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Cannabis matters

Nick Robinson | 13:50 UK time, Thursday, 19 July 2007

The home secretaryNewsrooms across London are filled with the sound of a lively debate about how much the home secretary's "confession" to using cannabis matters. Some argue that no one cares anymore. Others that many beyond the liberal metropolitan set do care passionately. Some that it shows she's in touch. Others that she's a hypocrite.

The polls taken after the repeated speculation about David Cameron's drug use tells us the answer.

A Populus survey for the Times in February found that 81% thought that drug use at school or university by politicians did not matter.

A higher proportion - 85% - agreed that MPs should not have to answer questions about such activity because politicians were entitled to "have made mistakes when they were growing up".

The polls are less clear about harder drug use. Populus found that almost two thirds (64%) said it would matter if "more serious" drugs were involved and 71% would be concerned if any drug use had carried on into working life. However, an ICM poll for BBC's Newsnight suggested it would make no difference to two thirds of voters (66%) if the leader of the Conservatives had used cocaine at some point in the past. 28% of the sample said they'd be less likely to vote Conservative if they knew the party leader had used the drug.

Younger voters and men were more tolerant of past drug taking by politicians.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 02:09 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Doug wrote:

Yet another non news story from the 24-hour 'make anything a story and drag it out until it's dead' media. Find me a MP that DIDN'T take cannabis whilst at University - that would at least be vaguely interesting.

  • 2.
  • At 02:23 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Charles E Hardwidge wrote:

More froth.

I think, the Home Secretary's "confession" is a little hesitant and, merely, one persons experience. I've no problem with people using or having used drugs. It's problem usage or the trouble that flows from prohibition or poor treatment that bugs me.

I'll add prostitution to the list. They form a function but quality standards and career path are a bit limited. Sex, like drugs, is fun but poor regulation ruins product, distorts markets, and puts it outside the reach of law and taxation. It's all a bit dumb, really.

Any person, organisation, or state that doesn't form regulation around the reality of human nature and the nature world is doomed to failure. Trying to control the uncontrollable is a waste of time, gets people confused, and works up a sweat. Why do it?

In other news, Africa just created its first narco state to go with the human trafficking problem. I'm pretty sure sound regulation and more balanced attitudes could help improve things and remove the criminal element. Less misery, more happiness. Sounds good.

Next problem…

  • 3.
  • At 02:27 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • SM wrote:

Is this REALLY news? who hasn't tried cannabis....not just politicians, but generally. Can we have some REAL news please?

  • 4.
  • At 02:35 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Stephen Richards wrote:

Will the charmless Dennis Skinner, now re-direct his continual anti-drugs rants from Cameron to his own Home Secretary? I think we should be told...

  • 5.
  • At 02:39 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Roger Clewlow wrote:

I think it's an absolue disgrace and she should resign NOW.
I was brought up in the swinging 60's but was never ever tempted - I had some self-discipline as drugs are EVIL.

Am I the only one concerned that this could be cover for a "bury bad news" day, or worse if the Labour Party do badly in either by-election, or am I just being cynical?

  • 7.
  • At 02:46 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Robin Madeley wrote:

Far more amusing was DC's discussion about the differences between skunk nd 'regular' cannabis, as shown on newsnight (Wed 18th July). he got halfway through before realising he was just about to explain how he had any expereince of 'regular' canabis...

  • 8.
  • At 02:51 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • James wrote:

I particularly like the old chestnut 'cannabis back then was so much weaker than it is today' that raises its head every time an MP makes an admission of this kind. As if they knew at the the time that it was weaker than it would be in 20 years so 'it doesnt really matter' Where is the moral standpoint in that? Surely its the the fact the MP took the decision to smoke cannabis in the first place that really matters in this debate, not the strength of the particular batch. Whether it is relevent at all is another matter. As a recreational cannabis user for 20 years whose life has patently not been destroyed by the weed, I couldn't personally care less whether an MP, the Pope, the Queen or anyone else has enjoyed a puff or not. There are far too many unreasonable laws in this country nowadays and the age old criminalisation of people who want to enjoy a smoke in their home is definately one of them. Soon I won't even be able to have a cigarette anywhere but under my duvet. Is that reasonable? NO.

  • 9.
  • At 02:58 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Hyder Ali Pirwany wrote:

Bill Clinton confessed to smoking while he was at Oxford. It didn't do him any harm. He became one of the best and the most respected Presidents of the United States.

  • 10.
  • At 02:59 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Edward wrote:

*Yawn* Why is this even being made a story? Are politicians not allowed to live a little? No doubt they didn't always think about a future in polictics and self censored their actions in school or university.

This should be positive not negative, it shows the people in charge were not always grasping for power and public opinion and actually experiencing the lives they seek to govern.

  • 11.
  • At 03:03 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Kendrick Curtis wrote:

What I'd like to see politicians doing is drawing a link between all these politicians who have smoked cannabis and turned out generally alright (aside from being politicians! But you wouldn't have thought that would prejudice them) and the idea that cannabis really isn't that bad.

Hopefully MP's will get the opportunity to grill the BBC over drug-use among its staff; especially segement-producers for TV and radio programmes with a phone-in element or pre-recorded "live" broadcasts. I'm not sure how else some of these editorial decisions would get through...

  • 13.
  • At 03:05 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Geoff Bull wrote:

Another flawed role model in a top job. No wonder the other criminals do'nt worry about law and order when the lawmakers have already done that.Literally the lunatics running the asylum.

  • 14.
  • At 03:05 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Cannabis and mental illness? Possibly, but how about a comprehensive, representative study instead of flawed tests using flawed sample groups?

Cannabis can be beneficial, like alcohol and prescription drugs. All of them have side effects.

We could worry instead about whether politicians can actually do their jobs. They have plenty of failings that make more of a difference to the country than getting high when they were at University 20 years ago.

We could concentrate on drugs that really do wreck lives - crack, heroin or alcohol for example.

We could also try and address other issues like homelessness, national health and education.

Or we could sit about in a pointless debate that wastes energy and money when there are far more important things that deserve our attention.

  • 15.
  • At 03:11 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Ric Ohge wrote:

Whether or not Cannabis is "dangerous" is STILL a matter of debate...give the right researcers enough money and incentive, they'll produce whatever result you want...we've been raising that to an art form in the US for decades.
Conservative does not mean rigidly moralistic...this costs absurd amounts of money and produces profitable black markets. If someone wants to keep the "spectre" of alternate points of view from creating confrontation and discomfort in public venues-that's one thing, that's keeping the peace.
Your "ologies" or "isms" shouldn't be creating laws, but setting examples.
Sorry, even if Cannabis IS a potential health issue...that's YOUR own business. The Government as the NANNY is not only NOT CONSERVATIVE...but frankly, the world can no longer afford it.

  • 16.
  • At 03:12 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

It's fairly obvious the new Home Secretary wants to send out a message that she fits squarely into the New Labour Neo-Puritan ideology. No Home Secretary ever got fired for announcing a crackdown on something (doesn't really matter what). Gambling, dope, fags so far - can't be long before drink, videogames and smutty books are on the agenda. It's always a useful distraction to keep journalists off the real problems the Government isn't solving, like housing, the NHS and Iraq.

  • 17.
  • At 03:26 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Joseph Ward wrote:

It's stupid to put chemicals in your body that are potentially harmful to you but it's also pretty foolish in my opinion to make the act illegal !! ... why ? ... Firstly, because you cannot enforce it ... no more than you can make people eat less chocolate or crisps ... people will choose for themselves how they live their lives and how they treat their bodies ... you can only help and inform people about the facts on healthy happy ways to live ... whether they choose to live that way is their choice !!

we all make our own choices and we all make mistakes ! ... even our wise and insightful leaders !!

So if you can't make it illegal what should happen ?? ... I believe the government should inform and educate people based on the facts ... i.e vegetables are good for you because they give you essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs - you should eat 5 pieces of fruit and veg a day ...

cannabis is a stimulant that can be used orally or smoked with tobacco ... It comes in several different forms depending on the type of canabis ... The main reaction people have to Canabis is that it relaxes you and can make you feel extremely happy, content or euphoric. It can help relieve pain and/or stress and is therefore an enjoyable experience for those who use it. It also makes some people feel more open, artistic and sociable ... People who use this drug for long periods of time can develop mental health problems including loss of memory, paranoia, mood swings and depression or potentially more serious mental problems, particularly if using stronger strains such as skunk on a regular basis ... You should be aware that this substance does not affect everyone in the same way and some people can use it recreationally without any problems ... it has not been clinically proven but people with a history of mental illness in their family are wise not to use canabis as they may be more susceptable to problems with the drug ... there are several different strains of canabis some much stronger than others so users are advised to be aware of the type of canabis and amount of the drug they are using ...

Canabis can be addictive as it often takes larger and larger amounts of the drug as the user builds up tolerance ... the other addictive side of this drug is the fact that it's side effects ( depression and mood swings ) can entice the user into using increasing amounts ...

If only the government and the media told people the facts !

knowledge is power !

  • 18.
  • At 03:36 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Robert Sala wrote:

Just waiting for a politican to say that they took it more than a couple of times and enjoyed it,now that would be news

  • 19.
  • At 03:40 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Dee wrote:

We're missing the point here, surely Cannabis is legal or illegal.
The suggesting from some people that it is harmless is irrelevant.
I was however amused at one politician today who said that everyone at Oxford smoked cannabis in his day. Did journalists go to Oxford Nick?

  • 20.
  • At 03:42 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Dick Wijfje wrote:

I do not smoke; neither cigarettes nor cannabis. Tried both twice and wasn't impressed. Don't drink either; I just don't like alcohol.

I do firmly believe however in the dutch policy which makes difference between hard and softdrugs; it keeps the number of people that use drugs (and drink alcohol by the way) at a lower level than the UK. That is valid for both soft and hard drugs. So I suggest you allow the Home Secretary the smoke she had in her youth. I won't even begrudge her the joint today.

  • 21.
  • At 03:45 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Winston Chim wrote:

Well well ... home secretary taking drugs. Smoking cannabis is no different from taking any hard drugs. ALL drugs, whether class A, B or C, come from CRIMINALS that prey on the poor and desparate (drug money sponsors piracy, terrorism and people trafficking). How can you run a country with people that don't even think about the consequences of their actions. SHAME SHAME SHAME !!!

  • 22.
  • At 03:49 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • sketch wrote:

Just a quick point. Are there any politicians who had more than just a puff or two. Any who actually enjoyed the experience. Everyone of them who has admitted to smoking the drug tempers their revelation with the same rubbish. If the politicos experiences were replicated there'd be no older cannabis smokers at all.

  • 23.
  • At 03:52 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Tony Smales wrote:

Can I just point out that these 'new stronger strains' have actually been around since the late 80's, so that is a few decades before they changed the laws.

  • 24.
  • At 04:00 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Disco Stu wrote:

If the government really want youngsters to stop smoking dope, then Gordon Brown should admit to having taken it. "Hey kids, smoke pot and you could grow up like me". They'll abandon it in their droves!

On a more serious note, have our government got nothing more important to worry about? I had no idea that Britain had become such a utopia since GB took over, that the government can afford to waste god knows how much taxpayers money on deciding on how to classify something so trivial.

What next, a focus group to discuss the pro's and cons of GB putting his socks in the 2nd or 3rd drawer of his bedroom chest of drawers?

  • 25.
  • At 04:04 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Matt Llewyln wrote:

If it is true, as you say in your blog, that 81% thought that drug use at school or university by politicians did not matter, then why on earth did you have to write about it? Who actually cares what they did? What matters is what they do now and in the future!

Try to find something more interesting to write about. Not somehting you know people aren't interested in!

Main news headline:
Home Secretary smoked spliff 25 years ago.

Non-news non-headline:
Postal vote leak, breaching the Representation of the People Act at the Ealing Southall bye-election.
Police investigating.

  • 27.
  • At 04:14 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • The Rev. Daniel Beegan wrote:

I could care less that Ms. Smith smoked cannabis at university. So did I in the 1960's. I don't use the drug any more, and I firmly believe Ms. Smith when she says the same.
Let her get on with her job.

  • 28.
  • At 04:19 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Sandra M wrote:

One of the arguments used against cannabis is that users can develop mental health problems.

As politicians seem to be in a confessing mode about cannabis, perhaps politicans ought to confess if they have ever taken prescriptions drugs for mental health problems? I would be more concerned if a senior member of the government had had lengthy treatment involving anti-depressants or anti-psychotic drugs, rather than a member of the Cabinet smoked a joint at University 25 years ago.

  • 29.
  • At 04:28 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Dick Wijfje wrote:

Perhaps a bit more in reaction to mr. Chin. You will hear me say nothing in defense of hard drugs. However if you criminalize traffic/growing and use of drugs then it is no wonder it ends up with a lot of criminals doing that. It's the same as realizing that so many foreigners are in contact with the police. The immigration police.

There are a lot of things detrimental to human constitution. One should look at what happened after the prohibition of alcohol in the US for the 'beneficial' effects of forbidding without thinking.

  • 30.
  • At 04:33 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Yannis G wrote:

Stress causes mental illness. Wars cause mental illness. Maybe these should be penalized too!

  • 31.
  • At 04:36 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • sandymac wrote:

Who cares what she smoked 25years ago, this is a no news nonsense. #16 Andrew, are you suggesting that journalists do not report what the public want to know?

  • 32.
  • At 04:51 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

If you'll pardon the pun all this is a smokescreen. Policy on drugs of whatever class is entirely flawed and a wholesale failure. What is needed - but nobody in government or aspiring to government dare accept or allow into the public domain is that prohibition is a failed approach. Control and regualtion of distribution - nationalisation if you like - has to be seriously considered so that quality can be managed, the dealers are taken out of the equation, and any rsurplus earned is ploughed straight back into education and research to how to prevent drugs becoming adopted in the first place.

  • 33.
  • At 05:04 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • md wrote:

What should be news, instead of this utter froth, is the continued incoherence of the governments drug policies.

  • 34.
  • At 05:10 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Neil S wrote:

Interestingly they all say " i only had a few puffs " - more spin ?

  • 35.
  • At 05:12 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Tabitha wrote:

Who cares. What she did when she was young has no basis now. Everyone does things when they are young, it shoudn't matter if later on whether they politicans, federal officals, or just your run of the mill average joe. Seriously the media really needs to find more stuff to report about than this useless information.

  • 36.
  • At 05:12 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Dan G wrote:

The politicians who haven't tried it should be forced to. Why condemn the use of something they have no clue about. The politicians who have done it don't seem to have done that badly in life ie. running the country. However, had they tried heroin or any other actual drugs, their future could've turned out quite different. Lay off grass and start cracking down on actual drugs!

  • 37.
  • At 05:15 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • neal wright wrote:

Gross hypocrisy - do as I say not as I do!

Are we going to see retrospective prosecutions using their own admissions as evidence?

If not then why should any young person today be prosecuted?

  • 38.
  • At 05:15 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Gary Ponsford wrote:

I really dont think it matters that Jacqui Smith took Cannabis 25 YEARS AGO. It will give her more credability to talk on the subject, give her chance to do her job.

  • 39.
  • At 05:18 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Ken Croucher wrote:

I for one really do not care whether anyone has tried / used soft drugs in their youth. But I would like to know how many senior public figures are alcoholic or habitual users of the sex industry or of "hard" drugs. Bet we can't find out!!

  • 40.
  • At 05:22 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • dvdmmail wrote:

I can see the headline now: "Politican exposed as hypocrite shock." That certainly isn't news, is it? We seem to have reached the point where we are all supposed to just agree that what politicians do, and what they tell us to do, are two different things. These hypocrites tell us not to do what they did, they expect to get away with it, and BBC journalists run around digging up polls to "prove" that everybody thinks it's okay, so it must be okay! In actual fact, it's not okay. Let me make it clear why: most "ordinary" people have more integrity in their little fingers than politicians have in their whole bodies. Go ahead and publish that Nick! I bet you haven't got the guts.

  • 41.
  • At 05:23 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • David Heffron wrote:

All these Ministers only took it once or twice and didn't enjoy it. Obviously they were doing it wrong.
Why admit to taking a pityingly small aount of drugs at all then. Wouldn't it be more honest for an MP to say "Yeah, I smoked a bit of hash at uni, and it was great. It makes you fell really good and funny and relaxed".
To say that they didn't enjoy themselves contradicts the fact that drugs are very popular. While a minorty of people are addicted to harder lines drugs like herion, the relaxed use of a few joints at the weekend is a reality for thousands.

  • 42.
  • At 05:23 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • j wrote:

To 21) If cannibis were made legal and regulated per the gov't, then you'd know where the money is going. It's a huge industry and it only makes sense to legalise it; why allow this money to fall into these criminals hands when it could go towards community/education programs? Levy a tax like tobacco, make it legal, and the black market goes away

  • 43.
  • At 05:27 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

"cannabis is a stimulant that can be used orally or smoked with tobacco ..."

It's a hallucinogen.

Hey, what do you know, knowledge is power!

  • 44.
  • At 05:30 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Mike Lowe wrote:

Yet again another politician who admits to having 'a few puffs' but 'didn't really enjoy it' and thinks it was 'a wrong thing to do'.

What a load of old rubbish - I want my politicians to say that they smoked cannabis before, had a brilliant time, laughed their heads off and ate lots of pizza! ... and then say something like - 'well I just went through a phase and grew out of it.' That's what it's like for most of us!

  • 45.
  • At 05:32 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Simon Stockill wrote:

The more politicians, and other old farts, who admit to drug use the better...it'll soon be so uncool that no self-respecting young person will want to smoke dope any more!

  • 46.
  • At 05:38 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Nick M wrote:

Sandra, don't be so silly.

Millions of Brits have been on anti-depressant medication in the past, used it to sort their heads out and then got on with their lives.

Why would an MP be unable to do their job properly just because they took some pills which helped them through a period of sadness whilst younger?

I took Prozac for over a year when I was depressed. I'm 100% fine now and wouldn't appreciate the 'concerned' judgements of people like you who don't know me.

  • 47.
  • At 05:41 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • John Stewart wrote:

Some interesting strands of comment here, from the absolutist 'all drugs come from criminals' to the bored 'why is this news?'.

I think it is important to know our politicians views and experiences. They represent our interests, after all. Personally i see little more than another empty gesture from Brown - this time to the right rather than the left (as in the proposed constitutional reforms), based on little more than focus grouping and reflecting to the electorate what they are currently concerned about.

While i believe in a certain amount of libertarian principle, drugs are a problem. They are not evil, but many of the people who sell them are organised criminals who make lots of illegal money on a black market that will never be controlled until drugs like cannabis are brought under government regulation, which, unfortunately for those without experience of urban social problems and a nostalgic longing for Old-England, means legalisation. This does not mean they should be available on every street corner, but it means properly regulated places to buy drugs in regulated quantities.

Drugs become a problem, socially and physically, when you have criminals selling degraded products to underage kids who don't know what they're buying. As far as i'm aware from talking to friends who work as nurses or in GPs clinics, many of the current health risks from cannabis come from cannabis resin cut with other products that are extremely harmful to smoke. People would not buy from criminals if there were legitimate places to buy the drug, which is why so many people now grow it themselves.

Some of those with their heads in the sand may not know that methadone is available on presciption for heroin addicts already. This is a much better state of affairs than having people self medicate with harmful heroin bought from criminals. Many people have problems with cannabis because they already have psychological problems and become dependant on cannabis to run away from their other problems. Cannabis, in my opinion, is never a primary cause of what people ignorantly refer to as 'psychosis', which is not a real medical condition but a catch-all for deeper psychological problems.

A little less sensational pandering to the red-tops and a little more pragmatic policy, please.

  • 48.
  • At 05:42 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • lee wrote:

perhaps while these ministers are considering the reappraisal of cannabis classification...
they ought to reflect on how their prospects might have been changed and how their lives may have turned out,if when they were young,they had been caught and prosecuted for the "one or two joints" that they smoked while at university.

  • 49.
  • At 05:46 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Matthew H wrote:

Some of the responses posted here are deeply irresponsible. The apparent 'casual' attitude dismissing this story as 'non-news' and 'no big deal because everyone has tried it' displayed here. Firstly, the facts-rather than opinions-actually show that not everyone has tried cannabis. Secondly, by dismissing this illegal act as irrelevant is opening the way for legalisation of cannabis for recreational use, and, more importantly, endorsing the production and development of cannabis as a commercial crop (Hemp) that has the ultimate output of profiting from the damage that cannabis use can do to a person, in a way that would make the tobacco industry's activities look positively healthy. The home secretary should resign along with the rest of them who have admitted to breaking the law. I spent 7 years at university, and work in one now, but I have never tried it and few do.

  • 50.
  • At 05:49 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Colin Robinson wrote:


Im glad the home secretary has had the decency to be open about this subject, and do you know what? I think she'll probably get a lot of respect for it.

I doubt thats the whole story though.

Whats most intriguing (and really politically clever about all these confessions) is how quiet David Cameron and his chums are being about the whole thing.

I think we all know the answer to that don't we?

  • 51.
  • At 05:50 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Ben Pavey wrote:

What I'm wondering is when people will admit that the law isn't working when it come to cannabis and if, many people, including people who run the country, have ignored the law then maybe that law is outdated and should be changed.

Also when will there be a politician who has the balls to ask the question "How can we make any arguement against the legalization of cannabis while alcohol is still legal?"

The second one is one that I need the answer to. Hint: the only answer is social acceptance.

  • 52.
  • At 05:55 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Peter Cunningham wrote:

The fact remains that a great deal of todays cabinet have committed a criminal offence. If any other public servant committed a criminal offence, it is save to assume that their employment as a public servant would come to an end.

  • 53.
  • At 05:56 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

Never smoked. Never taken any drug apart from alcohol - and I stopped that 5 years ago.

The nub of this debate ought to be about breaking the law and not whether one can make mistakes in youth. Are we to understand that it is "OK" to have experimented with cannabis in one's youth - no one cares so let's move on?

If that is the case, is it OK to have driven while drunk 25 years ago?

Is it OK to have stolen a few bars of chocolate from a shop 25 years ago?

How about assault, date rape, etc etc.

At what point do past misdemeanours stop being OK? If cannabis use 25 years ago is not so terrible, why is it illegal now? Why reclassify it?

The debate will never occur because no one cares, which means they may as well legalise it and tax it. At least the new anti-smoking laws mean we non-smokers will only have to suffer it in the open air!

  • 54.
  • At 05:56 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • John wrote:

Perhaps Winston Chim should ask himself whether he has ever done anything that might have - in some small way - assisted the criminal fraternity. I am absolutely certain he has. In fact, I'd be 99% certain he has committed a criminal act at some point in his life. It's too easy to be censorious. Let's try instead being realistic.

All "recreational drugs" can be harmful - including as we know alcohol and tobacco. But people like using them. And provided they know the risks, and their taking them doesn't directly harm others, there is no justification whatsoever for the government stopping them from doing so.

But because they can be harmful, their production and distribution should be carefully controlled to ensure that harmful components are minimised, that users are made fully aware of the risks and can be given help if needed, and to get the criminal element out of the picture.

So possession and use should be legal, but supply without a licence should be a criminal offence and dealt with very severely.

But if you could buy your cannabis or ecstasy at Boots, who on earth would go to a back-street dealer?

And the tax revenue could fund some really effective treatment programmes.

  • 55.
  • At 05:57 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Quote from Joseph Ward

"Canabis can be addictive as it often takes larger and larger amounts of the drug as the user builds up tolerance ...
If only the government and the media told people the facts !

knowledge is power !"

Yours was a good post in the main but what I have quoted is totally incorrect. Using more does not mean an addiction. Knowledge is power (when you have it!) and BTW if the government or the media gave the people the unembellished facts (on anything), that would be a first!

  • 56.
  • At 06:07 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Stephen Carr wrote:

Seriously do people think that all those years ago they should have thought "mustn't smoke this joint, I might be Home Secretary in 20 years time. Get a life

  • 57.
  • At 06:09 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Ken wrote:

Good for you girl. When will politicians wake up to the fact that we have moved on from their nannying on Cannabis? The British people have educated themselves and see a more benign 'drug' than alcohol and tobacco. More than ever people feel the need for the relaxation it gives and rather a joint than other prescription drugs.
I'm a married professional engineer and a mild useer for 30 years. Never used harder drugs and still fit and healthy. Class B, hahahaha. We laugh at you.

  • 58.
  • At 06:12 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Adrian wrote:

The real issue is that of hypocrisy: that politicians who have taken illegal substances wish to punish others for doing what they themselves once did.

The Home Secretray believes in a law which would give a young person, if caught and convicted, a criminal record that would bar them from becoming a politician, a Home Secretary.

The honourable thing to do is either resign, or change the laws to decriminalise 'illicit' drugs.

But then, that will never happen - if they didn't insist we call them 'Honourable' ladies and gentlemen, it would never occur to us to do so, on our own.

  • 59.
  • At 06:15 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

In the real world, aside from the 2 hard core Right Wing Nutters above, this show of hypocrisy is not a vote winner. ("It was alright for me but not for people today" - yawn).
Police time is wasted criminalising normal people. Alcohol is worse, without doubt.
Focus on housing and the NHS.
If you want to tackle the drugs issue then regulate the quality of all drugs and sell them in a controlled manner like alcohol and cigarettes. Tax them and put the money towards civic priorities (including rehab centres) rather than letting the criminals profit. Let the police track terrorists instead.

  • 60.
  • At 06:18 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Paul Dockree wrote:

Jacqui Smith playing Kirk Douglas? That famous scene from SPartacus comes to mind with other ministers popping up and claiming only THEY smoked the REAL Cannabis!

Didn't they all get crucified (in the film I mean?)?

  • 61.
  • At 06:22 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

I am sure many people of a certain generation experimented with Drugs and I do not have an issue with that, however what I object to is that these people that have admitted as such are deciding on penalties and punishments for those that may try it today.. if you want fairness, any MP that has admitted smoking cannabis or who indeed smokes should be banned from participating in any vote related to the subject!!!!

  • 62.
  • At 06:26 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • humble.life wrote:

And the difference between Cannabinol and THC is?

The difference between "taking" and "smoking" Cannabis is?

The trouble with saying A is next to B therefore A causes B is?

Come on people. Loose the tickbox mentality, we have NOT come from an angelic world that got corrupted.

Check your own paranoia.

  • 63.
  • At 06:30 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • J Thomas wrote:

Cannabis should be legalised and its quality controlled, elimating "stronger strains"

The real problem in this country which RUINS lives of users and the people around them is "crack cocaine and heroin"

...These drugs plague and destroy neighbourhoods and communities.

  • 64.
  • At 06:33 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

Such confessions may not make much difference when the government was pursuing a liberalising agenda on drugs which the majority of the population appear to support. However, under Gordon Brown's new Puritanism (note this is only a week after the decision not to further deregulate gambling) these ministers start to look pretty hypocritical.

  • 65.
  • At 06:36 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Greg wrote:

Nice to see the majority of people taking an informed logical view on cannabis. It seems most people these days have a liberal view on the drug while politicians are condemning it and threatening to create punishments for possession. Surely in our "democratic" society the views of most people are what should set the precedent rather than those of misguided MPs looking for headlines.

I am myself a smoker and only started after doing a lot of research into the drug and it's side effects, all the studies prove inconclusive due to the test subjects who show negative side effects (for the most part) being those who engage in other "harder" drugs.

I continually hope for a society where cannabis and alcohol (a drug i personally do not enjoy) are looked at in the same way but it certainly doesn't look like the UK will be going that way anytime soon.

  • 66.
  • At 06:48 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • George Madden wrote:

Whether or not you see cannabis use as important, there is a problem with the Home Secretary admitting to taking cannabis with a silly smirk on her face:

The whole point of upgrading cannabis is to send out the message that it is NOT harmless.

Jacqui Smith now has to send out this message. She can hardly do it convincingly while implying that there was nothing wrong with doing it herself.

MPs should all agree to not discuss any drug use that took place before they came to Parliament. That way these stories will not dilute this important issue.

  • 67.
  • At 06:53 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

So...several polititians on all sides of the
government have 'tried' cannabis. My question is this, would they be in the positions of power they are holding now had they been criminalised for doing so, and having recieved a criminal record for 'trying' this plant?

  • 68.
  • At 06:59 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

I agree with some of the earlier comments. This is a story that has been blown out of all proportion when the real news is elsewhere.

I understand that our politicians have to appear 'whiter than white', particularly those in the Home Office, but I still respect them more for being honest. It's one thing to admit drug-taking/addiction in office - then they are hypocrits and unfit to hold power. However it's another matter if their experience with a 'soft' drug is brief and from several decades ago outside of political life. If everyone was villified for such 'mistakes' the world would be a sad place.

For example many BBC employees wouldn't say no to the occasional toke/snort but as long as they make quality programmes I couldn't care less. Or put another way - think of the childrens programmes that we would have missed out on if it weren't for the waccy baccy??

  • 69.
  • At 07:05 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Arthur Crown wrote:

Oh, I see. So Genghis Khan could be forgiven his odd couple of misdemeanours had they occurred whilst he was at university?

Either we have laws in this country or we do not, and it would be nice if this current batch of hapless politicians could make up their minds one way or the other.

What is becoming more and more apparent is that being a student is, and always has been, not only a passport to doss around for about three years, but also an exemption certificate for complying with the laws of the land, to which lesser working mortals are expected to adhere rigidly.

  • 70.
  • At 07:10 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Carefully coordinated Cabinet Ministers' confession fest = Weapons of Mass Distraction.

  • 71.
  • At 07:17 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Bernhard wrote:

The link between mental illness and cannabis use is not proven and it should be taken into consideration that those who are willing to break the law in order to enjoy cannabis are arguably bigger risk takers. Those elements of society are possibly already more likely to deviate from the average gauge of sanity (if there is such a thing). Thus examining merely those who already take the drug constitutes a very poor sampling technique which does not represent society as a whole and therefore does not tell us the entire story of any adverse effects cannabis use might have. On this point I am even more so surprised that hardly any word is spoken about the known effects of alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant people who consume it excessively are highly likely to either become depressed (this should not be news to anyone, however in this case I feel it is worth repeating) or violent. The latter is probably the result of the consumer not being able to cope with the arising low feelings which are then turned into aggression towards others as a safety valve. The self respect of those people is too low causing them to project their alcohol-intensified misery onto society as a whole.

  • 72.
  • At 07:17 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Gravity wrote:

Drug use => victimless crime => polticians/police/civil servants, leave us alone please

  • 73.
  • At 07:34 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • john h wrote:

Why should Sandra M be "...more concerned if a senior member of the government had had lengthy treatment involving anti-depressants or anti-psychotic drugs...". I know a number of people who at one time needed such treatment, and are fully capable of doing demanding and stressfull jobs - so why the concern?

  • 74.
  • At 07:52 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Bulganin wrote:

They must have all still been under the influence when they swallowed the nonsense about the existence of weapons of mass destruction hook,line and sinker.

  • 75.
  • At 07:55 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • John Finch wrote:

I'd be more concerned if she hadn't tried weed at uni.

  • 76.
  • At 07:57 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • IanD wrote:

These confessions to soft crimes seem to be a prelude to an attack on Cameron to get him to admit his drug use.

  • 77.
  • At 07:57 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Steven McGinley wrote:

Who really cares weather or not they had the odd smoke in their youth. I think britain should follow a similar model to the dutch drug policy as the current drugs policy is vastly outdated

  • 78.
  • At 07:57 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Chris Kelman wrote:

So this story is more important than today's other 'buried' story - that new licencing laws have led to a three-fold increase in alcohol related admissions to casualty departments? I'd rather people smoked dope than drank alcohol to be honest. THe world would be a far better, and safer place, in my humble opinion.

  • 79.
  • At 08:00 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Steven McGinley wrote:

Who really cares weather or not they had the odd smoke in their youth. I think britain should follow a similar model to the dutch drug policy as the current drugs policy is vastly outdated

  • 80.
  • At 08:35 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Philippa wrote:

Can we have a similar article on how many politicians have broken the speed limit? That's illegal as well, and considerably more dangerous - and the danger is to others. And I'll bet that most of the "offenders" didn't give that up when they left university.

  • 81.
  • At 08:57 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Martin Chandler wrote:

Firstly it would be refreshing to have someone who knows what they're talking about dealing with drugs...sadly, politics by media will win the day and the common sense will go its usual path..nowhere. But good on her for being honest. Kind of flies in teh face of "one joint and your schizo" though doesnt it. Ah - except its all so much more evil now...or is it.

To date there is NO hard evidence that cannabis is stronger now, the evidence that is put forward is scant, highly questionable and so fragile as to be worthless. The figures bandies aboutin the press are pure fiction. This is based on a review of the available research evidence - including a piece by the former head of the governments forensic labs who insists the figures are nonsense. I would say he knows better than most given that he was in charge of testing it. Its a plant, you cant guarantee potency, no matter what the strain. It has 600+ chemicals that moderate the effect so how do you measure potency using just one (THC) and believe it to be a valid measure? The evil "Homegrown" refers to plants grown at home..its not a strain it home made and it may well be very poor quality!

The list goes on...everything the government has said reflects trial by media not sound policy based on solid research evidence. ALL the strongest evidence around cannabis shows less harm than alcohol or tobacco. There is little reliable evidence of links to mental harm..as compared to the irrefutable evidence linking tobacco to heart disease, lung cancer, brochial disease..teh list goes on. But those little cancer sticks are legally sold to our 16 year olds, who thereby pay huge taxes to the same government that bans cannabis. Thats why they dont listen to the gov't on drugs..its hypocrisy.

In the USA...a 10 year campaign against drug users elicited 37 MILLION arrests, and over 1 TRILLION dollars spent enforcing it...and absolutely nothing changed in the drugs market. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Thats enough money to end world famine.

  • 82.
  • At 09:21 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Alchohol ruins more lives than any other drug. fact. Poeple are hooked on coffee and tea.

Lots of people say it helps criminal activities, then legalise, tax it, regulate it and educate people about it.

There are a lot worse things out there that this country endorses. (i.e alchohol)

  • 83.
  • At 09:41 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • T wrote:

so what is the point in any of this anyway? basically life is about having fun. some people have fun by enjoying a balance of freedom and responsibilities, others enjoy some mild drug adictions. At the end of the day why should a toke as a young person really affect somebodys future? what if you breath in certain molecules that are assosiated with tobbacco or cnnibis, does this make you 'evil' or a 'druggie' where are the lines and why do we insist on drawing them? life isn't a square. Life is for living, not worrying about who took what. If somebody in the cabinet was totally out of their face all day every day, would anyone be able to tell?

  • 84.
  • At 10:08 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • h. steck wrote:

The Labour ministers should recall what G. W. Bush said when asked about drinking etc. "when I was young, I was young". It's relly Not a big deal.
hs

  • 85.
  • At 10:31 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Am I missing something?
If Ms Smith had been caught and convicted of possessing cannabis, would she now be Home Secretary? Upgrading the drug means her potential successors will get criminal records, at least for a while.

  • 86.
  • At 10:41 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Shaun wrote:

These politicians are getting off scot-free. Their names and DNA profile should go on the Police National Database. They've admitted they broke the law and they should be treated the same way as anyone else.

  • 87.
  • At 10:50 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Chris Payne wrote:

Whats the fuss. Just as long as she did not jump off of Magdelan bridge on May morning

  • 88.
  • At 10:54 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Ryan Shockneck wrote:

I am a regular smoker of cannabis and tobacco, and find it ridiculous that this "confession" is considered newsworthy to anybody at all. Anyone who has been to university will have been in contact with marijuana, it's everywhere. When I was there, there were large communal areas in the halls of residence where people of all backgrounds would meet and socialise, and drinking and smoking were the order of the day. Most of the students in the halls were serious academics too but sometimes they would smoke some weed with the hippy students from their corridor and were never any worse off for it.

As for cannabis being illegal, take a look at the Dutch system. Anyone who has ever been to the Netherlands will have seen the coffeeshops (they have them in every city I've visited while there), note that: a) Nobody smokes outside of the coffeeshops (except for in private residences), it's frowned upon and the police don't take kindly to it. b) There aren't any young teenagers in the coffeeshops, they all require ID to get service. c) The statistic of Dutch people over the age of 12 who have ever tried cannabis is 17% (I can't find a statistic with the same age sample as this for the UK but all similar statistics suggest we have a significantly higher rate of lifetime users, most suggest over 30%).

If it could help prevent children and adolescents from smoking weed, and deliver a fatal blow to a massive sector of organised crime which saps police time and money, would regulation really be such a bad thing? My belief is that if it were legalised in the same manner in the UK as in the Netherlands, we would see less drug dealing in residential areas, fewer young users (and subsequently less long-term mental health problems among users), no more low-quality contaminated marijuana coming in from overseas (less damage to user's respiratory systems and less customs/coastguard money/time wasted), a drop in the levels of people sent to prison for anything marijuana-related, and that old chestnut, NHS revenue generated by taxation. The only real reason we don't have a similar system already is because of conservative closed-mindedness and the inability to admit that this country's drug policy for the last 80 years has been a complete and utter failure and has no doubt caused more global misery than all the drugs in the world could if they hadn't been criminalised.

  • 89.
  • At 11:15 PM on 19 Jul 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

So Nick, did you partake?

A serious point:

If any of these Government ministers had been convicted for possession would they be allowed to be ministers now? It certainly provides a block on being a Teacher or Youth Worker and a criminal records investigation on all people who work with children has become mandatory. Maybe they are just crowing over the fact that they weren't caught, while the Brown Government re-classifies Cannabis possession to be criminal again.

Cynical point:

Is this all leading up to an attack on David Cameron who has refused to discuss such matters? Dirty Politics may be about to make a comeback.

  • 91.
  • At 01:33 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • james wrote:

legalize cannabis,, the netherlands has so why cant we. the goverment could also use cannabis to bring in more tax revenue. there is no proof that cannabis causes mentle health problems. it would be rediculas to put up cannabis from class c to b , it would waste police time and secondly overcrowd even more prisions .

Links between Cannabis use and Mental Illness are weak at best, of all the studies performed there has only been a single study that claimed to prove *statistically* that Cannabis caused Mental Illness, considering how many people take it everyday, it should be a little more conclusive.

Arguments linking between Cannabis and Organised Crime are weak at best, but hey, make it MORE illegal and MORE profitable and see if that works.

Arguments claiming Cannabis is more potent is laughable at best, yes it may be more potent, but that doesn't mean people are more intoxicated.

To be quite honest the sooner cannabis is decriminalised in the UK the better, then we could do proper research on it, tax it, classify it and stop sending otherwise law abiding citizens to jail.

If you carry on doing what you've always done, you'll get more of what you already have got.

Holy smoke

  • 94.
  • At 02:56 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • D Spence wrote:

Personally, I tend to listen to the experts, then make up my mind...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/5230006.stm

  • 95.
  • At 07:27 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • simon, javid wrote:

I think we have to give some favor to the politicians and support them, because it is not a matter to be considered much strictly as it is more personnel than political. Almost 82% of the university students involve in less or more cases of the drugs..

  • 96.
  • At 09:15 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Nick, we are continuously seeing the statement that since cannabis is stronger now than it used to be that it is more harmful. This is incorrect and you can be the first to challenge that if you like!

The real fact is that it only takes a certain amount of cannabis to have the effect of being stoned. Smoke more and more and you just go to sleep, consumption ceases. If the dope is stronger, as hydroponically grown skunk often is, you just go to sleep faster!
Instead of one or two joints to get high you now need just one. People invariably make the comparison with alcohol where strong alcohol will actually kill you.This just shows their complete ignorance of using it. Cannabis doesn't work like that at all. If people are becoming psychotic after smoking hash it's probably because they were borderline psychotic to begin with, it doesn't make hash dangerous! This is spin!

  • 97.
  • At 09:19 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • NickyPedant wrote:

There was a post further up that seemed to be most concerned with the fact that "ALL" drugs come from "CRIMINALS". That is a rather circular argument if the poster was talking about illegal drugs - if he wasn't it's just incorrect.

Someone else asked why the Home Secretary gets away with it when civil servants who were convicted of possession of cannabis would lose their jobs. I think it might have something to do with the fact that a) she hasn't been convicted of anything and b)she has admitted to do anything illegal whilst in office.

  • 98.
  • At 09:28 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • john smith wrote:

I have an 18 yr old son, who I would hope does not follow Gordon Brown's hypocritical government's example. I can warn him of the dangers and he can say chill dad, everyone takes it!
Perhaps Myra Hyndley should use Smith's excuse "I did it in my youth" and be exonnerated? These hypocrites are sending men "in their youth" to die in Iraq, not smoke cannabis in University. Sack them all - It may make "youth" think twice about smoking it now.

  • 99.
  • At 10:17 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Huw Roberts wrote:

"Newrooms across London are debating..." says Mr Robinson. And in other places, you know! Some of them literally HUNDREDS of miles away from London! Honestly!

  • 100.
  • At 10:35 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Josefin Kristina wrote:

I can not believe this "confession" was all over the headlines! What hypocrisy! Half of the journalists in daily newspapers have probably used harder drugs more recently and more regularly.

  • 101.
  • At 10:45 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

In response to the person who stated "drugs are evil" - this is the kind of ignorant, broad-brush mindset SENSIBLE users of recreational drugs have to deal with.

I used to be ignorant, then I started researching issues independently, rather than eating up all the delicious propaganda the media conveniently spoon feeds us on a daily basis.

Drugs are "evil"? Perhaps, if one reacts in a certain way to them. However, believe it or not, the majority of users respect their drug of choice (even if that's alcohol!).

To the government and all you other draconian dinosaurs - keep your big fat nose out of my private life.

  • 102.
  • At 12:18 PM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Ross Nockles wrote:

If Jacqui Smith was not deterred from trying cannabis when she was a student and cannabis was classified Class B why should changing it back from Class C to B dissuade anyone from trying it now?

  • 103.
  • At 12:36 PM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Alan, London wrote:

I'd guess that more people have had "a puff or two" of cannabis than would ever admit to it.
I've done it myself in the past and nowadays just can't be bothered with it, in the same way I've "grown out of" alcohol. No, I'm not an old fogey, I'm 43 and love having fun, just that I can't be bothered with intoxicants anymore.

Can we now please move on to some real news such as "Queen had a whiskey after dinner" or "Gordon Brown went to bed at 11pm on Thursday night" >.

I'm tired of the sensationalism and faux-shock at such things, lets have some real journalism.

  • 104.
  • At 02:53 PM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

Drug use => victimless crime => polticians/police/civil servants, leave us alone please

Tell that to those with lung cancer.

Tell that to all the people in rehab.

Tell that to the two teenagers in Ghana on drug trafficing charges.

Tell that to the victims of columbian drugs cartels - who don't even use the drug.

To say that drug use is a victimless crime is exceptionally niave and short sighted.

  • 105.
  • At 02:57 PM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Colin Robinson wrote:

I think one of the reasons this story is so high up the pecking order is that maybe the BBC is looking for a good way to bury its own bad news with regards to their misleading viewers in phone ins and the like

A real concern is that the British public could end up feeling the same way about the BBC as they do about politics in general and that in my opinion is much more worrying than whether a minister had a spliff 25 years ago.

  • 106.
  • At 05:31 PM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Mark Preston wrote:

I wonder if Mr Clewlow (post number 5) above has ever had a glass of wine, or a cigarette, or even a cup of tea or coffee. They are all stimulants/depressants just in the same way as cannabis. Its just that one is illegal, the others not. If that is the case, then I am EVIL (I got a parking ticket last year).

Really - this whole charade is ridiculous. I am more suspicious of people who have been to university and HAVEN'T tried a puff on a spliff.

  • 107.
  • At 11:15 PM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

I smoked cannabis at University, I have had intimate knowledge of both men and women, tarrying somewhat errantly in deciding on a preference, I have been drunk many times, indeed incoherent and unabashed on some occasions and once teased a cat to the point of distraction.

Unlike Jacqui Smith and co I am not in a spin about any of it. The soul-wrenching confessionals of the damned are not my bag, I found them on the one hand quite dull, and the other, rather pathetic.

I do wonder if the man in the pulpit is not in fact pleased with all this hand-wringing, its right up his street.

Question for Mr BROWN (Yes, that correct.....Mr GORDON Brown):

Why do we still have a Home Secretary in office that admits to WILLINGLY and KNOWINGLY having broken the 'Law of the Land'....and on more than one occassion it seems....and NOT even by ACCIDENT.

I didn't do it, and I have no sympathy what so ever for any of your Ministers that did.

Do you really believe that your new "leopards" (no not leapers?) DO really change their spots as they get older? I think NOT Mr Brown.

Not good enough by a long shot Mr BROWN. Lets see if you mean what you said only a couple of weeks back....by a re-shuffle of your pack to keep any more Black Aces out in the wilderness where they belong.

Oh dear........Sorry, that leaves you with very little choise now does it.

Just a thought:

Next time the media who, according to Andrew Neil, are there to hold the Government to account, question a politician about drug use, should they, themselves declare their own history of drub abuse?

After all, the media in the country has a somewhat long history with both drugs and alcohol.

It seems only fair, somehow ...

  • 110.
  • At 06:30 PM on 23 Jul 2007,
  • Jeff Hartnell wrote:

Surely this "confession" is just about the Labour government trying to look more honest and open than the conservatives. DC has, after all, refused to give a straight answer.

@john smith

`Perhaps Myra Hyndley should use Smith's excuse "I did it in my youth"`

Smoking cannabis is not the same as murdering children.

@Lee

`To say that drug use is a victimless crime is exceptionally niave and short sighted.`

That has a degree of truth, but is naive in it's assessment, lumping all drug use in together, it is also short sighted, for example cocaine is not the cause of the troubles in Colombia.

  • 112.
  • At 12:38 AM on 27 Jul 2007,
  • SCOTTOW wrote:

Lets face it it doesnt matter what Jacqui Smith did, Gordon Brown is going to be his own Home Secretary.And just in case amyone noticed a man got shot dead trying to enforce laws against smoking.So you can be fairly sure Gordon Brown isnt going to be doing anything drastic on this issue anytime soon. He might persecute a few MS sufferers but any real gangsters are well safe.

  • 113.
  • At 01:51 AM on 27 Jul 2007,
  • Jon W wrote:

in all honesty we've all made mistakes when we where young and done things maybe we shouldnt have, but my point is this, maybe we shouldn't penalise them for doing anythinf prier to becomming an MP, but what they have done whilst an MP

  • 114.
  • At 11:52 AM on 27 Jul 2007,
  • Rhys wrote:

I believe that the facts about drugs causing mental health problems could be all but a fact of life.
how many people develop mental illness in this country and have never taken drugs?
if you look at the figures, they're roughly identical.
and who really cares that politicians have taken or are taking drugs? regardless, they're only human at the end of the day.
she is rather hypocritical though about the whole thing. saying shes taken it then saying shes against it :| isn't that what politicians do though??...

  • 115.
  • At 03:36 PM on 29 Jul 2007,
  • Hypocon wrote:

By all means rattle on about what was in someone's cigarette so many years ago! All the public is supposed to care about is whether it was smoked indoors or outdoors. What worries me, is the incontrovertible link with schizophrenia, which is reaching epidemic proportions and having a woefully inadequate allocation of resources to provide for future needs of people stricken for life in over one third of cases - facing cuts, and the usual inattention from Government and Media alike. Mental Health must be a blind-spot for all of you people who get in print. You have nothing to say on any of the issues which affect people in this predicament. Well, what is in it for you? That Anybody can be landed up in this situation with equal vulnerability, and be detained for a minimum 72 hours, just for a Medic to assess you. What then? Well you can't light up inside anyway.

  • 116.
  • At 04:56 PM on 29 Jul 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Who cares what she did or didn't do years ago? The problem is, what do we do now about illegal drugs?

Many years ago, before the current drug laws, there were relatively few addicts in this country (a few hundred) and most of these had become addicts as a side effect of pain medication during serious illness. They got their drugs from their GP and held down 9-to-5 jobs.

As several others have already suggested, make all drugs legal, regulated and taxed. Anyone who registers as a user can get their drug of choice free (or on prescription) from the NHS. At a stroke we would have the following advantages.

  • Those who are branded criminals for smoking cannabis for medical purposes, because modern drugs cannot give them relief, would no longer have the fear and stigma of possible arrest.
  • Drug dealers would be put out of business over night, they couldn't compete.
  • Addicts would not have to resort to petty crime to finance their habit and the crime figures would genuinely drop.
  • Addicts would receive clinically pure drugs in known concentrations and the incidence of overdose and health complications would be reduced.
  • Healthy addicts would be able to hold down proper jobs and contribute to society and taxes.
  • There would be no point in dealers trying to create new users by giving away free samples to the young.
  • 117.
  • At 11:57 AM on 31 Jul 2007,
  • Christopher Ash wrote:

Guys, don't write your complaints of the hipocracy on here, write them to your MP. We need this law changed for the futures of our young children who will ALL have criminal records before they are 20 under this government.

  • 118.
  • At 01:37 AM on 01 Aug 2007,
  • Trailly wrote:

As a recreational user of cannabis for 16 years I can testify to some facts garnered from personal experience. It is addictive (over a long time), you do get tolerant, it isn't cheap and it isn't good for the throat.

But then, what isn't addictive? Computer games? Chocolate? A football team? Bad tv? For all of Mary Jane's shortcomings she has never caused me to take a day off work hungover, to fight mindlessly in town centres on a friday night or to wake up with a lady whose name I can't recall. Ever tried to read a book when your drunk? Horrid.

And their are posts babbling on about mood swings, depression, schizophrnia etc? I work in a pub - I would never give an angry man a drink. It's on rare occasion that I meet a man or woman in our society that's truly well balanced; but that's another tale altogether.

But here's the truest point in all of this: the relatively new prohibtion on drugs laws are exactly the problem. Why? Because it means that recreational users (by far the most common denominator of ALL users of ALL drugs), whether stoners or smack heads, have to embrace criminality. We can only procure through this network and they set the marketplace for themselves, often with below par, and sometimes lethally cut drugs.

As for wotsherface, couldn't care less.

  • 119.
  • At 05:17 PM on 01 Aug 2007,
  • john wrote:

statute of limitations, anyone?

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