Portsmouth public health chief under fire from cannabis reform campaigners

Portsmouth City Council's director of public health Dr Janet Maxwell has come under fire from national group Clear Cannabis Law Reform. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133461-017)

Portsmouth City Council's director of public health Dr Janet Maxwell has come under fire from national group Clear Cannabis Law Reform. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133461-017)

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A NATIONAL cannabis reform group says it has filed an ‘official complaint’ against Portsmouth City Council’s director of public health.

The complaint from Clear Cannabis Law Reform relates to comments made by Dr Janet Maxwell to The News that the group says was ‘misinformation and scaremongering about cannabis’.

Earlier this week, The News reported around 250 people are expected to attend a ‘cannabis picnic’ in Southsea today.

Dr Maxwell said: ‘Cannabis has real and harmful effects on the mind and body. It affects how your brain works and can make users of the drug feel very anxious or paranoid.

‘Using it has been linked, in some people, to serious, long-term mental health problems.

‘Just like smoking tobacco, smoking cannabis has also been linked to lung diseases like tuberculosis and lung cancer.

‘It is important that people don’t lose the message about the negative effects cannabis can have.’

Clear Cannabis Law Reform, which is said to have more than 200,000 followers across the country, has now contacted the city council about Dr Maxwell’s views.

Peter Reynolds, president and elected leader of Clear, said: ‘Clear strongly opposes irresponsible events which involve public use of cannabis. However, it’s not surprising that young people resort to such misbehaviour when they see people in positions of power providing false and misleading information.

‘How can cannabis be so dangerous in Portsmouth when it is not in 23 US states, throughout Canada, Israel and every country in Europe except the UK, France and Ireland?

‘It is reckless and irresponsible of Dr Maxwell to mislead the public as she has.

‘When young people see such untruths spoken about drugs they cease to take any notice of public health messages.

‘We will be pursuing a complaint of misconduct and we will produce peer reviewed scientific evidence to contradict the sensationalist claims she has made.’

Asked to respond last night, Dr Maxwell said: ‘People are entitled to their own opinions regarding cannabis but I stand by what I have previously said.

‘This is not just my personal belief, it is sound and evidenced public health advice. Cannabis can be a harmful substance.’

Clear Cannabis Law Reform is a political party campaigning to end the prohibition of cannabis.

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