- Category: Articles
- Published: 12 January 2002
Cannabis is a narcotic drug, which means it is a substance that is damaging to health and habit forming. (Swiss Association of Doctors Against Drugs)
There has been mounting pressure in recent times to “re classify,” decriminalise, or legalise cannabis. Sources include the UK based Police Federation (no connection to the Police), Paul McCartney (ex Beatle and along with his late wife Linda, also a cannabis user), Anita Roddick (Body Shop selling Hemp products), Richard Branson (Virgin Megastores who admitted that he would sell the products in his shops), and the American multi-billionaire George Soros, who claims to have invested in excess of 90m US Dollars (Soros on Soros) in the campaign. He recently handed over 1m US Dollars to the UK campaign. In Ireland there are similar self-interest groups.
The UK Government is presently capitulating to this pressure under Mr. Blair's leadership. It seems there is no energy for this debate coming from the Conservative Party.
As if there is not enough confusion around the issue, these people will argue for decriminalisation as an option in the face of resistance. They say that this is not the same as legalisation. This sounds plausible, but it is blatantly false. The term decriminalisation means to bring the drug problem out of the scope of penal (criminal) law. Law enforcement would then no longer be provided for the export, import, manufacture, distribution, sale, possession or use of drugs. Society would, as a result, have no law or lever to direct addicts towards treatment or to suppress trafficking. Legalisation means that the government would have to arrange a more or less free distribution of drugs (as for tobacco and alcohol products).
These facts must raise the question, what kind of society do we want? Do we want teachers, nurses, doctors, public service drivers, airline pilots etc., etc., stupefied while on duty? Lloyds of London will not insure people who are narcotic dependent. How do we check?
If cannabis is legalised/decriminalised, who will be responsible for the quality and strength of the drug? Will there be any age restrictions? How will the drug prices be set? Where will they be sold? Will there be State drugstores, or will drugs be available through your local supermarket? Will certain groups with sensitive professions be governed by special restrictions? Are there to be any kind of restrictions at all? These questions are never answered by the drug legalisation lobby. The most smuggled drugs on the black market are cigarettes, yet they are legal. Together with alcohol, they account for more deaths and diseases than the illegal substances. Because of their legality they are socially acceptable and readily available and cannot be kept away from teenagers, the “underage” population.
WHAT IS CANNABIS?
This so-called soft drug is a toxic narcotic (UN 1961 Single Convention Amended in 1972). It has no medical benefits (see www.eurad.com...Research). A single joint is composed of more than 400 different chemicals, all of them toxic. On combustion these multiply into about 2,000 equally poisonous chemicals. Cannabis is different from alcohol, heroin or other drugs because it is fat-soluble. This causes it to be absorbed into the brain and other fatty organs of the body where it is stored for months in both the chronic and so-called recreational user, resulting in the person becoming stupefied. It is only very slowly released from the body, which explains the absence of severe withdrawals. This lulls the person into believing that he or she is not addicted. While in the body the toxins are attacking every cell, system, and organ present, with the brain sustaining the most damage, as it is one-third fat.
People with asthma, epilepsy, heart problems, depression, or mental illness are especially at risk. Medical studies in Sweden have shown marijuana to trigger latent schizophrenia, an incurable mental illness. The tragedy of cannabis is that the harm is so subtle that it is not realised by the user or his/her family until it is too late. Frequently, it is only when a young person has been apprehended by the police and judicial system for anti-social behaviour that his or her cannabis addiction is discovered. Police intervention can be a life saving exercise in all its forms.
The chemicals in cannabis adversely affect the central nervous system, cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune systems. Foetal damage is incurred in pregnant women, and a rare form of leukemia can be caused in infants.
Cannabis is a highly carcinogenic drug. American studies have shown cellular damage to the lungs of cannabis smokers, who smoke two joints of cannabis a day, to be as harmful as the damage caused by 28 tobacco cigarettes. Since the 1970's, more than 12,000 scientific studies have been conducted on cannabis. None of them give it a clean bill of health. Scientists and medical experts warn that the term “soft” has no medical, scientific, or pharmacological basis. New cultivation methods by the Dutch (Hydroponics) have resulted in cannabis being many times stronger than the so-called “hard” drugs.
There is not a shred of evidence to support the theory of medical benefits. The American Medical Association, Cancer Society, and the MS Society among others (see wwweurad.com....Research) have gone on record to state that they do not support these spurious claims. Crude cannabis does not have the medical benefits the legalizers state. Physicians should no more lend support to the use of a drug that had to be smoked by a patient whose immune system is already impaired than they would prescribe cigarettes to a patient suffering from stress or obesity.
Decreases in sperm production and increases in abnormal forms caused by THC have been recently attributed to a biological phenomenon known as "apoptosis" of the cell. Apoptosis is the process of programmed cell death occurring over hours and days, in successive stages, resulting in the fragmentation of DNA and the disintegration of the cell. It is a fundamental process emphasized in the first report on the human genome (2001). Apoptosis is controlled by an important cluster (home box) of genes, which order the self-destruction, or suicide of the cell. (Nahas)
An incorrect assumption of some scientists was that recreational usage of cannabis would not produce apoptosis. They failed to take into account the distribution of THC throughout the body and it's lengthy storage in fat depots and subsequent slow release in the same active form as when first ingested. After a single cannabis cigarette, 50% of its THC is stored in fat depots for five days. It will take 30 days for it's complete elimination. If one smokes one joint every two days, one will store ten times more than the initial dose of THC after ten days and 30 times more after 30 days. Such amounts have been scientifically proven to induce apoptosis of sperm cells and of lymphocytes. (Nahas)
PSEUDO ARGUEMENTS IN FAVOUR
Armchair Generals will go on to argue that it is wrong to criminalise cannabis users. However, just like larceny, smuggling, or murder, cannabis use and dealing (whether to support the personal habit or not) is prohibited for good reason. We might as well argue that mugging or larceny should be legalised because it involves too much paperwork, is taking up too much of police time, and clogging up the court system.
It is argued that the money saved could be spent on apprehending the big dealers and providing more treatment facilities. They conveniently forget that although alcohol and cigarettes are taxed to the hilt, the taxes gathered do not cover the cost of their medical treatment. Nor is appropriate policing provided.
Another argument put forward is that State controlled and taxed sale of drugs would unseat the International Mafia. Where is the evidence for this? For example, in 1988, The Netherlands had three organised crime groups, but by 1993 that number had risen to 93. (Source: Dutch National Committee on Prevention) The Mafia are only interested in making money. When drugs are no longer illegal, they will move into the legitimate market. Because of the addictive nature of cannabis, the Mafia would have access to a growing market as with alcohol and cigarettes. They can also “undercut” the legal suppliers and provide a stronger variety without it being challenged. Who will police the underage market?
In the Netherlands, where de facto decriminalisation is practised (the Dutch Government calls it separation of the market), there has been a 49 percent rise in registered cannabis addicts between 1991-93. In 1988, there were three organised crime groups in that country. By 1993, there were 93. Seventy-three percent of Dutch people think that their drug laws are too tolerant. Cannabis use among students in Holland has increased by 250 percent since 1984. (Source: K.F.Gunning MD. Drug Legalisation, Harm Reduction and Drug Policy). Shootings have increased by 4 percent, car thefts by 6 percent and hold-ups by 69 percent. (Gunning) The consequences of these lax policies prove clearly that, far from freeing up the judicial system, they are grinding the system to a halt. The murder rate in Amsterdam is greater than Newark in New Jersey, a city of similar size. Recent figures released by the Brixton Police in the UK show a rise in crime since the local police chief took it upon himself to reclassify cannabis possession for personal use as a misdemeanour.
The argument that legalisation will mean that addicts will no longer have to commit crimes in order to obtain money for drugs was put to the test in the 1960's in Sweden. During that time the Swedish Government decided to “medicalise” their drug problem. However, an evaluation of the legal prescription of narcotics in Sweden demonstrated that criminality increased despite the fact that narcotics (i.e. cannabis) were then freely available. Similarly, The Netherlands gained the reputation of the crime capital of Europe in 1990.
Many train, plane, and road fatalities are directly associated with the use of cannabis. Hospital A&E Departments report treating many such victims.( Source: Drug Watch International) In Ireland, many brutal murders and violent acts, as well as road fatalities, are directly attributed to cannabis use among the factors.
UNITED NATIONS CONVENTIONS ON NARCOTICS AND THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Since 1961, cannabis has been included in the U.N. Single Convention (Amended in 1972) on Narcotic Drugs. It is also included in Article 33 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. These Conventions have been ratified by 150 countries. Can they all be wrong?
The reason for the inclusion of cannabis was the evidence of the damage being caused to the individual and to society by the use of this poisonous and addictive intoxicant.
During the past century, physicians and public health officials from countries where cannabis and hashish had been widely used reported on the damaging effects of these drugs on their people and their society. These reports, based on close observation but without the benefit of biochemistry, were at the origin of the U.N. Single Convention of 1960, held in New York City.
The U.N. Convention is a mandate from the people of the world to achieve a global interdiction of drugs of abuse in order to protect public health and safeguard man. These Conventions were unanimously adopted by all U.N. member nations.
Laws of interdiction against cannabis are enforced in Sweden and Scandinavia with firmness, but according to seriousness of individual offences. In Sweden, it is against the law to ingest cannabis or other illegal drugs. Sweden has the best rates of success against drug abuse in Europe. Prevention, intervention and treatment are priorities. The parent movement is very strong and effective in that country.
At the other end of the scale, the Netherlands has long opted for the decriminalisation of cannabis, and now their open coffee shops are controlled by criminal organisations that supply a variety of drugs through the “back door.” Illegal drug traffic in The Netherlands accounts for close to 1 percent of its Gross National Product. As a result of being contaminated by it's neighbour with drug trafficking, the Belgium Government has now decriminalised cannabis.
THE RIGHTS OF THE ORDINARY CITIZEN
To suggest changing the law is to advocate chemical warfare on our most vulnerable citizens — our youngsters and the socially and emotionally deprived, who seek it out as a means of escapism. In the United States, children who smoke cannabis are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than those who do not use cannabis. Sick people are being manipulated as guinea pigs to promote medical pot. To change the laws will not change the proven medical and scientific facts on cannabis. It will not alter its toxicity.
Cannabis users do not have the right to destabilise democracy. The majority of citizens do not want cannabis laws weakened. Democracy means that one cannot do as one may like always, but must subject him/herself to limitations for the collective good.
If the judicial system is being overloaded with cannabis cases and the police are complaining about the paperwork, then we should be looking at special courts that will direct these people towards treatment in the case of non-violent offences. Treatment must be readily available, especially in the case of young teenagers, to avert serious addiction and cannabis psychoses. Support must be offered to parents and schools. Police Juvenile Diversion Programmes should be strengthened. This will have a knock on effect in reducing road accidents that occur as a result of cannabis stupification.
The opposite to all of these humane approaches would be to develop a banana republic.
The fat-soluble smoke in cannabis damages the brain, respiratory tract, immune system and the unborn foetus. Users cause damage to society through family breakdown, road accidents, and violent acts.
WHEN ARE THE UNITED NATIONS GOING TO SIT UP AND DEFEND THEIR CONVENTIONS ON NARCOTICS AND THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN?
International President -Europe Against Drugs
Woman of Europe Award – Médaille de Maire de Strasbourg – Médaille de Maire de Paris – Swedish Parent Award Lord Mayor’s Award Dublin - Drug Watch USA International Delegate for Ireland
EURAD’s delegates and affiliates are in Europe, the USA, Canada, South America, New Zealand, and Australia. EURAD holds consultative status with the Council of Europe, Strasbourg. EURAD is a member of the NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs at the UN Office, Vienna. Reg. No. Stichting EURAD S-155759, Chamber of Commerce, The Hague, The Netherlands.