Is the increase in ‘super strength skunk’ in Britain a reason to legalise cannabis?

Obama Admin. Unveils New Policy Easing Medical Marijuana Prosecutions
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Is the increase in ‘super strength skunk’ in Britain a reason to legalise cannabis?

YES – Peter Reynolds, president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform.

This new study is scientists confirming what we already know. There is nothing new here – it has been clear for 30 years that THC levels in street cannabis are rising.

The first driver is prohibition. As with alcohol prohibition, more concentrated versions of the drug are promoted.

The second is improved growing techniques. This means inhaling less harmful smoke for the same effect.

Under prohibition, consumers have no choice, no labelling, and no quality control. The answer is regulation: licensed growers and retailers, age limits, labelling, and harm reduction information. This would create tens of thousands of new jobs, cut out the criminal gangs, and reduce the harms of the drug.

Using this study to scaremonger about psychosis is shameful. NHS records do not support the wildly speculative projections. Where are all the schizophrenics in the 30 US states where much stronger cannabis is legally available? Where are the psychotic “cannabis addicts” in the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, and the Czech Republic?

Read more: The UK's failed drug strategy causes misery and costs lives

NO – Rory Geoghegan, head of criminal justice at the Centre for Social Justice.

Legalising cannabis will only make an already serious problem much worse.

Almost 90 per cent of young people currently in treatment for substance abuse have a problem with cannabis. We know that using it increases the risk of psychosis. A recent study found that up to one in four psychotic conditions are the direct result of smoking extra-strong varieties of cannabis. Smoking it is rightly described as playing Russian roulette with your mental health.

In 2016, we surveyed more than 100 frontline charities working to fight poverty, and 73 per cent were concerned about the effect of cannabis on their clients and their families. Unsurprising then, that twice as many of these charities opposed legalisation as supported it.

Legalisation would only increase the access and availability of the drug. It would downplay the very real and serious harms, and would make a bad situation much worse. The real focus should be on tackling the supply and demand for drugs, and ensuring that addicts can get treatment and recover.

Read more: It’s high time archaic cannabis prohibition went up in smoke

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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