The reclassification of cannabis from group C drug into group B has come into effect in England and Wales. There is great debate about it among politicians. Some of them claim it is ‘illogical’ and some think it would make the drug abuse situation better.
Cannabis has been illegal for 80 years. More liberal MPs say it has not made any difference to the drug usage. This is true. Drugs have been a part of the society from the earliest civilisations already. They have even been a cultural part. Mayans and Aztecs have consumed mind-altering substances that are classified as class A drugs, such as magic mushrooms for centuries in their spiritual rituals. Peruvians and Chileans have chewed on cocaine bush leaves for high altitude trips for energy. The same way harder drugs have been around, cannabis has as well.
When something has been around for so long, illegalisation will not really cut down its usage. History has shown that even the alcohol ban in the US in the 1920s did not last for longer than 13 years. How is a reclassification going to change anything in the peoples’ mentalities, if total bans do not even work?
The medical effect of cannabis is not worse than normal tobacco, which is not even illegal. Many extensive studies and experiments have concluded that the toxicity of cannabis is low, and there are no deaths reported on the immediate consequence of recreational or medical use of cannabis.
What is wrong with the whole cannabis [ab]use problem, is the blunt ignorance. The general attitude towards cannabis is that it is a gateway drug to harder substances, and develops a strong dependency. However, many people do use it daily and still have high ranked positions, even though there are some cases that illustrate the gloomier end as well. They justify the reclassification with the worry about the mental health of the youth, but the mental health of those who make decisions should be the one debated over.
Instead of tackling the awareness of what cannabis is really about, new laws are enforced. It would be a lot more effective, if cannabis-awareness programmes were as common as anti-tobacco ones. Of course that would only work if the information given was truthful and unbiased (contrary what anti-drug campaigns often do).
Instead of forbidding and illegalising cannabis [even more], social problems that might trigger the reach for mind-altering substances, should be tackled. They are in the same pit with alcohol and tobacco, and it is a broader problem, not just a problem with the use of cannabis. What might come out of this new law could be the reverse effect, the ‘forbidden fruit’ pattern. And really, no drug user considers the classifications of drugs as a relevant aspect, when considering their drug-preferences. You are tackling the wrong problems, decision-makers!
San Francisco, Haight Street. Written on the pavement before a pedestrian crossing. ©Ave Tampere 2oo6