Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Abby Hughes (DP071)

1. Introduction

I am a 23-year-old female, residing in Birmingham, currently employed as an Assistant Directorate Manager for General Surgery within one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, and I enjoy partaking in the consumption of Cannabis on an almost daily basis. I do not feel that my use of cannabis affects either my home or working life in any negative way. I am still able to wake up in the morning and go about my daily routine, however when I get home from work after a stressful day of dealing with constant drama, I like to relax and unwind by using marijuana. I find it keeps my stress levels down, I remain level headed and since taking cannabis, I have found that it helps prevent bronchial stenosis, which is brought on by my life-long allergy asthma. I cannot believe that the UK Drug Policy, particularly in this day and age, has not previously been thoroughly reviewed and alternative ideas looked at.

2. Brief Concerns

Apologies that this is not as informative as I’d have liked it to have been—I do not have much time available.

As I have found with my allergy asthma, cannabis can help medicate people who are unwell. The findings are still being unveiled and with more support put into financing these medicinal findings, rather than the money being blown away by ridiculous raids every five minutes on people just trying to produce enough cannabis to help themselves, people could really be helped a lot more.

I am also concerned that the government allows the sale and consumption of alcohol, but does not condone cannabis. I should not need to go in to detail regarding the comparison of both substances, as whomever this submission reaches will be well and truly aware, however I appreciate that this piece is to be used as written evidence. Therefore, I will go as far as saying that alcohol causes a lot more social harm than cannabis, however it is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Yes, some people may experience bad side effects of cannabis, however I do not, in the same way that I do not become an obscene drunkard, ending up becoming violent and wasting police time at the weekend, or attempting to become superman as within the advertising campaigns trying to promote safer drinking. Can we not legalise cannabis and promote safer use?

3. CLEAR, Cannabis Law Reform—UK

I am a member of CLEAR and agree with the aims and objectives set out by the Party as follows:

1.To end the prohibition of cannabis

Prohibition is a big, dumb, and very expensive failure. It is brutal. It puts prejudice before people. The “war on drugs” is responsible for more death, destruction and despair than any other war. History has shown that prohibition creates far more problems than it solves. In the 21st century we should expect far better solutions from our policy makers and governments.

2.To promote as a matter of urgency and compassion the prescription of medicinal cannabis by doctors

No reasonable human being can deny another relief from pain, suffering or disability. There is no rational argument against permitting access to medicinal cannabis for those who need it. The fact that the British government and the deeply rooted bureaucracy of the Home Office stand in the way is a deep and lasting shame on our nation.

3.To introduce a system of regulation for the production and supply of cannabis based on facts and evidence

Authoritative research from the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit proves that a cannabis tax and regulate regime in Britain would produce a boost to the UK economy of at least £6 billion per annum. That’s based on a cannabis tax of £1 per gram, massive savings in law enforcement costs but allowing for the cost of administering the system and providing additional healthcare and education services. All the evidence and experts agree that a responsibly regulated system would also reduce all health and social harms.

4.To encourage the production and use of industrial hemp

The prohibition of cannabis has caused huge damage to our society, environment and economy by preventing the cultivation of hemp. Although the industrial strains of the plant have no psychoactive potential, the absurd level of control has effectively destroyed its value as an agricultural crop. With that we have lost the most efficient producer of biomass in the natural world, the strongest natural fibre, a better fabric than cotton, a better paper than wood and one of the most ecologically important activities on the planet.

5.To educate and inform about the uses and benefits of cannabis

Prejudice is based on ignorance. In the case of cannabis there is also deliberate misinformation. It started with Randolph Hearst, the media, timber and oil magnate of the 1930s and it continues today with the vested interests of alcohol, tobacco, Big Pharma and, yes, media, timber and oil. The truth about cannabis is clear and we have to spread the truth in the face of ignorance and lies.

4. Summary

I urge you please, to take a step back and look at the embarrassment already suffered from the current UK Drugs Policy. Really, is it worth throwing another £6 billion into organised crime? Look at other countries within Europe making positive changes—don’t be left behind. Cannabis could be a wonderful thing for so many people if they were given the option to utilise it, but currently people are unable to explore the help or pleasure that this natural plant could bring them if legalised.

I hope you are able to come to a sensible and worthwhile decision regarding the control of cannabis.

January 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012