Submitted by the Criminal Justice Association
1. The legalise cannabis lobby is currently
enjoying a staggering success in spite of the overwhelming evidence
that it causes physical and psychological problems and users are
responsible for a huge percentage of crime. Misleading propaganda
is being employed by those who want the use of cannabis legalised.
Peter Lilley MP is an example of the dangerously ill-informed.
He wants to replicate the Dutch experiment of having licensed
premises to sell cannabis, as he argues that it will separate
soft drug users from dealers in heavier drugs. The reality is
that dealers in hard drugs concentrate their evil trade around
the Dutch legal outlets for cannabis knowing that such users are
vulnerable to being persuaded to try hard drugs; many licensed
coffee shops have been closed for dealing in hard drugs. The Dutch
experiment has resulted in doubling the use of cannabis and the
use of cocaine and ecstasy by 15-16 year olds in Holland is the
highest in Europe; also there has been an explosion of drug-related
crime. Such evidence supports the claim that cannabis can be the
gateway to harder drugs.
2. Lord Mancroft, Chairman of the Drug and
Alcohol Foundation, says that the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 should
be reformed because it is substantially ineffective. Even more
ineffective is the Theft Act 1968 but there is no suggestion that
stealing be decriminalised. Lord Mancroft also says that the drug
problem is a health issue and can not be dealt with through the
criminal justice system; drug addiction is self-afflicted and
could be substantially controlled if the law was vigorously enforced.
3. Research in New Zealand shows that if
someone smokes just one cannabis joint a week he is sixty times
more likely to get involved with harder drugs. It also reveals
that young men who take cannabis are five times more likely to
be violent than those who don't. Another New Zealand finding shows
that one in four cannabis users goes on to heroin or cocaine.
There are about 15,000 accredited research papers from around
the world testifying to the harmfulness of cannabis and evaluated
by the World Health Organisation 1997, "Cannabis: a health
perspective and research agenda".
4. In 1975 Alaska decriminalised the use
of cannabis in the home and other private places. Eventually,
after a two year period in which 2,066 Alaskans were admitted
to state-funded treatment programmes with cannabis as their prime
substance of abuse; the experiment ended with a referendum in
1990. In 1987 Switzerland designated a park in Zurich as an experimental
"police free harm reduction area". Crime rose by 30
per cent; Switzerland achieved the highest rate of drug abuse
in Europe and 50 per cent of Zurich addicts tested positive for
AIDS even though up to 12,000 new needles were distributed daily.
In 1992 the experiment ended; bulldozers were needed to clear
the tons of human excrement, needles and other detritus before
the park could be used again by the general public. In Queensland,
Australia, the use of cannabis was decriminalised in 1987; after
three years amongst 20-39 year olds there was a three-fold increase
in its use compared to the rest of Australia. Brisbane, Queensland's
capital, is considered the drugs centre of Australia. In contrast,
Japan has one of the lowest drug-related crime rates of any industrial
nation due to severe anti-drug laws.
5. In Sweden where a mere nine per cent
has tried drugs compared with our 34 per cent, drug use is kept
low through tough enforcement and prevention policies. In the
1960s Sweden decriminalised amphetamines and produced an increase
in their use to epidemic proportions. It has since reverted to
its tough approach. It does not just enforce fines for possession
and prison for large scales possession and supply, it has criminalised
drug use itself. The police test the blood and urine of suspected
users and if they come up positive they can be fined. If teachers
suspect that pupils have taken drugs, they can call in the police
and social workers. In the USA 1979-91 the "Just Say No"
Campaign actually brought about a steep decline in drug useagain
because everyone was pulling in the same direction. Use of cannabis
halved as did cocaine use; daily use of cannabis fell by 75 per
6. In Britain the National Treatment Outcome
and Research Study Report 1996 estimated that 664 drug and alcohol
abusers committed 70,000 crimes in a three month period. Recent
research shows that one in five road deaths are linked with drugs,
two thirds of them cannabis users. Cannabis renders a person unfit
to drive for at least 24 hours after a joint.
7. About 40 per cent of under sixteens appear
to have used cannabis at some time. If a young person smokes cannabis
only once a month, neurotransmitters in the brain cells can be
affected impairing memory and learning processes. Apart from cannabis
being physically and psychologically addictive, the heart rate
increases as does the blood pressure; lungs can be damaged and
there is strong suggestive evidence from animal experiments and
human brain scans that brain cells die; brain cells are never
replaced. Endocrine systems can be impaired and immune systems
suppressed; menstrual cycles can be disrupted and there can be
a decrease in the sperm count. Furthermore it can lead to paranoid
psychosis and can precipitate schizophrenia; it carries a greater
risk of causing cancer than does tobacco smoking.
8. Drug addiction is a voluntary condition;
drug dealing is a depraved and cynical trade with a total disregard
for the consequences of those who become addicted. It is a tragedy
for victims as well as their families. The financial implications
for the National Health Service are incalculable.
9. The evidence that the use of cannabis
should not be legalised is overwhelming but conveniently ignored
by the legalise cannabis lobby. Further debate is unnecessary;
the facts speak for themselves.
10. The way forward is to follow the successful
policies adopted by Sweden. They must be supported by the application
of strict zero-tolerance laws making the sale, possession and
use of cannabis criminal offences. Judges and magistrates must
be required to apply the law strictly. Chief constables must be
denied the power to turn a "blind-eye" to drug offences.