The cannabis laws have been misunderstood by many people for many years now. At the time of going to press (November, 2008), the plant remains a class C drug. The government now has plans to re-categorise it back to Class B.
This move goes against both leading scientists and MPs who have criticised the plans, arguing the decision ignores the opinions of experts.
The main reason for the move is due to public concern over skunk, a stronger strain of the drug which dominates the UK market. Skunk is now responsible for approximately 70-80pc of the UK cannabis market, a huge rise from just 15pc six years ago.
Skunk (or sinsemilla) has higher amounts of the active ingredient, THC than the weaker resin form of the drug. An expert from the Forensic Science Service (FSS) noted the THC content in skunk has risen from 6pc in 1995 to 14pc in 2005.
So users are getting a stronger high than ever before, but not without warnings from medical officials. Skunk also contains less cannabidiol (CBD), the anti-psychotic substance which moderates the effect of THC on the psyche of the user.
Whilst it is widely agreed and recognised the plant is now stronger and potentially more dangerous to users, there is evidence that cannabis can be of huge medical help to suffers of conditions including arthritis, glaucoma and cataracts.
And this forms the grounds on which scientists argue their case.
Cannabis potentially has the chance to alleviate the pain of many suffering patients the world over, if only the government dropped their stance on the drug. It can be made in tablet form to rule out any adverse smoking related side effects and in doing so, alleviates most side effects in their entirety.
Diclofenac, for example, is an extremely strong anti-inflamotary drug prescribed by doctors to patients with a vast array of symptoms. A very effective choice, but one that can leave the patient feeling nauseous, dizzy and unable to continue their daily routine.
Cannabis, on the other hand, alleviates distress with minimal side effects to the individual.
Aside from the medical benefits of Britain’s favourite recreational drug, there are other worries surrounding the reclassification.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) states that if Cannabis is reclassified back to a class B drug, said reclassification could be “very damaging” to the downward trend of the drug’s use.
The ACMD continued: “Cannabis use has fallen in recent years, especially following its downgrading to class C in 2004 and it is obviously unwise to risk reversing that trend. The classification system must be credible… reclassification would send out an ambiguous message about the dangers of current class B drugs.”
If cannabis was moved to class B status, users could face up to five years imprisonment with a maximum sentence of 14 years behind bars for dealers.
Other class B drugs include amphetamines and barbiturates.
So whilst it is widely agreed that skunk is the more dominant drug of choice for Brits, there is evidence that suggests usage is falling in the UK. As a result, is there really any need to confuse people further with reclassifications? I think not.
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