IT was not so long ago that you could not go into a pub or a restaurant without being overcome by wafts of cigarette smoke.
You would leave the premises smelling of cigarettes even if you did not smoke.
Now the most likely waft of smoke you will smell will be marijuana.
The government’s action in making it illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places in England, as a consequence of the Health Act 2006, seems to have had a positive impact.
According to Heath and Social Care Information Centre, smoking is down from a peak of smoking adults of 46 per cent in 1974 to 19 per cent of adults in the UK today.
Teenagers in Britain are more likely to have taken illegal drugs than youngsters anywhere else in Europe.
Nearly 40 per cent of teenagers in the UK said they had tried substances including cannabis and ecstasy, according to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD).
Cannabis is the most widely-used drug among young people in the UK.
Frequent use of cannabis is about twice as likely among young people, and nearly 5.3 million 16 to 24 year-olds have used it in the last year, according to the National Society of Psychiatrists.
Nevertheless, pressure is being exerted on the government to legalise cannabis.
Celebrities like Russell Brand, Sir Richard Branson and Sting have added their names to the list of those who want to see drug laws relating to cannabis relaxed.
Rapper Professor Green recently made a documentary for the BBC called Is It Time To Legalise Weed?
Furthermore, in the run up to the 2017 General Election, the Liberal Democrats announced plans to legalise the drug for sale on the high street.
This policy made them one of the first political parties to fight an election on the ticket of relaxing drug laws.
Moreover, taking a more mercenary approach, the right wing think tank appearing at the Conservative Conference, The Adam Smith Institute, has said £750m to £1bn could go into state coffers if soft drugs were regulated and taxed.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, there is now sufficient evidence to show that those who use cannabis, particularly at a younger age, such as around the age of 15, have a higher than average risk of developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
These studies also show that the risk is dose-related.
In other words, the more cannabis someone used, the evidence shows the more likely they were to develop a psychotic illness.
Why should teenagers be particularly vulnerable to the use of cannabis?
It is thought that this has something to do with brain development.
In teenage years the brain is still developing and a massive process of ‘neural pruning’ is going on.
This is rather like streamlining a tangled jumble of circuits so they can work more effectively and any experience, or substance, that affects this process has the potential to produce long-term psychological effects.
I believe we have reason to be concerned.
There is a new – but old – smell wafting through our streets.
Make no mistake about it, cannabis stinks.