Monday, 26 January 2009

C-C-Cannabis

The decision (http://drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs-laws/cannabis-reclassifications/) by the UK Government to change the grading of cannabis back from a category C drug to category B (with more stringent legal penalties) in spite of the recommendations of their expert scientific panel is hardly remarkable. The classifications are somewhat arbitrary (one could make good cases for alcohol, nicotine and gambling being addictive 'drugs' in the case of substantial numbers of people) and this is one of the areas where science comes into conflict with advocacy (about individual experiences, changes in drug strength etc). The trouble is that advocacy tends to win every time as a) people don't understand science and b) there are votes (and positive newspaper headlines) to the gained by following the popular conclusions of advocacy (in deed, making the most convincing case by stressing items that support your view whilst 'downplaying' anything that runs counter to it is precisely how politicians and lawyers operate). It's no surprise that cannabis is B-B-Back in category B! Some of these issues (and the differing reliabilities of the 'evidence' utilised) are explored in a recent BBC Horizon programme (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00hhmd1/Horizon_Cannabis_The_Evil_Weed/). The basic conclusion seems to be that, although it creates serious problems for some users, cannabis isn't in the same ballpark as heroin and cocaine.

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