Serious Misinformation Published By ‘Scotland On Sunday’

    Kenny Farquharson, Editor, Scotland On Sunday







    Dear Mr Farquharson,

    I am the elected leader of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, a registered UK political party and the largest membership-based drug reform group in Britain.

    It was a grave error of judgement to publish the letter in today’s edition from David McEwan Hill which you have headlined “Cannabis responsible for millions of deaths”:

    Of course, I understand that the letter is an expression of opinion but presumably you would not publish a letter which claimed that paedophilia enhanced a child’s education or that husbands should beat their wives twice a week for a longer, happier marriage? Clearly in such instances, advancing ludicrous, unsustainable ideas, you would judge that it would be irresponsible to publish. This is exactly the level of absurdity and falsehood that Mr Hill’s letter about cannabis achieves.

    It is disgraceful that you should give space to an opinion which is based on lies and deceit and contradicts all scientific evidence and expert opinion.

    This is such a serious example of “inaccurate, misleading and distorted” information that we are considering a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. Even though you may defend it as opinion, a responsible publisher should have, at least, included a caution or warning to readers.

    However, I offer for publication below a letter which may serve to restore some balance.

    Yours faithfully,

    Peter Reynolds


    I refer to the letter from David McEwan Hill, headlined “Cannabis responsible for millions of deaths”.

    This letter is absolute and utter nonsense. These are the ramblings of a denier of science and fly in the face of all expert and scientific evidence. I am shocked that you should choose to give space to what is dangerous and irresponsible misinformation.

    There is no “epidemic of paranoid schizophrenia”. This is false. Schizophrenia rates have in fact been falling for the last 50 years.

    There is no evidence of any teenage suicide being “directly traced to cannabis use”. On the contrary, cannabis has been used as an antidepressant for thousands of years. Furthermore the introduction in 2006 of the anti-obesity drug rimonabant, a CB1 receptor blocker, led to a dramatic increase of suicides amongst users and it was withdrawn in 2008. Rimonabant works as “anti-cannabis” and demonstrates therefore the very positive, life enhancing effects of cannabis.

    Cannabis does not “desensitise users”. It does exactly the opposite, enhancing the senses. This is why people use it for pleasure.

    There is no evidence of cannabis users performing “acts of appalling violence without concern”, nor of aggression when ceasing use.

    Cannabis is not addictive in the way that people understand the word as is the case with drugs such as heroin or alcohol. There are no serious withdrawal symptoms nor threat to life from ceasing use which is what drives drug addicts to commit violent crime. However, approximately 9% of cannabis users do exhibit signs of a very mild dependency. Prevalence and withdrawal symptoms are approximately equivalent to caffeine dependence. (Hall et al 2001, Coffey et al 2002, Copeland et al 2004, DSM-IV)

    There is no evidence of cannabis causing “huge mood swings in users”.

    There are no “extra strong hallucinogenic strains now being used.” Although average THC content has increased two or three fold over the last 30 years, there have always been stronger varieties available and there has been no increase in mental health problems correlating with the change in average THC levels. In fact, users tend to use less of a stronger product just as no one drinks pints of whisky.

    There is no evidence that cannabis “demotivates at even low levels of use”.

    There is evidence that cannabis smoke contains more tar and carcinogens than tobacco but the largest case control study of its type (Tashkin 2006) showed that cannabis provides a protective effect against the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and those who smoke neat cannabis develop fewer cancers than those who smoke nothing at all. These results were confirmed by a 20 year longitudinal study reported in the AMA Journal in January 2012 which showed that even long term heavy use provided no reduction in or harm to lung function.

    There is no evidence of cannabis use being linked as a causal factor to “bowel and testicular cancer in young men.”.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion and freedom of expression is a fundamental right. However, it is deeply irresponsible of the Scotsman to provide space for this dangerous and wholly false nonsense.

    Peter Reynolds
    CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform

    • Sour Alien

      Modern day reefermadnesspropganda. You show em Peter, dont let these lying scumbags get away with it.

    • Jena Richeldis Parkin

      Very grateful that you have written in to combat this nonsense.

    • Cannabis For Autism

      Yes, where did all those hundreds of cannabis-induced-mental-illness-induced suicides per year go?

    • Gary Mcgillivray

      my hill is in need of some cannabis, it will help with his mental illness

    • rojon

      The more people wake up soon the better. There are supposed to be rules governing media lies……

    • Michael Murray

      “The unadjusted conditional ORs indicated that, in individuals who were cannabis dependent, the odds of MDD, suicidal ideation, and attempted suicide were 1.3 to 3.4 times higher than in their co-twins who were not cannabis dependent.”

      No evidence of suicide?

      The evidence in relation to depression is growing. A 15 year follow up of an adult community sample of 1920 participants in the United States showed that use of cannabis increased the risk of major depression at follow up fourfold.7 Use of cannabis was specifically associated with an increase in suicidal ideation and anhedonia. Similar findings in an Australian study reported in this issue (p1195) show a dose-effect relation between the use of cannabis and anxiety or depression in a large cohort of 14-15 year olds followed for seven years.

      BMJ. 2002 November 23; 325(7374): 1183–1184.

      PMCID: PMC1124674

      Cannabis and mental health

      More evidence establishes clear link between use of cannabis and psychiatric illness

      No evidence of depression?

      16,000 patients are currently receiving treatment for cannabis addiction

      Not addictive?

      As for being used for thousand of years – really? This is extraordinarily pathetic – if this was any kind of proof then we would still use human sacrifice to increase crop yields as this was also used for thousands of years.

    • Sour Alien

      Whats your point?

    • Sour Alien

      Wow Michael Murray seems to be a serious prohibitionist.

    • maxwood

      Re the title “Millions of deaths”– D. Bettcher of WHO (May 30, 2011) published an estimate of 6,000,000 deaths a year caused by “tobacco”–meaning really almost entirely HBOMS– Hot Burning Overdose Monoxide $igarettes. Let David McEwan Hill take issue with the suggestion that were cannabis legalised, and the legal risk of owning a vapouriser or one-hitter eliminated, millions of present-day tobacco $igarette smokers (at estimated 40% risk of premature death) might desert the 700-mg paper torch format and save their lives, or switch from tobacco to cannabis, and millions of young persons by using cannabis instead might escape the now acknowledged risks of being recruited into nicotine addiction.
      Michael Murray: “Use of cannabis increased the risk of major depression at follow up fourfold.” Wait a minute– with “use of cannabis” today goes “risk of discovery, reprimand, arrest, banning, expulsion, blacklisting” etc. all occurrences which could cause depression in the life of a young person.
      “16,000 patients are currently receiving treatment for cannabis addiction.” Doesn’t take into account how many thousands were brokered into accepting “treatment” as an alternative to incarceration.
      Fess up, Michael, does your institution receive any assistance from governments receiving $igarette tax revenue bonanza (Conflict of Interest)? Do you earn a buck/quid diagnosing youngsters terrorized by punitive law enforcement as cannabis-harmed?

    • John Shelton

      All these aspects need to be put into perspective with wider pros and cons. I would be sceptical about over reliance on a limited number of sources. Although statistically significant, there are a huge number of variables, things as seemingly as benign as living in towns & cities ( may be a factor in these conditions.

      What is the wider scientific view in relation to similar harmful activities? I am curious about comparisons with cannabis addicts (and cannabis alone) and alcoholics across the population along with relative harms? A regulated cannabis framework with emphasis on prevention and harm reduction rather than treating the symptoms is the the only real solution and the scientific consensus supports this.

      As for being used for thousands of years – yes, its a medicine. One far less harmful and effective than comparing weed to human sacrifice (?!?!?) .