Confused About Cannabis? You Bet

  Confused About Cannabis? You Bet

Posted by CN Staff on January 08, 2006 at 19:52:58 PT
By Philip Johnston 
Source: Daily Telegraph UK 

United Kingdom -- A headline on the health pages of this newspaper last week probably summed up the views of many about drugs. "Confused about cannabis?" it read.Well, I am, for one. It is possible to take a fundamentalist position and say smoking a joint is morally wrong. But why is it any more so than smoking a cigarette?
Cannabis is illegal, of course, but what is it about the hemp plant that makes the inhalation of its fumes intrinsically more unacceptable than those of the tobacco plant?Smoking a spliff may lead to mental health disorders; but smoking tobacco causes lung cancer and a host of other ailments. Which is worse?Yet many of those who would defend to the last an individual's right to smoke tobacco are often appalled by cannabis, possibly because they associate the latter with a louche culture.This question of relative harms is one of many perplexing conundrums in the debate about drugs. The Government is currently agonising over whether to put cannabis back in class B under an index set out in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1970.Will this make any difference? Do users consult the categories before lighting up? True, the category in which a drug is placed makes a difference to the penalty for dealing and possession.But one of the purposes of downgrading cannabis to class C two years ago was that the Government felt it should take up less police time and wanted to make possession a non-arrestable offence.But after a furore over the liberalisation, David Blunkett, then the home secretary, mystifyingly decided to make possession of class C substances an arrestable offence as well, thereby defeating the point of the exercise.Recently, another law has made all offences arrestable, so we are back where we started.In the meantime, the Government has managed to convey a message, to some at least, that cannabis is safe, which it isn't.Putting it back into category B will still suggest it is less harmful than other drugs, such as cocaine, which it may or may not be, depending on the scale of consumption.If there is confusion about cannabis, it is of the Government's own making. History is now being rewritten to make out that, when the decision to reclassify was taken, the evidence linking cannabis to schizophrenia and other mental illnesses was not there. This is not the case.The high THC content of modern cannabis makes it far more potent than in the 1960s and 1970s when today's policy-makers may have puffed on the odd joint. But they knew that when they took the decision to reclassify; so why contemplate a U-turn now?There are a host of anomalies in this area. The Government recently banned ketamine, a horse tranquilliser that has increasingly taken the place of ecstasy as the favoured drug of young clubbers.But it has been given a category C rating, while ecstasy remains in category A, even though the former is considered more dangerous on most objective tests of relative harms. What is the message? Switch to ketamine?Of course, the message should not be anything of the sort. It should be quite emphatically: "Don't touch any of it." When it comes to tobacco, the Government screams its health warnings and plasters them all over the packets of cigarettes.When it comes to drugs, it issues advice about how to take certain substances safely. The "Talk to Frank" website, sponsored by the Home Office, includes tips on how to mitigate the effects of taking particular drugs and is also open about what they do to you.Of ecstasy it says: "E makes people feel in tune with their surroundings. Sounds and colours feel more intense. A certain track of music can suddenly take on a spiritual significance. E makes emotions feel more intense."Users often feel great love for the people they're with and the strangers around them. E taken on its own is not a drug that makes people violent."It says of ketamine: "It is very dangerous when mixed with other drugs or even alcohol. It can lead to unconsciousness with depressant drugs or alcohol."It can cause panic attacks, depression and in large doses can exaggerate pre-existing mental health problems such as schizophrenia. If high enough doses are taken, the anaesthetic effect can result in death from inhaling vomit."Why, then, should ecstasy be class A and ketamine C? Whether we like it or not, many millions will continue to take illegal drugs whatever category they are in.People have always taken psychoactive substances and probably always will, and some are more predisposed to addictive behaviour than others.On the other hand, it is known that powerful health messages can have dramatic results in reducing addiction, as they have with nicotine over the past 30 years.A combination of state and peer-group nagging, an almost daily diet of scientific evidence about the dangers of smoking, health warnings taking up virtually the whole of a packet, punitive taxation pushing up the price of cigarettes and a culture emphasising well-being and fitness have encouraged millions to quit.Many who continue to smoke wish they didn't. So why can we not do the same with cannabis? Why the confusion over the message?One reason is that the supply of cannabis is in the hands of criminals. It cannot be taxed or its sale regulated. The principal means of controlling its consumption is through the criminal justice system, which can be a pretty blunt instrument.Is Charles Clarke seriously going to restore a five-year prison sentence for possessing a few ounces of weed? Instead of toughening up the criminal sanctions, surely the time has come for a different approach, one that is unequivocal about the dreadful damage cannabis can do to the brain and that invests the same effort in weaning users off the drug as has been expended in reducing tobacco smoking.Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)Author: Philip JohnstonPublished: January 9, 2006Copyright: 2006 Telegraph Group LimitedContact: dtletters Articles: Clarke Paves Way for U-Turn on Cannabis Urged Not To Reclassify Cannabis Jailed Every Week for Using Cannabis

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Comment #18 posted by museman on January 14, 2006 at 23:55:13 PT:
Pot Potency
In this report a statement is made;
"The high THC content of modern cannabis makes it far more potent than in the 1960s and 1970s when today's policy-makers may have puffed on the odd joint."We have been hearing this statement for a number of years now. It surprises me that this particular statistical conclusion has remained relatively unchallenged.As a long time smoker, and medical user I do remember the difference between the "lid" and "can" of the 60's and 70's to the OZ, and then to smaller amounts as the price began to rise.In the late sixties and into the late seventies there was a lot of flavors to choose from. Anybody who says that Thai Stick (the real thing), or vietnamese were not comparably potent to today's buds never had the pleasure. There were connoiseur choices from Columbia; brown, gold, and black. Let us not forget Panama Red! Acapulco Gold! Ohacan Rainbow. And others I cannot pronounce so am not going to attempt to spell.At least we had them until the CIA drug runners (Headed by G. Bush Sr. at the time I do believe) shifted their supply lines to Mexico thereby enabling Mexico to pay back all the loans they got from the U.S. Then the great herb got scarce, and terms like, "dry," and "dirt weed." entered the vernacular.It was sometime around here that 'The Marijuanna Growers Handbook' began to circulate, and 'homegrown' began to fill up the place that formerly other imported good pot had been.Most of us at the time had no real distinction between the leaf and the bud. It didn't take long before we realized the difference however and many an enterprising hippy went off to make their fortune growing pot.I think that they can only be making a comparison to that one time- from about 1979 to 1980 -only a matter of a season really, that we lost our world supply line, and began our internal growth. Otherwise I think that those folks whose families had been growing the finest herb for centuries, who knew all about strains, and breeding, would be incredulous to hear that in just a few decades our own growers have achieved equal potency and quality as their own.Oh. I believe we have achieved it, there is definitely some fine herb grown in America, but this claim of increased potency is pure nonsense.
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on January 14, 2006 at 16:12:36 PT

I've enjoyed our exchange of thoughts. I really believe what I say. This is a journey we are on and it has all kinds of interesting and learning experiences along the way. Some are good and some are bad and we hopefully learn to think a little clearer and more thoughtfully as we go thru life. I call it sorting it all out. 
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Comment #16 posted by museman on January 14, 2006 at 15:59:01 PT:

Good Thoughts
Now dreaming is a subject all it's own. I think John Lennon said it best in modern times;
"...but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you all can join us, and the whole world could be as one."Hopefully we are gaining some ground in maturity. I actually think there's real positive movement going on, right beside and above the negative media focus.I certainly have some life-time to reflect also, and have humbled my own youthful aspirations as well, so I definitely identify.
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on January 14, 2006 at 15:43:49 PT

My Thoughts
I believe people dream and are curious about what's around the next corner and we should be. Maybe if we didn't push the extremes a little we wouldn't have all the good things now that make us more comfortable. I have looked back on my life and thought wow I really was a bigot or I was really selfish or things like that. I thought I was right but now I know I wasn't. I have the answers for now but I don't know if they will be right when I'm a few years older because we keep changing as we experience life.
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Comment #14 posted by museman on January 14, 2006 at 15:21:07 PT:

RE: My Thoughts
Absolutely! Balance is a major key. As far as I can tell pure unfettered life is a dance of (pure) polarities. It also seems like those who won't join in the 'equality' and balance always have their own agendas, and those agendas invariably lead down paths of destruction.
Tolerance is a word that needs to be understood and practiced. However as the issues described on this forum reveal; there is a line that must be drawn on just how far we are willing to be pushed around. 
To the mainstream powers that be and the factions that fund, control, and produce them, the act of just saying NO! to their ridiculous presumptions of God-like power could be easily proclaimed as 'extremism.'The idea that the 'conservative Right' vs the 'liberal Left' represents an example of the 'balance (or imbalance) of polarities' is I believe a misconception fostered by the elitists themselves. The balance I believe we are really seeking, and are speaking of relates more to the various 'natures' of our actual reality that we live. 
For example; the dance that the genders have been dong with each other for several thousand years has until recently been a pretty one-sided well defined set of moves. The good intentions of some folks in the boomer generation opened up possibilites towards a better balance in that on-going natural human dance of sexual polarities. Yet when those ladies tore of their bras and burned them in public there was no one including the demonstrators themselves who would have had any trouble seeing that action as 'extreme.' That was a defining moment in the womens liberation movement.So balance yes. But a little extremism -wihtout harmful intent- can be a good productive thing.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on January 14, 2006 at 14:42:55 PT

My Thoughts
I watched a program on the Discovery Times Channel last night called Hearts and Minds. It was about Vietnam and it was very good. Iraq seems almost the same as Vietnam except we all knew we invaded Iraq and Vietnam's beginnings were before we had media like 24 hour news channels but mostly the Internet and most of us don't really know how Nam got out of hand like it did. I believe we have swung way to far to the right. Even in Animal Farm you can see the error of all ways of trying to make a utopian civilization. Man is greedy by nature and he always has been. We need to become more balanced and extremes are dangerous in my opinion.
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Comment #12 posted by museman on January 14, 2006 at 14:25:42 PT:

The New World Order
Obviously the Reagan/Bush/Bush itinerary is well under way. Putting the pressure on allied/NATO states to embrace the Republican ideology of the Great World Republic governed by the 12 wealthy (top 3 percent) world dynasties is apparently succeeding, at least in creating more snafu for the British so their efforts to achieve personal liberties are being bound up in the beaurocracies of The New World Order. It is a veritable copy of the political mess concerning prohibition and personal liberties in America.We need to go for the heart of the matter folks. Prohibition is a crux issue, in that the major frontlines in the battle for personal liberties and basic Human Rights and freedom are clearly drawn, and it is an active front...more than just concepts and words...many many people around the world are effected by prohibition and only in a negative way, there is nothing positive about any laws such as these.However, it is my observation and opinion, that; While we 'fight the good fight' on the issues confronting us, such as marijuanna prohibition, we also must consider the source, and begin to make the move towards the real issue which is the imbalance of wealth and power in this country.We are supposed to be a 'government by the people' not of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. Well the rich are people too, at least in appearance, but should not be pre-entitled just by virtue of money-defined pedigreed. Not in a democratic society that supposedly promotes and supports the idea that 'all men are created equal...'We have been battling for our inherent God given personal liberty, exemplified in the concept of 'free will', since day one. The source of the contention should not be overlooked by the pre-occupation of the battle on the front lines.I say we have to change the fundamental values of our Constitutional Law, and take the Power Of The People to some new levels.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on January 09, 2006 at 08:07:09 PT

Thanks Whig and BGreen
Whig it wasn't a slip. My name is Martha not as in Stewart but I prefer to think of my name from the song by the Beatles, Martha My Dear! LOL!
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on January 09, 2006 at 08:00:44 PT

Thank you. Steve and Michele are on my mind because I know this week is going to be very hard. I am not an eternal optimist when it comes to their case. I don't want to bring anybody down and I wished Steve and Michele the best and am crossing my fingers for them.
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Comment #9 posted by JoeCitizen on January 09, 2006 at 07:52:26 PT

I'm sure many of you here know who Steve Kubby is.  Steve is facing deportation from Canada this Friday, the 13th.  If that happens, Steve will die in an American jail cell, probably within a week.We all saw what happened to Steve Tuck a few weeks ago. He was ripped out of a Canadian hospital, dumped out of the country and into a American custody, and left to rot in a state jail cell without any medical care. He went through agonizing morphine withdrawal, and of course, was also deprived of cannabis to relieve his terrible back pain.Steve Tuck survived that, in no small part because he is one tough SOB.  But Steve KUBBY will NOT survive this ordeal.  Regular intake of cannabis is the only thing that control his phenochromocytoma (adrenal cancer).  Without cannabis, Steve Kubby develops poisonous levels of adrenaline in his body within 48 hours. His blood pressure and heart rate go crazy, and he is in danger of having a stroke at any point after that. Within a week, he will very likely be dead.PLEASE! Go to, and get the info there. Call or fax the relevant Canadian ministers. Don't sit on your hands and let them kill another Cannabis patient, especially one who has done as much, spoken as loudly and eloquently as Steve Kubby. He was one of the primary activists who got proposition 215 passed in California in 1996. The entire medical cannabis movement owes him a debt of gratitude.It hurt me badly when Peter McWilliams died choking on his own vomit when the pigs deprived him of cannabis. More recently, Steve McWilliams suicide when he was deprived of cannabis was another avoidable tragedy, another crime by the State. I don't want to see Steve Kubby die too!Please Help!  The info is all at  Make the calls, send the faxes. You can help prevent a man, a husband, a father from being murdered just by picking up the phone. DO IT NOW!!ThanksJoeCitizen 
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Comment #8 posted by mayan on January 09, 2006 at 06:20:47 PT

I hope more celebrities come out and call the neo-cons what they are. They ARE terrorists, pure and simple...In Caracas, Belafonte Calls Bush Terrorist:
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Comment #7 posted by mayan on January 09, 2006 at 04:29:09 PT

They're Pissed
The British people realize that the folks who want to cage cannabis users are largely the same folks who are fascist war mongers. Many Brits are also quite aware that 9/11 and 7/7 were inside jobs and that the so-called "war on terror" is actually a war on freedom. They aren't about to believe the cannabis/mental illness crap spewed by a government that lied them into a war. They are even more fed up than the American people and will find cannabis even if they have to spend their money in foreign countries to obtain it... Ulster arthritis sufferers visit Dutch cannabis cafes: exercise in futility...Computer databases help officers track large marijuana operations: WAY OUT IS THE WAY IN...9/11 Issues:
http://janedoe0911.tripod.com9/11 audio/video archive: Alliance for 9/11 Truth: Coverup Facts: 10-Page Summary: 9/11 'Smoking Guns' Found in the Mainstream Media: SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 TREASON INDEPENDENT PROSECUTOR ACT:
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Comment #6 posted by LarryH on January 09, 2006 at 04:18:11 PT:

"Dazed" and Confused about Cannibis
"When it comes to tobacco, the Government screams its health warnings and plasters them all over the packets of cigarettes."  And, at the same time collect tons of tax dollars from it. 
 Another question is : Why don't people have their own crops of tobacco growing in the back yard ? I mean, have you seen the price of smokes ? Isn't that one of the "fantasy" reasons they have for not making marijuana legal ? Because everyone could grow their own, and they'd lose money . The government is kind of like the t-shirt saying " If you can't dazzle them with brillance, baffle them with BullS&^%. 

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Comment #5 posted by whig on January 09, 2006 at 03:53:18 PT

It would be appropriate too, since George and Martha Washington were notorious hemp farmers.
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Comment #4 posted by BGreen on January 09, 2006 at 02:32:38 PT

Nah, we know Martha
Martha and her husband George just don't want everybody to know their last name is Washington. LOLWell, maybe not, but she's certainly the first lady of Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #3 posted by whig on January 09, 2006 at 02:21:44 PT

Even if so...
I'm Michael, if you ever prefer to call me by name.
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Comment #2 posted by whig on January 09, 2006 at 02:19:44 PT

I hope that wasn't an unintentional slip.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 08, 2006 at 21:57:32 PT

A Note from Allen St. Pierre
January 9, 2006Hello Martha,Howareya?!Can you please have some fun with this at and the NORML Foundation are proud to announce the release of our first major Internet viral animation project. It's called Sam's Journey.I think you"ll enjoy this funny and poignant 90-second animation and will want to forward it on to ALL of your like-minded friends, family and co-workers. In fact, the only way the project can be successful is for you to pass the animation around. don't Bogart Sam's Journey. Pass it around, and as always, thanks for the terrific support you provide NORML!With warm regards for 2006,*-Allen St. Pierre Executive Director Member, Board of Directors NORML/NORML Foundation Washington, DC director*Rhode Island just became the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana so this year is already shaping up to be a dynamic one for marijuana law reform.

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