Our letters 

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The Independent, 11th July 2002:

I want my children to grow up in a society where they have access to the safest recreational drug available. I accept that life is stressful and we all need to unwind sometimes. But alcohol and tobacco kill 130,000 people every year in the UK. Cannabis has never killed anyone. Think of all the lives that could be saved if people could be encouraged to switch to cannabis or if teenagers opted for cannabis as their drug of choice rather than alcohol or tobacco.

The advantages of cannabis are not just to do with health. Government research has shown that cannabis does not cause a loss of inhibitions as alcohol does, instead making people drive more cautiously, and that there are many positive medicinal effects.

If parents want the safest drug for their children in the future but are concerned about cannabis, then I urge them to find out the truth for themselves. As our children receive better drug education you can be sure that the truth will find them.

The Independent, 8th October 2002:

The imprisonment of Colin Davies for supplying cannabis through Britain's first cannabis cafe highlights the discrimination against minorities who use drugs safer than those that our government classifies as legal. Had Mr Davies sold tobacco, a drug that a quarter of the adult population are addicted to and which kills 120,000 citizens every year, he would have been allowed to profit from his drug supply. He chose to sell cannabis, a drug less addictive than coffee that has never killed anyone, and has been imprisoned.

The World Health Organisation's report Cannabis: a health perspective and research agenda states that "cannabis poses a much less serious public health problem than is currently posed by alcohol and tobacco in Western societies". Our own Government's Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs says "Legal drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, are responsible for far greater damage both to individual health and to the social fabric in general than illegal ones".

Why then is cannabis still illegal? Perhaps because it represents such an economic threat to Government finances. The Government is the biggest profiteer from the drugs trade, benefiting from the supply of their legal but lethal drugs to the tune of 20 bn a year. The best quality cannabis can be grown by anyone at home avoiding any tax revenue demanded by Government.

Our teenagers are growing up to join a society where they have a one in five chance of being killed by drugs that our government profits from. Licensed cannabis cafes offer an opportunity for our citizens to obtain the only safer alternative to alcohol and tobacco without being exposed to drug suppliers dealing in the 'hard drugs', cocaine and heroin.

Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs

The Independent, 28th November 2002:

The increase in teenage usage of cannabis ("Cannabis smoking by teenagers surges by 50 per cent", 25 November) shows that our drug education program is succeeding. Teenagers are responding to the statement made by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs that "the high use of cannabis is not associated with major health problems for the individual or society."

Recent reports suggesting that there may be a link between cannabis and mental ill health demonstrate that no drug can be completely safe. However these health risks are minimal compared to those of tobacco. The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health report (2001) stated that "Half of all regular [tobacco] smokers will eventually be killed by their habit". The Department of Health says tobacco is more addictive than heroin. Tobacco addicts have a death rate several times greater than those addicted to street-quality heroin. Heroin addicts may commit crime but tobacco addicts kill hundreds of innocent people every year through passive smoking.

If teenage cannabis use increases while tobacco use decreases then we should encourage this harm reduction strategy. Teenagers are taking responsibility for their own health by exercising evidence-based informed choice.

Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs

Daily Express, 20th October 2003:

Dr Miriam Stoppard was quite correct to highlight the dangers of cannabis in her article Cannabis - The Pros and Cons. However she failed to point out that the risks involved in excessive cannabis use are considerably less than those for excessive use of the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco.

The highest legal authority on drug harm, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, has stated that tobacco "smoking kills about 120,000 people each year, and between 28,000 and 33,000 people die annually as a result of alcohol" and that "the high use of cannabis is not associated with major health problems for the individual or society."

Cannabis is a far safer alternative to the legal but lethal drugs that kill one in five people but are permitted to be sold alongside sweets for children.

Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs

New Scientist, 22nd November 2003:

Tam Dalyell seems all too willing to accept the Home Office's belief that heroin and cocaine are the most harmful drugs (8 November, p 51). I doubt he has seen any evidence that these illegal drugs are more harmful than the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco.

The World Health Organisation estimates that tobacco use contributes to 6% of deaths, alcohol 1.5% and illegal drugs a mere 0.2% of deaths. Of course tobacco use is more common than illegal drug use but only by a factor of about 6.

Our current discriminatory drug laws are based on prejudice rather than evidence. As a result the law misleads people - especially the young - into believing that legal drugs are safer than illegal drugs. This inevitably contributes to the death toll from alcohol and tobacco.

Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs

 

Support for cannabis - local papers

 

Bolton Evening News: 'Carry on, Chris', 12th November 2002

THE prosecution of MEP Chris Davies for possession of cannabis while campaigning for safer drug laws cannot be justified.

The law prohibits the use of the safest recreational drug known, cannabis, while allowing the most dangerous drug known, tobacco, to remain legal.

The Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs report "The classification of cannabis under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971" states: "The high use of cannabis is not associated with major health problems for the individual or society." The Government's Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health report 2001 says "Half of all regular smokers will eventually be killed by their habit if they continue to smoke."

Why this discrimination against minorities who use drugs safer than the legal ones? Mr Davies' courage should be applauded for his efforts.

Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs

Daily Post, North Wales: 'Anti-drug group backs cannabis', 9th September 2003

AN anti-drug group in North Wales last night voiced its support for a cannabis campaigner.
Jeff Ditchfield had planned to open a shop to help provide cannabis for pain relief.
But police with dogs searched the four- storey premises in Rhyl minutes before it was due to open on Saturday.

Last night, Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs (PALAD) spokesman Duncan Cameron, 44, of St Asaph said: "If permitted to remain open it will provide a great asset for the people of Rhyl.
"A survey published last year by the Disability Now journal suggested that a quarter of disabled people in Britain are taking cannabis with their doctors' approval. I just hope Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom shows some consideration

Mr Cameron said the group began as an informal group of parents concerned about the drug problems faced by children.
He said: "We decided to examine all recent Government reports to find out what was real ly going on and the evidence has forced us to make a U-turn in our own thinking about drug dangers.
"There can no longer be any doubt that tobacco is the most dangerous drug both in terms of addictiveness and likelihood of causing death.
"Even passive smoking kills as many as heroin. Alcohol is also more dangerous than the illegal drugs.
"We now accept that cannabis should be legalised. Cannabis stands out as considerably safer than other recreational drugs by any standard, especially if taken without smoking."

Worthing Herald, 18 September 2003:

Mr Stubbs need not be concerned that cannabis is causing an increase in psychiatric admissions (Real cost of cannabis, September 4). It seems more likely that sufferers from mental illness are increasingly using cannabis to treat their condition. Evidence of the drug's medicinal and stress relieving properties are becoming more widely known among patients and doctors alike.

According to a survey published by the journal Disability Now a quarter of disabled people in Britain are now taking cannabis with their doctors' approval. No one would consider that cannabis causes their physical disability. The company licensed to produce cannabis-based medicines is currently looking for people suffering from mental illness to become involved in clinical trials to find out if cannabis is indeed a safer alternative treatment to psychiatric drugs.

Parents Against Lethal Addictive Drugs

 

Daily Post, 12th March 2002: tongue-in-cheek letter, prior to PALAD's formation

Rhyl councillors are reasonably concerned about the consequences of the proposed cannabis cafe in the town. They would be wise to learn from the tragic experience of their counterparts in Gwynedd who, after years of dealing with thrill seekers endangering their lives, now not only encourage it but profit from it. Tens of thousands flock to Gwynedd every year to pursue their 'recreational activity', portrayed by shadowy national organisations as 'healthy' despite the deaths and many injuries every year.

Many users start by an apparently harmless trip to Betws-y-Coed or Llanberis, perhaps to experiment with 'getting high', but soon the dealers there have lured them into their premises where they are introduced to the paraphenalia associated with this irresponsible activity. Their first few visits to the dealers may be just for walking boots and waterproof coats, but displayed right next to these are the equipment required for the most dangerous of all 'recreational activities'. What started with a little recreational hill-walking at weekends may quickly lead to bungee-jumping and white-water rafting.

Gwynedd councillors failed to nip this pernicious evil in the bud and now they suffer the consequences. Perhaps the local economy has benefited but what of the cost in human suffering of allowing hill-walking to remain legal and the cost to the tax payer of the many rescues? Thankfully Rhyl is flat and so does not attract these reckless attempts to 'get high'. Supporters of the cannabis cafe in Rhyl predict a similar benefit to the local economy and point out how much safer their activity is than hill-walking, but surely exposing one's self to any risk is irresponsible? Once the cafe is stopped I hope Rhyl councillors will champion the call for prohibition of hill-walking throughout Wales.