProCon.Org

  • Pamela Mccoll

    what those who purport that the individual pot user has a sovereign right to do what ever they wish fails to calcualte is the damage they inflict on others by making this choice, be it through accidents, fires, second hand and third hand smoke, dna damage to their offspring, or just harming those they love by turning away from health and becoming addicted, or sick themselves. We live in a shared society, we have a shared social contract and this is called civilization. No one lives in their own little nutshell – immune from the actions and consequences of an individuals drug use – be it driving down the roadway and coming upon a stoned driver, waiting in an emergency room while others are treated and ( state paid for ) medical attention is given to others with psychotric breaks from marijuana overdoses ( one hospital in Washington State admits 2 people every single day for marijuana “greening out” ). The impact of higher drop out rates and expulsions from schools in Colorado impacts society, famiiles and loved ones, it impacts the young. So yes the non-user has a say, the non-user paying for social welfare through taxes and medical services has a say, and the adult protecting those most vulnerable has a say – it is called civilization and it is called social democracy – we all care and look out for one another – and that includes protecting our society’s from the use of psychotropic substances.

    • One assumes this surrendering of our personal autonomy to the state should also apply to sloth and obesity and other personal health choices, and we should care and look out for one another by criminalizing the overweight and prohibiting junk food.

    • Simon Smith

      Tell you what, why dont you just care and look out for yourself and your own health. Nobody appointed you the UK’s health tsar.

  • Pamela Mccoll

    How many people do you know who have died from second hand smoke exposure after being next to a person who was eating junk food or drinking a glass of beer ?

    • Second hand smoke was just one of the external harms you identified to justify cannabis prohibition. In terms of public health problems and social costs, sloth and obesity are far more significant problems than cannabis use.

      Cannabis can also be ingested and vaporized and these methods of ingestion become more popular when cannabis is legally regulated. In the case of tobacco, we have by-laws limiting where smokers may partake.

      Given our success with tobacco, would it not make more sense to take a similar approach to cannabis?

    • Simon Smith

      Plenty of people have been killed by drunk drivers. Plenty of innocent people have been attacked by drunks. You didn’t think this one through, did you?

      • Pamela Mccoll

        you missed the point and deflecting off the point of discussion would loose you the point if this was an official debate – can’t handle the truth that marijuana smoke kills – face reality it does.

        • You argued that cannabis possession is not a victimless crime, for among other reasons, second-hand smoke is unhealthy. Following your logic, we should prohibit anything that one might do that might adversely affect an innocent bystander, such as driving a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

          I look forward to you sharing the evidence that second-hand cannabis smoke has killed someone. If you can not, then you lose a point for making stuff up.

  • Czechster

    More FAKE NEWS supported and financed by the Pharmaceutical Corporations. This is written by Transactional Journalist who are hired guns to prostitute their journalist skills for the purpose of miss information. Reefer Madness Inc. is still alive and well after eighty years.

  • Barkfin

    Personally I have no idea where to get Cannabis from, I actually don’t even know what it looks like.
    I’ve met a few people who regularly use Cannabis. Some seem to have no ill effect, whereas others it seems obvious they have suffered profound ill effect.
    On the other hand, I also know people who have never used Cannabis, and they still seem to be going nowhere in their lives. So it’s not so crystal-clear “using this substance has caused this negative effect”. Anecdotally, I have personally observed exceptions.
    Let me be clear what my personal complaint is about Cannabis, it’s that it is (to me) an exceptionally foul and offensive substance. I don’t want to be anywhere near it. It boggles my mind that somebody would deliberately concentrate and inhale this stuff, well, I guess there are crazy people everywhere. People smoke tobacco, after all. Others do other acts I find nonsensical, such as they will deliberately jump into the arctic ocean, or run a marathon, or build an 8′ tall model Eiffel tower. Nuts!
    There is a trend toward an edible form of the substance but without the odor. I think I could live with people consuming that. Unfortunately I live in Canada where legalization is looming, it is not at all something I am looking forward to.
    My main hope is that people can stay off the road while intoxicated.
    Self-driving automobile technology cannot come fast enough…