ACMD THINKING IS FLAWED IF IT BASES ADVICE ON KEELE REPORT
The BBC reports that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has decided cannabis should remain a class C drug. Its home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the decision, in a private meeting, was based on research from Keele University which "found nothing to support a theory that rising cannabis use in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s led to increases in the incidence of schizophrenia later on".
There are three fundamental flaws with this argument.
The most obvious is that cannabis available 35 or so years ago was 7-12 times weaker than the product available today. It might have the same name but this study is NOT comparing like with like. 21st-century cannabis has been refined and intensified over a third of a century and causes more damage.
The second flaw concerns the ACMD’s statement that schizophrenia numbers should have increased since the 1970s if there is a causal connection and "they have not" – wrong. In 2003, Boydell and others found a continuous, significant rise in the incidence of schizophrenia between 1965-1997. It doubled in the south east of London, with the increase greatest in people under 35.
In 2004, Fischer and others from Keele University monitored 3% of England’s population by looking at GP practice records – from 1993-1998, the number of people using drugs and having mental illness rose 62%, with the average age falling to 34. Between the ages of 25-34, the cases more than doubled.
And a Parliamentary Question by Rosie Winterton in 2006 revealed that the number of cannabis users admitted to hospitals with mental illness rose by 20% in the first year since down-classification of cannabis.
Last but not least, the ACMD should not ignore research showing that cannabis abusers quadruple their risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking, that cannabis smokers have more lung health problems than tobacco smokers, that it impairs the immune system, that depression and anxiety and personality disturbances are linked with chronic marijuana use, that it hinders the ability to learn and remember information and thus school and job prospects, that it adversely affects babies of pregnant women, that it affects the reproductive systems of both men and women.
Addiction Today has been told that, of 76 research papers confirming cannabis damage, the ACMD looked at only 3; we have not confirmed this.
But this is not even taking into account the indavertently damaging messages being sent out about some drugs being "safer" or "more legal" than others. Or the arguments of the police, judiciary and medical establishment.
In 2000, before the ACMD/government downgraded the classification of cannabis, Addiction Today printed an article with the research on its harms. Read it here.
For the latest infofacts on marijuana, click here.