28 May Lancashire Constabulary Issues Apology In Response To CLEAR Complaint

Back in March, Sgt. Scott Archer of Lancashire police was quoted in his local newspaper promoting that now familiar myth: the smell of cannabis “is carcinogenic”.

So absurd is this idea that you would have thought anyone bright enough to be a police officer would not be taken in. So the alternative is that this misinformation is deliberately spread in a very nasty way to try and frighten people. On the other hand, it is commonplace for the police to use masks, gloves and protective clothing when dealing with cannabis farms as if they are likely to be contaminated or even get high from handling plants. Maybe coppers aren’t that bright after all?

CLEAR made a formal complaint to the professional standards department of Lancashire Constabulary which has now been resolved by the publication of a letter in the Lancashire Evening Post from Inspector Steve Anderton.

I am very grateful to Dr David Potter, Director of Botanical Research and Cultivation

“I am happy to confirm that cannabis plants, in their natural state, do not emit any carcinogenic agent.

They do contain a number of volatile essential oils. The vapours from these are also common in a range of culinary herbs. They are harmless in the concentrations found at crime scenes – although they can prove unpleasant at times.”

Of course, the facts are that cannabis cannot get you high until the THCA, which exists naturally in the plant, is decarboxylated into THC which requires it to be heated, either by smoking, vapourising or cooking. Also, the smell of cannabis comes not from cannabinoids, which are odourless, but from terpenes which, as Dr Potter points out, are present in many other plants. Regularly, moss phlox, a common, flowering ground cover plant, causes ructions amongst gardeners and police officers because it contains some of the same terpenes as cannabis.

The myth of the smell of cannabis being carcinogenic originally came to light in Northamptonshire in 2012. Apparently it was circulating on some police intranet or forum. We managed to get an apology published on that occasion as well so hopefully this scare story has now been laid to rest permanently…watch this space!