A serious health risk with ‘frightening’ dangers or, used medicinally, a drug which can change lives for the better.
Reading reaction in The News to the first ‘pot picnic’ in Portsmouth for 12 years, it is easy to see why the wide and varied views over the use of cannabis – and calls for it by some campaigners to be decriminalised in this country – provides such intense debate.
Take the story of Stevie Sizer on page five today.
The 33-year-old from Milton says recreational use of the class B drug has helped him combat anger management issues and depression.
Then there is 65-year-old Hazel Pannell, who was diagnosed with bower cancer two years ago and uses cannabis in oil form in the hope it will cure her.
The medical benefits provide a solid foundation for cannabis campaigners to argue their case, with support even gathering pace from some quarters in Westminster.
But for all the positive stories, the dangers of the class B drug must not be ignored.
Despite accusations of ‘scaremongering’ over her concerns with cannabis use, Portsmouth City Council’s director of public health Janet Maxwell was right to highlight the harmful effects it has on both the mind and body.
Statistics show that roughly 10 per cent of users are vulnerable to mental conditions such as schizophrenia, while one study found that using the drug before the age of 15 can quadruple your risk of experiencing psychosis.
Then there are the other dangers from regular use such as tuberculosis and lung cancer.
Of course, those in support of decriminalising cannabis will argue that tobacco and alcohol – readily available in every high street up and down the country – have far more harmful effects.
But try telling families who have been torn apart by teenage cannabis use that it poses no problems.
It may offer benefits to some, but there are good reasons why the so-called ‘safe drug’ should remain illegal in the UK.
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