The Truth About Drugs 

The Truth About Drugs 
Posted by CN Staff on June 02, 2002 at 19:37:38 PT
By Ros Coward
Source: Guardian Unlimited UK
Cannabis and ecstasy are pretty harmless, or so everyone involved in the public discussion on soft drugs seems to agree. Judges, police and politicians rush to be more liberal than thou, while the feeblest objection brands dissenters as hopelessly out of touch with that most revered of all forces, "youth culture". Yet the evidence I see around me totally contradicts this prevailing view. Among young people and those who provide services for them, especially psychological services, there is plenty of evidence for the opposite. These drugs are not harmless at all and are heavily implicated in the growing numbers of adolescents with mental health problems. 
Talk to families with teenagers and the anecdotal evidence is startling. Many have a family member or friend who has experienced some kind of mental breakdown or an episode of severe mental disturbance. In every case that person had been a regular user of cannabis, ecstasy or speed. These crises are not identical and the individuals concerned have all been given different diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and manic depression. But in all there is the common theme of what the teenagers themselves call "copious amounts of drugs". Young people themselves recognise that cannabis can induce feelings of paranoia and know it when they see it in others. One told me recently that all her friends now find it "quite amusing" when they recognise other young people looking at them in strange and hostile ways. "We all know what's going on in their heads, that paranoia when you think everyone is looking at you." The "drugs are harmless" brigade have a knee-jerk response to anecdotal tales of psychiatric breakdowns: drugs do not cause these states. The recent official report from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs summed up the dominant thinking. "Although cannabis may worsen existing mental health problems, the medical experts say there is no evidence that it causes brain damage but the jury is still out on whether chronic use can lead to mental illness." Normally if a jury is out on a serious public health issue you might expect them to err on the side of caution. But the council does the opposite, recommending downgrading cannabis from class B to class C, concluding that "high use of cannabis is not associated with major health problems for individuals or society". Mental heath problems are so multi-causal that hard and fast explanations are always difficult. With drugs involved, it is especially complex to separate cause and effect because heavy drug users are often people struggling with painful emotions. Despite these understandable cautions, there is something very odd about the readiness with which the government accepts the view that drugs only exacerbate pre-existing conditions. All the experts I meet take a different view. One psychoanalyst told me that heavy use of cannabis and ecstasy during adolescence can cause mental health problems. "Drugs overlay existing mental health problems," she said, "but they also create their own logic of confusion and disorder." That view is also common among psychiatrists, who have coined the term "cannabis psychosis". Dr Neil Brenner, medical director of The Priory psychiatric hospital, is in little doubt that cannabis and ecstasy are implicated in the increase in adolescent mental health problems. "Cannabis can certainly lead to psychological problems," he says. "I am very wary of the concept of soft drugs. Cannabis was 20 to 30 times weaker in the 70s than it is now. It's much more potent." He does not blame cannabis for causing breakdowns in large numbers of cases. But, he says, "it can certainly precipitate psychological problems for the vulnerable, and it is never something that can be taken without consequences." These are hardly the views of marginal cranks. Professor Susan Greenfield, one of the country's foremost experts on brain processes, agrees about the dangers of inducing chemical changes in the brain, especially in adolescence. She campaigns in schools on this subject, saying: "The big risk is you will change the person you are. Blowing your mind is exactly what you are doing. I oppose the view that cannabis is OK. You need only 0.7mg - as opposed to 2,000mg of alcohol - to achieve an observable effect in the brain." The latest international review of cannabis by the World Health Organisation highlights dangers such as throat and lung cancer and "increasing incidence of mental health problems due to prolonged heavy use in a minority of users". Yet Peter Wilson, director of Young Minds, says he feels silenced. "If you talk about problems with drugs, you are bashed over the head by those insisting there is no real evidence of harm. To contradict them makes you feel like Colonel Blimp." These voices are not being listened to because of a pernicious muddle around the issue. The public policy of illegality has failed, so there is finally a commendable move towards tolerance of use combined with "realistic education" - an approach recommended in the recent select committee report. But realistic education ought surely to put these mental health issues in the foreground. Instead, such views are silenced; all talk is of legalisation of "less harmful" or even "harmless" substances. This constitutes a disregard for public safety. Perhaps this is because drug use is mainly a youth problem, and there is a feeling that they are in such a mess anyway that a few drugs won't make much difference. Somehow we have become so accustomed to the torment which characterises adolescence that we no longer notice when another difficulty is added to their lives. Instead we abdicate responsibility - in this case on the spurious grounds that causes of psychological problems can't be proved. Even those who reject clear causal connections between drug use and adolescent psychological problems admit that the increase in mental health problems is fuelling drug use. What an indictment. You might think a society would do everything in its power to understand and alleviate the pressures on its young people instead of using the evidence of misery as an excuse to do nothing. This is a muddle caused by a craven deference to youth fashion, a cynical ignorance encouraged by the desire to appease an imaginary group, to appear culturally cool. A recent Observer special report on drugs didn't even list mental health problems as a possible side-effect of cannabis. Meanwhile, the government's latest drug campaign shows the bloated image of a dead heroin addict, an image which could easily feed a perverse teenage romanticism of despair. If it's "realistic education" they are after, how about starting with the sad, shifty-eyed, self-ostracising cannabis paranoids young people will all recognise? Note: Cannabis can be dangerous and only those pandering to youth culture pretend otherwise.Special Report: Drugs in Britain:,2759,178206,00.htmlSource: Guardian Unlimited, The (UK)Author: Ros CowardPublished: Monday, June 3, 2002Copyright: 2002 Guardian Newspapers LimitedContact: comment Website: Articles & Web Site:Drugs Uncovered: Observer Special Street Crime Falls 50% Falls in Cannabis Trial Area Police and Hard Drugs: The Cleveland Report 
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Comment #11 posted by idbsne1 on June 03, 2002 at 11:53:24 PT
I hate....
these arrogant prohibitionists.Isn't funny the title of their pieces.....such blatent arrogance."The Truth about Drugs""The Straight Dope"As if they are telling the Truth.idbsne1
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on June 03, 2002 at 10:20:15 PT
Thank you for the article. I think I'll pass on posting it but I'm glad you posted the link for us to read. Very intense. 
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Comment #9 posted by Lehder on June 03, 2002 at 09:56:52 PT
This is the sleaziest article I've read in a while. Prohibitionists could not convince anyone that marijuana causes deformities in fetuses, or that it causes cancer, or that it makes people lazy or stupid, so now they'll try to claim that it makes people crazy. I think it was Lester Grinspoon? who explained the matter: cannabis does cause people to go crazy - but only people who don't smoke it and who are against anyone else smoking it, like author Ros Coward. 
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Comment #8 posted by DImebag on June 03, 2002 at 08:44:11 PT
Not Once Did The tell us?
Did they even tell us what kind of psychological problems come with the smoking of cannibus? I havnt seen any. My grandfather has been smoking pot since he could remember and he doesnt seem to have any problems thinking for him self. Now he is an old man and he forgets shit, but thats typical of old people. My Girl Friend was on Aderol for her A.D.D and Some Anti Depressant. Well she was basically a Zombie for a while. Until I got her to try marijuana and stop taking those fukin pills. 
 Well to say the least she was much more happier after about a month off the pills and on Marijuana. Marijuana doesnt cause psycological problems. Going to Jail for some pot, now that causes psycological problems. My best friend went to jail for having Pot, and Not having a valid drivers licens. They put him in Orleans Parish Prison for two days with all the Child Molestors and Murderers, and when he came out he just never seemed the same. Hes Now overly paranoid. He wont smoke unless we light like 14 candles and some encense. Now every one of his friends has to have a backup plan to get rid of everything just in case the police come when they are smoking. Hes just not the same. I think he may have gotten raped in prison and doesnt want to tell any one. That will make a sain man insane. I told him he needs to Sue the State Correctional facility.Dimebag.
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Comment #7 posted by cltrldmg on June 03, 2002 at 08:29:24 PT
a mad scientist
"These are hardly the views of marginal cranks. Professor Susan Greenfield, one of the country's foremost experts on brain processes, agrees about the dangers of inducing chemical changes in the brain, especially in adolescence. She campaigns in schools on this subject, blah blah"Actually they're right, this woman must be a _major_ crank. These arguments are total bullshit. Following the logic that of 'it changes the kind of person you are', children should be locked up in their rooms prohibited from talking to anyone, listening to music or reading a book. Actually even thinking can change the kind of person you are.. maybe the brilliant professor can come up with some solution to that?"You need only 0.7mg - as opposed to 2,000mg of alcohol - to achieve an observable effect in the brain"... yeah, maybe. But what the hell is your point? My argument would be that drinking 8 pints of strong beer or drinking half a bottle of gin is enough to kill a lot of people, you can smoke 10 or 15 joints (is that even possible?), and you'll just be stoned out of your mind, go to sleep and wake up the next day feeling fine.The prohibitionists must really be running out of arguments if they're turning to this so-called scientist. I wonder if anybody in the science community listens to her, if that's any indication of the level of her scientific reasoning.
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Comment #6 posted by krutch on June 03, 2002 at 07:22:29 PT:
Drugs are Harmless??
I have never heard anyone in the pro-legalization camp say cannabis is harmless. Dumb people like this guy think that to be legalized a drug should be harmless. This is wrong. We know cigarettes and alcohol are not harmless. They are both carcinogenic, and it is known fact that heavy alcohol use damages the brain and leads to mental problems.I have not seen one study linking MJ use to mental illness. If the author wants to make a case for this perhaps he should look for a study to quote rather than offering the opinions of a few professionals. Opinions mean little without data to back them up. To spite all of the research money that has poured into studying the "dangers" of MJ, they still can't seem to find a smoking gun. 
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Comment #5 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on June 03, 2002 at 05:24:43 PT
>>Talk to families with teenagers and the anecdotal evidence is startling.  But talk to cancer patients at a cannabis buyers club, and the overwhelming anecdotal evidence still isn't enough to keep the DEA off their doorstep...
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Comment #4 posted by Lehder on June 03, 2002 at 04:41:07 PT
you might want to post this article
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Comment #3 posted by dddd on June 02, 2002 at 23:39:39 PT
FreedomFighter Hits The Nail on the Head!
"JAIL can be even worse on one's mental health than all use of all drugs in one's lifetime.."
....Well said FF.......even a few days in jail can be harmful to ones mental health,,but months,or years in prison will definatly alter ones mental health......
"........These drugs are not harmless at all and are heavily implicated in the growing numbers of adolescents with mental health problems."
..the article has forgotten to take into account several factors:,,first,,a young person with a mental problem,would likely have a mental problem without "drugs",but drugs are a convienient item to blame,because it allows them to avoid the actual root problems of mental illness,,emotional strain,,lousy parents,,childhood trauma,,,poverty,,social ills..etc.........secondly,,,what about the huge number of people who have AVOIDED mental illness,due to the benifits of Marijuana!?...Where is the survey,,or statistics about all the people like me,,who would have probably FREAKED OUT,,if I never had Marijuana!??..dddd 
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Comment #2 posted by Druid on June 02, 2002 at 22:40:40 PT:
Why do they do that?
These drug warriors, in order to find a problem with cannabis always have to mix it with another substance first. I am sick of hearing of the danger of cannabis and alcohol, or cannabis and speed, or cannabis and tobacco, or cannabis and ecstacy, or cannabis and whatever! It is really odd that to put down cannabis a drug warrior always brings another substance into the big picture. If you look at any study the says cannabis is bad there is always that second or third or fourth substance involved. Listen up drug warriors! If you want to convince me that cannabis is bad then you better start isolating cannabis and start making accurate reports about cannabis and only cannabis. I don't mix cannabis with anything. I use cannabis and cannabis alone. No alchol, no speed, no opiates, no ecstacy, no tobacco. This article really gets to me because they are talking about teenagers and not one legalizer that I know or have read about supports making cannabis available to this particular group of people. We all agree that the mind is a delicate thing when developing and it is better to stay drug free during these years. THE LIES THE LIES
They always have to lie to get their point across. It's funny what I was reading on . This website is a drug warrior site telling us about the horrors of drugs. This article reminded me of it when I read the part about marijuana being 20-30 times stronger than in the 70's. The website says: (marijuana)
"In 1974, the average THC content of illicit marijuana was less than 1 percent; in early 1994, potency averaged 5 percent. The THC of today's sinsemilla ranges up to 17 percent. As of August 2001, THC content in Marijuana produced in the Vancouver BC area averages in the 18 to 24 percent. On one occasion the THC content was measured at 36%, but that was a rare occurrence."(hashish)
"The THC content of hashish that reaches the United States, where demand is limited, averaged 6 percent in the 1990s." (hash oil)
"Current samples of hash oil, a viscous liquid ranging from amber to dark brown in color, average about 15 percent THC. In terms of its psychoactive effect, a drop or two of this liquid on a cigarette is equal to a single "joint" of marijuana."CONFUSION
Now I am confused. Marijuana buds are usually not as potent as hash or hash oil but according to the drug warriors vegetable matter of cannabis is both stronger and weaker than at least hash oil. Anyone else confused? They claim that a single drop of has oil is equal to a single joint of marijuana but yet the thc % is LESS in the hash oil! Why oh why do they keep spouting the nonsense of how much thc is in pot today? Besides THE STRONGER THE POT THE BETTER BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO SMOKE LESS! DUH!
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Comment #1 posted by freedom fighter on June 02, 2002 at 20:33:06 PT
Truth about Illegal drugs
JAIL can be even worse on one's mental health than all use of all drugs in one's lifetime..Any question about "public safety"?ff
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