Cannabis activist’s stoned bibble

The research released this week that pointed to further links between mental illness and cannabis has produced another outpouring of denial from cannabis activists. This really annoys me, don’t get me wrong, I really want to see drug law reform and but I am sick of people getting in the way of it.

As the most widely used ‘illicit’ drug millions of voters have personal experience of it. Unlike crack cocaine or heroin a vast amount of people are thinking about liberalisation of the cannabis laws in the context of personal experience. Either many cannabis activists don’t seem to realise that this is the context of the debate and think they can spin the truth in the same manner as the opponents of drug policy reform. Or more worryingly are incapable at being useful spokespeople and are happy to argue from these quite unsupportable standpoints.

As somebody whose drug of choice is cannabis, I love puffing, I much prefer it to alcohol or any other drug. It is an important part of the pleasure I take in my life. However I am well aware of the downsides to the drug and it took me a long time to learn how to use it in a way that didn’t totally disrupt the rest of my life.  In my experience the majority of cannabis users agree with this healthy scepticism about the drug. Anybody who has watched somebody else or experienced themselves the paranoia that can easily come with inappropriate or heavy use, knows that cannabis is clearly no good for some people at all and no good at some points for others. It shouldn’t need a scientist to tell this to people who claim to be immersed in cannabis culture. A vast number of people know this through their own experience, why keep attempting to deny it? 

And please don’t give me the line that paranoia is just about THC, CBD and skunk, any decent quality weed or hash has the potential to knock you sideways. You smoke a lot in the wrong context and you are going to have problems. I have been there with a huge lamp of charis, hashish from India to those activists whose culture only extends to strains of herbal cannabis produced in the West, it doesn’t need to be New York diesel or cheese to be treated with caution.

'Because I got high’ was a hit because it had resonance with the public, cannabis use wastes years of potential in many lives. We all know it, any debate about reform of the law has to take this into account.

Medical use of cannabis is clearly a good idea, it is a wonderful painkiller and there should be further research into its use. This doesn’t mean it is benign, plenty of good medicines are poisons, especially those that tackle cancer. 

The other great lie that cannabis activists like to tell people is that ‘it’s not like other drugs’, rubbish. Just like heroin it is a great medicine, opiates are found in any hospital. And just like heroin it can be used both responsibly and irresponsibly. Plenty of cannabis uses should be considered ‘problematic’, chemically shielded from an uncomfortable reality, just like people who turn to heroin, cocaine or alcohol for this purpose. There is nothing wrong with drug use to tackle suffering but this behaviour frightens the unknowing and heavily influences the nature of political debates about drug policy reform. 

Denying that cannabis is used in this way is ridiculous and sends the signal that cannabis users are a highly delusional bunch. There is a vast amount of cannabis misuse. Some people can enjoy a glass of wine with a meal and others will find it hard not to start drinking every morning. Cannabis is like any other drug when it comes to this capacity for misuse. This is why it needs better control than afforded by the criminal justice system. 

Talking openly and honestly about cannabis use is the way to change things, through creating the cultural space where education can be the keystone of the social control of use. If you cannot talk openly or honestly about your own use of the drug please shut up, you are not helping.

It isn’t harmless, smoking isn’t a benign life enhancing activity, it isn’t a human right to get stoned. Arguing about drug policy reform in this context is foolish, counter-productive and above all plain dumb. Please stop it, as I would like to be able to have a quiet occasional and responsible smoke without fear of criminalisation.