Targeting wrong drug

Janneke Dobben (youth comment, 0-19, March) wants cannabis legalised because it would “cut out the ‘crime’ aspect” and “give researchers more scope for really looking into the drug”. She also suggests that the government could use the revenue earned from selling the drug to help with rehabilitation and education.

Although in principle I’m not against the legalisation of cannabis, I would like to question some of Dobben’s thinking. To start with, I doubt very much whether the government would ever   commit to channelling revenue earned from selling cannabis into the care and rehabilitation of cannabis smokers. After all, the health service might be rather more cash rich if the same principle applied to revenue earned from alcohol and tobacco!

To say a valid reason for legalising cannabis is to enable research into how much damage it does is also dubious ethically – the same argument could be made for of a whole host of other very damaging substances.

Efforts should be concentrated instead on combating the harmful effects of alcohol and tobacco. Their impact is far greater on a comparatively larger proportion of the population’s health than cannabis. The burden that alcohol-fuelled brawling places on the police and the drain of resulting injuries on the NHS are massive in comparison to the cost of treating the relatively few  cannabis smokers who end up with mental health problems.

As Chantal Stevens (comment, 0-19, March) points out, there are “thousands of people who have used cannabis who have never experienced mental health problems”.


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