Azara Blog: A minor blip in cannabis addiction in England

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Date published: 2008/01/11

The BBC says:

The number of adults seeking medical help for cannabis addiction has risen by 50% since Labour downgraded the drug, health authority figures show.

Over 16,500 adults sought treatment for cannabis use in England in 2006/7 compared with 11,057 two years earlier when the drug moved from Class B to C.

Currently 500 adults and children are being treated in England each week.

The Department of Health said the rise in treatment reflected improvements in drug treatment and not cannabis use.

But Marjorie Wallace of the mental health charity SANE said the reality was now that hospital beds were filling up with people suffering the effects of cannabis addiction, depriving others from treatment.
...
Marjorie Wallace, of the mental health charity SANE, said the figures were shocking, but not surprising.

She said: "The reality is now that hospital beds are filling up with people suffering the effects of cannabis addiction, depriving others from treatment.

"SANE been saying for years that cannabis is a dangerous drug; for some young people regular use can double the risk of developing later schizophrenia.

"You only need to see one person whose mind has been distorted and life irreparably damaged, or talk to their family, to realise that the headlines are not scaremongering but reflect daily, and preventable, tragedies."

The government might be lying when it claims "the rise in treatment reflected improvements in drug treatment not cannabis use" but that seems far and away the most plausible explanation. Some of these people might even be willing to seek help now exactly because using the drug is slightly less illegal now, so will attract less attention from the police.

And Wallace is unbelievable. She is allegedly concerned about these people (that's one of the points of her charity) but her real, horrible, view comes through with the statement that: "The reality is now that hospital beds are filling up with people suffering the effects of cannabis addiction, depriving others from treatment." So she thinks these victims are "depriving" others of treatment, does she? Perhaps she will give us the list of diseases and illnesses she officially approves being treated by the NHS. SANE is evidently not a very sane organisation.

All in all, 16500 people is not a heck of a big number under any reckoning. Why should millions of people be criminalised just because a few thousand people cannot cope? Indeed, the number of people who would positively benefit from the medical use of cannabis is almost certainly much greater than the number of people who suffer serious negative consequences from using it.

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