24 Feb On the Rare Occasion That Peter Hitchens Quotes Evidence He Deserves A Response

Peter Hitchens Peter Hitchens

Peter Hitchens’ blog, 23rd February 2013.

The Irreversible, Profound Risks of Damage from Cannabis – an Expert Speaks

Here’s a fascinating extract from an article in today’s (23rd February 2013) ‘Times’ magazine, an article about Kuesnacht, a rehabilitation clinic for the super-rich in Zurich, by that interesting writer Robert Crampton. Much of its work involves helping people to stop taking ‘antidepressants’. Interesting, but not the point that leaps from the page.

The clinic’s founder, a Canadian doctor called Lowell Monkhouse, is quoted on the subject of cannabis. Alas, Dr Monkhouse uses the expression ‘addiction’ to refer to habitual use, but let that pass. Most people do, because it is generally accepted and unconsidered in a society which more or less denies the possibility of self-discipline.

One patient is said to be likely to spend the rest of his life in a secure psychiatric hospital. ‘”He had cannabis psychosis'” says Monkhouse, “We couldn’t help him'”.

‘The hardest addiction to break, he adds, is to cannabis. Cannabis – certain strains at least – is also the drug that can cause the most profound and the least reversible neurological damage, often quickly, often in very young and otherwise healthy adults. The drug many people think of as harmless can send you mad, swiftly and permanently’.

Note the words ‘most profound’, ‘least reversible’ , ‘swiftly’ and ‘permanently’. And this from a man whose lifelong trade has been treating drug abusers.

And still, a coalition of dupes and cynics campaigns for this drug to be on legal sale.

My Response

Peter, you quote one ‘expert” who, it would seem, relies for his income on gullible people believing the hysterical misinformation you publish.

Below I quote five experts who take a very different view. I also adduce the evidence that three million people in the UK use cannabis at least once per month and the UN estimates between 119 million and 224 million users worldwide aged 15-64. Despite this, rates of psychosis and schizophrenia worldwide are stable or declining.

“Cannabis is safe for over-18 brains, but risky for under-18 brains.” – Professor Terrie Moffitt, Institute of Psychiatry. August 2012

“Cannabis has been used safely for many thousands of years…there have been concerted efforts to demonise the drug’s use.” – Professor Tim Kirkham, psychologist, Liverpool University. 2007

“I don’t think it causes mental illness. I have never seen a case of so-called cannabis psychosis.” – Dr Trevor Turner, former vice president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. 2007

“I don’t see a lot of problem cannabis users…we’re not seeing a lot of cannabis users presenting for treatment.” – Dr Clare Gerada, chair, Royal College of General Practitioners. March 2012

“I think it is important to note that we cannot be certain that there is a causal link between cannabis use and psychosis.” – Professor Glyn Lewis, University of Bristol. March 2011

There is no doubt that cannabis can be harmful to the developing brain but for adults the risks are approximately equivalent to caffeine.

The concerted prejudice and misinformation about cannabis is funded mainly by the alcohol industry and promoted by an irresponsible and dishonest media that terrorises politicians into basing policy on propaganda rather than evidence.

In moderation, cannabis is in fact very good for most people acting as a supplement to the body’s endocannabinoid system and helping to maintain homeostasis.

Peanuts are a greater threat to public health than cannabis. It is ridiculous that we abandon our children to street dealers by refusing to take responsibility for this £6 billion market.

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