From: http://www.ccguide.org

Source: Candis Magazine, UK

Pub date: October 2001

Subj: You the Jury: Should cannabis be legalised? Vote.

Web site: http://www.candis.co.uk

Contact: letters@candis.co.uk

National Drug Prevention Alliance http://www.drugprevent.org.uk

YOU THE JURY. SHOULD CANNABIS BE LEGALISED? VOTE.

If you agree with ALUN and think cannabis should be legalised, vote YES by dialling 0901 880 8881 or logging on to wwww.candis.co.uk

If you agree with PETER and think cannabis should remain blacklisted, vote NO by dialling 0901 880 8882 or logging on to www.candis.co.uk

Closing date for voting is 5 Nov 2001.

All parents fear their children ending up on drugs and there is no doubt that 'hard' drugs are a real problem in modern society. But does cannabis count? Is it really no worse than having a drink? Or is it at the top end of a slippery slope?

Should cannabis be legalised?

YES

"Its illegal status means we're missing out on a cheap and effective potential medicine"

Alun Buffry is the nominating officer of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, which is a registered political party and is campaigns to legalise cannabis and to support parliamentary candidates who regard this issue as a high priority. He stood in Norwich South in this year's general election and received 620 votes.

If you would like more information on the party's work, contact the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, PO Box 198, Norwich, NR2 2DH; tel 01603 442215; e-mail lca@lca-uk.org or visit www.lca-uk.org.

THE FACT that cannabis is illegal is ridiculous. It's much safer than many legal drugs such as coffee, alcohol and tobacco and it doesn't cause aggression in the way that alcohol does. There is no evidence that it causes physical dependency, although some people have a psychological addiction - but the same could be said about watching Eastenders or eating bacon every morning. In fact, US research which measured the addictiveness and toxicity of drugs put tobacco and heroin at the top, then alcohol and cocaine. Cannabis was at the bottom - non-toxic and virtually free of addictiveness.

But most importantly, cannabis' illegal status restricts research into its benefits, which means we're missing out on a cheap and effective medicine for a wide range of illnesses -such as MS - as well as a possible source of environmentally friendly cheap fuel, paper and plastics.

People think legalisation will mean a proliferation of pot-smoking, unemployed revolutionaries. But users come from all walks of life - lawyers, bank managers, doctors.

Society would demand a legal age limit for smoking cannabis, so 16-18 might be acceptable, although parental discretion would be better. However, it would be unfair to have a law against driving under the influence of cannabis, as it can be detected up to 90 days later. In fact, tests show that, if anything, cannabis makes people drive more slowly.

The law should focus on protection, not punishment. Currently the greatest danger to public health is that cannabis sold on our streets contains everything from boot polish to barbiturates. If it was legalised, the quality could be controlled.

NO

"There are five million cannabis users. Research shows one in four progresses on to hard drugs."

Peter Stoker is the Director of the National drug Prevention Alliance which aims to improve both the quality and quantity of drug prevention measures in the interests of society overall. He has 19 years experience of working with drug users as well as in prevention of drugs abuse.

For more information contact the National Drug Prevention Alliance, PO Box 594, Slough, SL1 1AA; tel: 01753 677917; e-mail ndpa@drugprevent.org.uk; or visit www.drugprevent.org.uk

EVERYWHERE the drug laws have been relaxed, things have become worse - not better. In Holland, for example, use has at least doubled and juvenile crime has increased.

People who argue that alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than cannabis are ignoring the time scale. They've been legal for hundreds or years, so we're stuck with them and can only encourage people to use them less. Having two harmful substances in our society is no logical basis upon which to introduce a third.

Pro-legalisers deliberately play up cannabis's medical properties because that's their best leverage for making cannabis acceptable to society. If it is proved to be a viable medicine through normal testing procedures, then there's no reason not to use it, but the two issues - medical and recreational - shouldn't be mingled.

Although cannabis is no more likely than any other psychoactive drug to seduce people into using harder drugs, the more people dabble with any drug, the more likely they are to experiment further. If the pro-drug lobby is to be believed, there are five million cannabis users. Research shows one in four progresses on to hard drugs, which is a lot of people.

People focus on the physiological effects of cannabis such as cancer and immune system damage, which generally only effect the user. But little is said about the impact on people surrounding the user and on society generally. If one million cannabis users earn, say, 10 an hour and miss one hour's work a year because they are stoned, that 10 million lost. Then there are the people operating machinery who crash forklift trucks through buildings when they are high, and drivers in train crashes who test positive. There are also many other negative effects on families and relationships