11. Why do you oppose drug use?

Because it creates severe mental confusions, causes addiction, can lead to mental illness, and can make some people violent. Too many rehabilitation cases never recover, and undergo agonies. This form of "recreation" has proved very harmful to young drug users in Britain. Further, advocates of LSD “therapy” exert an underground influence of grave proportions. Hallucinogenic drugs confer an illusion of "spiritual experiences," and the promoters of Stanislav Grof LSD lore are prone to magnifying this deception. Hallucinations caused by certain drugs can be overpowering, but are solely chemical effects on the brain, nothing spiritual at all.

Drugs like cannabis and MDMA (Ecstasy) often lead to cocaine and heroin addiction, which can be fatal. Overdoses have been too common. Some victims survive with difficulty, but others die. Cannabis is now a much stronger drug than it was in former decades; the older commodity nevertheless caused a number of injurious side-effects known in clinical literature. The pro-drugs lobby often state that alcohol is more harmful than heroin and cocaine, a facesaver argument which may be considered distracting.

1.  The Class C Phase of Cannabis

In Britain, cannabis use increased dramatically by the 1990s. This drug eventually caused serious trouble in British schools, resulting in moods of both aggression and lethargy, contrary to the pro-drug propaganda favoured for many years by "legalisers." Long-term users of cannabis can lose all incentive for anything except recourse to this disruptive drug. The British Labour government of Tony Blair failed to cordon the problems involved, and instead became legalisers. They relaxed restrictions upon cannabis in January 2004, reclassifying it as a class C drug (instead of the danger category class B) in relation to the Misuse of Drugs Act. The Home Secretary David Blunkett announced the pending change in 2001, and this was pursued to completion, despite objections in 2003 from the International Narcotics Control Board.

The Class C phase entailed removing the threat of arrest for possession of cannabis. The leniency proved disastrous. Dr. Anthony Seldon, the headmaster of Wellington College (a public school in Berkshire), pleaded in the press for a total prohibition on cannabis, due to the damage created by this drug amongst juvenile users, who risk mental illness and even death. There is considerable medical evidence that cannabis causes psychosis. Even mild and short-term use can result in depression. Cannabis can reduce motivation to zero.

A major problem was the increasingly popular resort to “skunk,” a new strain of cannabis up to five or six times stronger than other varieties. Home grown skunk cannabis is a genetically altered product. The active ingredient in cannabis is the powerful tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is magnified in the skunk derivatives. Addiction can easily occur, along with drawbacks such as hallucination, depression, and the reduction of concentrative ability. Yet despite increasing dangers, the number of cannabis dealers being sent to jail in Britain achieved a drastic decrease as a consequence of myopic government policy. During the Class C phase, the Home Office and their advisers developed a habit of denying the harmful effects of THC. More responsible parties, including senior police officers, magistrates, and medical experts, supported an incentive to reimpose class B status upon cannabis.

Though he himself had expressed a resistance to cannabis, Tony Blair presided over a government choosing to obey the drug legalisation lobby. That retrogressive government was insensitive to citizen needs. At this period, a revealing UNICEF study of 21 industrialised countries disclosed that Britain ranked third on the list of national cannabis crises. This study focused upon the proportion of those in the 11-15 year old age group who admitted to taking cannabis. The figures stood at 35% in Britain compared with 18% in Germany. Sober by comparison was the 5% falling to Sweden. France was another casualty at 27%. The cost in terms of mental illness and other drawbacks was too high. Drugs like cannabis are a major incentive to crime, and can impair communities. The Blair government created a paradise for drug dealers.

In Britain, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) came under strong criticism from anti-drug campaigners and police chiefs. The Council argued against the perception that rising cannabis use leads to more cases of mental illness. The ACMD was a strongly supporting factor in the political process that led to the reclassification of cannabis in 2004. In 2002, the ACMD was vocal in supporting softer treatment for cannabis users, the declared objective being to give the police more time to tackle harder drugs. The ACMD adopted the well known stance that alcohol and tobacco are worse than cannabis; this had been the standard refrain of cannabis users in the 1960s and 1970s, a theme often used as supposed proof that nothing could be wrong with their drug habit.

In justification for the subsequent reclassification to Class C, the Home Office cited figures from the British Crime Survey, interpreting these to mean that cannabis use had lessened in recent years. The defensive argument was contradicted by two Associations of police officers who urged that cannabis can cause psychosis and is damaging to physical health. The Association of Chief Police Officers repeated their request for this drug to be rescheduled to Class B danger status.

In 2002, a study by Kings College (London) showed that adolescents who began smoking cannabis in their early teens faced a fourfold increase in the risk of schizophrenia during adult life. Five years later, in 2007, a joint study by the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, and London, concluded that heavy users of cannabis are more than twice as likely to suffer mental illness. The innovation of skunk cannabis has added a new dimension to the problem of teenage users.

One of those who gave evidence to the ACMD in early 2008 was Debra Bell, a Londoner who chaired the charity Talking About Cannabis. Her own son was a cannabis casualty. This well educated middle class boy fell a victim at the age of fourteen, and relied upon the government declassification to Class C as a proof of safety. By the age of sixteen, he was smoking five joints a day and suffering severe personality changes. He became withdrawn and aggressive, and began to steal money anywhere he could, starting with his mother. He dropped out of normal life. When his mother refused to give him money for the drug habit, he slammed her hand in a door, causing injury. His family were obliged to find him separate accommodation, being unable to cope with him.

Further light was shed on this subject by the BBC Radio 4 reporter Winifred Robinson, who investigated vicinities in South London and Liverpool. She linked gun violence amongst feuding youths with their heavy cannabis use. Teenagers were becoming drug dealers in the vogue for skunk. She talked with a fourteen year old in Peckham who had seen his best friend stabbed to death for owing a cannabis dealer less than 200. Peckham (in South London) had become noted for gun crime amongst young people. One fifteen year old victim was shot as he slept. This trend of violence reflects a much more widespread problem of cannabis use, which dramatically increased amongst young criminals at this period. In some areas, nine out of ten young offenders were reported to be smoking cannabis. Magistrates became very concerned at this development. According to Robinson, fifty out of fifty-one youth courts in England and Wales had recently written to the Home Secretary, requesting that cannabis should be rescheduled to Class B. (Winifred Robinson, “The deadly habit as easy to pick up as a bag of crisps,” Daily Mail, 04/04/2008, p. 11).

Critics of the Labour government emphasised that skunk cannabis totally contradicted the soft relegation to Class C. The chemically modified skunk variant of cannabis started in Britain about 2000 (or earlier), when a few cultivation houses were found in London. This innovation quickly became a nationwide phenomenon, assisted by legaliser fantasies. Large scale cultivations of skunk cannabis were located by the police in many areas of England, Wales, and Scotland. The Metropolitan Police were reported to be raiding 1,500 cannabis farms during 2006-08. Elsewhere, two hundred of those farms were closed down in Derbyshire alone. Many of the “farms” were concealed in suburban houses. In May 2008, the police revealed that they were discovering 2,000 cannabis farms a year. Many young people believed that legaliser activities meant: drugs are OK.

Children as young as ten were soon reported to be in the daily habit of smoking skunk cannabis. Some close observers described the effects in terms of irreversible damage to the brain. Skunk is a convincing explanation for the growth and intensity of street violence. The problem was not confined to deprived areas, but also spread amongst middle class youngsters. Parents who once smoked the earlier form of cannabis were unprepared for the powerful manifestations of skunk consumption exhibited in their offspring.

In 2008, a study conducted for the Home Office discovered a fact confirming the madness of Class C legalisation. Eight out of every ten samples of cannabis seized on the streets were now skunk. This compares to a much lower statistic of 15% for skunk in 2002. The new findings were based on samples submitted by 23 police forces in Britain. The official figure for skunk prevalence was now 81 per cent, decoding to high risk.

Yet the ACMD continually affirmed that cannabis plays only a “modest role” in creating problems of mental health. They irresponsibly asserted that cannabis users adjust their consumption by smoking less if the drug is stronger. Even more recklessly, the ACMD dismissed claims that cannabis is a “gateway drug” leading to cocaine and heroin abuse. The ivory towers were stained with the blood and agony of victims.

By 2008, the facts had overtaken the theorists. Britain was now afflicted with the highest level of drug abuse in Europe. Drug-related crimes, including murder, were revealed to have increased by almost half since 1997. The ACMD favoured restrictions being made only on drug dealers, while emphasising leniency to users. Their theory took no account of what happens when drug users become criminals and murderers. Some users go in the opposite tendency direction and become suicide cases.

A well known media case is that of the 18 year old cannabis user who hanged himself in 2007. Matthew White was one of those unfortunate youths who, in 2004, believed that the government sanction of cannabis to Class C meant: smoking cannabis is harmless. The drug pundits have caused deaths to an unknown extent. Matthew White was the promising head boy of his school prior to becoming a cannabis drop out and then regressing to suicide. Yet what actually killed him were two tablets of LSD. His “bad reaction” to that hallucinogenic substance caused him to run off into the woods, where he hanged himself (Daily Mail, 08/05/2008, p.11, column 4). The ongoing presence of LSD amongst pushers and users is a subject confused by academic lore emanating from America, where the pseudo-spirituality of "LSD psychotherapy" is a goad for various setbacks, including the “gateway” transitions minimised and denied by the ACMD.

2.  The INCB, LSD, and Gordon Brown

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent body closely associated with the United Nations (UN). The INCB acts as the control agent for UN drug conventions. The INCB were a prominent and very critical objector to the Class C cannabis policy of the Tony Blair government. In March 2008, the INCB won acclaim when calling for a tougher line against drug-using celebrities in the public limelight. Their report criticised the presiding authorities for being too lenient with drug-using pop stars, and emphasised that the drug partisan attitude sends out the wrong message to teenagers.

The President of the INCB was Hamid Ghodse (d. 2012), a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of London. Professor Ghodse complained at the leniency extended by the judiciary and law enforcement. The INCB report, on behalf of the UN, urged the relevant national authorities to “ensure that public celebrities who violate drug laws are made accountable.” The large number of celebrities who have betrayed public support is a glaring testimony to the precarious nature of contemporary “civilisation.”

It is ironic that UN bureaucracy ignored a British complaint relating to an evocative LSD promotion issue. The Letter of Kate Thomas to UNESCO is dated 01/09/2007, and includes reference to an internet elevation by the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN) of “a disciple of Grof who promotes the use of LSD as a spiritual path.” The disciple of Stanislav Grof is here Christopher Bache, an American academic transmitting the wrong message to teenagers and adults via the website of the irresponsible SMN, a British alternative organisation led by David Lorimer. Bache is author of the controversial work Dark Night, Early Dawn (2000), a strongly pro-Grof celebration of LSD “therapy” articulated in terms of “transpersonal pedagogy” and “collective transformation.” See further Shepherd, Pointed Observations (2005), pp. 6-24 on Grof and pp. 148ff. on Bache. See also Letter of Complaint to David Lorimer.

The SMN are closely linked with the Findhorn Foundation, whose suppressive policy was reflected in questionable follow-on tactics, operative in both the SMN and the allied Wrekin Trust, concerning an objector to drug use (Kate Thomas). The SMN website openly promoted an article of Bache against Thomas for six years, an article explicitly recommending LSD as a vehicle for spiritual development. Sanction of hallucinogenic and psychoactive drug experiences is not admirable in any form, and especially in the putative context of science and medicine. See the closing paragraphs at citizen initiative.

The SMN are also associated with the promotion of “near death” experiences, meaning the paranormal variety. In view of psychedelic extensions, this subject may be considered a distraction from social realities of deaths caused by drugs. A complaint about Grof lore (and other matters) was sent to Tony Blair in April 2006; Blair detoured this matter to the Department for Education and Skills, who were possessed of such diminishing responsibility that they failed to reply. See my First Letter to Tony Blair. Matthew White committed suicide in January 2007, while Tony Blair was preparing to resign and reported by the media to be aiming for lecture circuits in America worth millions of dollars. Perhaps he will say a prayer now and again for all the casualties of his regime.

The extent of LSD use is currently a more obscure subject than cannabis dealing. Nevertheless, this hallucinogen is one of the options available to consumers of the gateway drug. Matthew White was an intelligent boy who had gained ten GCSEs, mostly A stars, and he was surely capable of reading web promotions of LSD like that found on the SMN website tended by the “near death” enthusiast David Lorimer.

In May 2008, the erring British government announced that cannabis would be rescheduled back to Class B status. After a costly delay, the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown was at last prepared to overrule the ACMD. Yet official reclassification of the drug was postponed until the following year. A reaction occurred in some quarters at the continuing soft stance on prosecutions. Under-18s found in possession of cannabis would face prosecution only if caught a third time. There was also concern at the leisurely system of ordinances applying to adults, who might similarly receive a mere warning and a fine before being prosecuted.

Magistrates were then reporting an emergency situation: a large number of youngsters (including 12 year olds) had turned to crime through cannabis. The statistics in this respect had increased substantially since 2004. Cannabis victims were stealing in order to fund their drug habit. The reversal of the Class C catastrophe in January 2009 faced a formidable backlog of public problems caused by government lethargy. Critics of the delay in legislation by Gordon Brown estimated that nearly 9,000 cannabis victims in the under-18 age group were forced to seek treatment during the interim. So many of these victims treated Class C status as an invitation to use cannabis.

3. Drug Murderers

The five year phase of Class C latitude included a series of murders strongly associated with the mental illness drawback in cannabis use. The most notorious of these instances are horrific, namely Thomas Palmer and William Jaggs.

Thomas Palmer, aged 18, was a cannabis smoker of Wokingham who murdered two of his friends during a woodland gathering in 2005. He slit the throat of a 16 year old and stabbed to death a close friend aged 14. Palmer used a hunting knife with a seven-inch blade, and "virtually beheaded" the older friend, whom he stabbed ten times. The other victim was stabbed 23 times. The Reading court learned that the killer was a regular cannabis user and was addicted to horror films. Palmer contracted hallucinations according to his own testimony. He had failed the drugs test for the Royal Air Force because he smoked cannabis. Shortly before the murders, he used one of his knives to cut five swastikas into his chest.

A week before the killings, for four days Palmer watched a DVD horror film about a serial killer who stabbed his victims, cutting their throats. The connection is obvious, and by no means the sole instance of depraved video influence on murderers. Palmer's cannabis use had upset his sleep pattern, and he had also taken cocaine. The two victims were part of a group of friends who met in the woods to smoke cannabis. Medical experts told the jury that Palmer was in the first stages of schizophrenia. He was given a minimum 20 years in prison for the double murder.

Possibly more famous is William Jaggs, an Oxford University student and prolific cannabis user who graduated to cocaine and LSD. Jaggs became a cannabis addict at Harrow public school, from where he stole items in order to fund his drug intake. His increasingly violent behaviour caused him to be thrown out of a party for using a knife to threaten a girlfriend. The degree of sexual license in such instances is marked. Jaggs indecently assaulted a younger pupil, but was allowed to stay on at the public school because his father was a teacher there.

Jaggs later told psychiatrists that he planned to kill a drug colleague with a chainsaw. He informed an Oxford tutor that he was experiencing hallucinations. Jaggs admitted to being a psychopath; that was before he murdered Lucy Braham in 2006. The murderer frenziedly stabbed the victim sixty-six times, and was found covered in blood beside the corpse. When he saw the police officers coming towards him, Jaggs repeatedly stabbed himself in the chest, and fell into a coma. He was consigned to a mental hospital.

4. Cocaine and Mephedrone

The case of William Jaggs illustrates “gateway drug” complications. The cocaine problem had become deep-rooted in Britain. In 2007, a United Nations report stated that more than 900,000 young people in Britain were cocaine users, and that this drug was sampled by one in twenty people between the ages of 15 and 34. Britain was now suffering the highest level of cocaine use, among young people, in the developed world. In April 2008, the British government revealed that one in three offenders tested by the police for hard drugs, after committing street violence, had been using cocaine. The statistics further divulged that a third of these cocaine-influenced criminals had also resorted to heroin or another opiate.

Cocaine was formerly available only to affluent users. However, the price of this stimulant drug underwent a substantial reduction, making it affordable to teenagers and others with far less capital. That availability applied especially to the variety known as crack, strongly associated with violent crime. In April 2008, requests were made for tougher government action against cocaine use in Britain; the official approach to the problem was deemed complacent to a reckless degree. Campaigners urged that drug tests should be carried out on anyone arrested for a violent offence or disorder, an expedient customarily reserved only for serious crimes.

Cocaine users have died from overdose, which can cause heart attacks. In more general terms, "injecting drugs can damage veins and cause ulcers and gangrene" (quote from same web source). Snorting can damage the nose. Smoking the junk can cause breathing problems. Drug users have so many potential and actual problems that it is not rationally possible to envy them.

In subsequent years, the media reported that heroin and cocaine use was falling, the snag being that synthetic "designer" drugs like mephedrone were soaring in popularity. However, Britain remained the biggest consumer of cocaine in Europe, and this factor need not be regarded as a compliment. By 2011, more than 150 new drugs were being monitored. There were now eighty online shops selling mephedrone in Britain. The proportion of British schoolchildren using cannabis was said to have reduced, but there has been some query in view of the prolific quantities of skunk produced.

Mephedrone became a cheap alternative to cocaine and Ecstasy, and was classified as a class B drug in 2010. This event caused an apparent eclipse, but the new drug returned as an injected substance (the mephedrone powder being dissolved in water and injected). This trend became described as an epidemic, victims "using the drug all day, mainly because they are bored." Youngsters from the age of 13 were amongst the new addicts. Injections could occur up to forty times a day in the surfeit of boredom. Even heroin freaks turned to mephedrone. However, "drug users are taking huge risks if they inject it." In South Wales, dealers began selling a mixture of mephedrone and ketamine, described as a "popular hallucinogenic anaesthetic." See The Rise of Heroin's Cheap Rival. Agonising bladder problems have been contracted through the use of ketamine, requiring medical operations; high doses can cause death.

Mephedrone can make users euphoric or sick. Like other drugs, this one can overstimulate the heart, and even cause death. It became a common "club and street drug," symptomatic of boredom in those failing to understand that they are the toys of illegal drug laboratories spread throughout the world. Constant innovations occur in those laboratories wishing to sell their products, and they are gratified by consumer response. The entrepreneurs and their victims hope for legalisation, which would not be possible if due education prevailed over boredom and distractions.

5. Cannabis Problems

Addiction to skunk cannabis is still very much a social problem, with young people selling the drug to pay for their own backward habit. This drug can create, e.g., suicidal tendencies, potential physical violence, and psychosis. One monitor is cannabis skunk sense. Drawbacks are here described in terms of, e.g., 10% of those who try cannabis will become addicted, users may suffer from severe depression, skunk users are 7 times more likely to suffer psychosis than those who use cannabis resin, cannabis smoke deposits three to four times as much tar in the lungs than tobacco smoke, rare head and neck cancers are now being found in young cannabis smokers (the average age for such conditions in tobacco smokers being 64).

One of the significant quotes used in the above linked monitor comes from Professor Robin Murray (Institute of Psychiatry): "The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs [ACMD] denied [in 2002] that cannabis was a contributory cause of schizophrenia, continued to deny this for the next two years, and thus misled ministers into repeatedly stating that there was no causal link between cannabis and psychosis" (letter to The Guardian, 19/01/2006).

The same academic has stated that "the risk of psychosis goes up about six times if one is a long-term heavy cannabis smoker." Professor Murray describes how the ACMD "had done a sloppy job of reviewing the evidence; since that time, they have been trying to regain credibility, and now accept that heavy use of cannabis is a risk factor for psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia." In the same Guardian article, A Clear Danger from Cannabis (2009), Murray emphasises that "what we need is a major educational campaign to inform the public about the risks associated with heavy use of cannabis, particularly in early adolescence."

Subsequently, cannabis decriminalisation measures in America were strongly criticised by the United Nations, a body warning Washington that these actions violate international drug conventions. The INCB (with new President Raymond Yans) has also warned of a surge in the number of psychoactive "designer" drugs, frequently produced by laboratories in South-East Asia. A recent UN annual report on drugs stated that "the total number of such substances on the market has been estimated to be in the order of thousands, posing a significant challenge to public health systems."  It is not a case of smash the system, but smash the labs.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales affords a basic guide to contemporary peculiarities. The Drug Misuse Declared addition to the Survey, applying to 2011/12, reveals the reckless nature of "alternative lifestyle," which has opted in some cases for simultaneous polysubstance use and polydrug use. The former means the use of drugs with alcohol, and the latter means the simultaneous use of different drugs. The zest for complications in polydrug use means that almost all cases involve the ingestion, to varying degrees, of cannabis, powder cocaine, Ecstasy, and/or amphetamines. Enthusiasm for self-damage may be taken as a significator of an ailing alternative society.

In 2014, Professor Wayne Hall, a drugs advisor to the World Health Organisation, became noted for highlighting the drawbacks of cannabis. He wrote a review for Addiction, an international scientific journal. This included reference to studies conducted over the past twenty years, and relating to the effects involved in long term cannabis use. In general, the research of Hall includes addiction and mental disorders. He relays that one in six teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis become dependent on this substance. Heavy use of the drug in adolescence appears to retard intellectual development, leading to long term mental health problems. Cannabis doubles the risk of contracting psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia. There is the additional danger that vehicle driving, after smoking cannabis, doubles the risk of a car crash. Heavy users of the drug experience a withdrawal syndrome, comparable to cases of heroin addiction. The number of cannabis users who seek help, to stop or control their addiction, has increased during the past twenty years. This extensive situation applies to America, Europe, and Australia. The same increase in desperate users has occurred in the Netherlands, where cannabis use was decriminalised over forty years ago.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved. Page uploaded August 2008, last modified November 2014.