PETER HITCHENS: The ‘elites’ hellbent on legalising marijuana couldn’t care less about the families they obliterate!
By PETER HITCHENS FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY PUBLISHED: 14 October 2018
Just as modish elite opinion swings ever more swiftly towards legalising marijuana, shocking and undeniable new evidence of its grave and frightening harms comes to light. Which will win? Fashion, and the prejudice of the chattering class? Or common sense?
The truth about this very dangerous and far-from-soft drug can no longer be hidden. As The Mail on Sunday reveals today, there have been more than 125,000 hospital admissions related to cannabis or similar drugs in the past five years. These are concentrated among the young. Just how ill did the users of this supposedly harmless drug have to be, for them to end up in hospital casualty departments? How many others suffered panic and misery alone and untreated?
Yet this country faces a grim race, between a fanatical and sometimes greedy campaign to decriminalise marijuana at all costs, and the accumulating evidence that such a move would be an irreparable disaster.
This country faces a grim race, between a fanatical and sometimes greedy campaign to decriminalise marijuana at all costs, and the accumulating evidence that such a move would be an irreparable disaster
For years, the billionaire-backed proponents of a cannabis free-for-all have sneered at warnings offered by me and many others that the drug is a major danger to mental health. Where was the proof of the damage it did, they would ask, ignoring the tragic evidence in every town centre of homeless, shattered, trembling men and women, plainly broken by drug abuse. These wicked cynics have, I believe, known all along that many individuals and families would pay a high and painful price for their pleasure, wealth and convenience.
In much the same way, Big Tobacco knew for years that cigarettes were doing terrible damage to smokers, but carried on making millions from them and resisted attempts to restrict advertising and sales.
The marijuana lobby, who I call Big Dope, are equally ready to overlook the horror of irreversible mental illness, for what some of them see as a good cause, and others see as a pot of gold.
At a debate on the subject at Durham University on Monday, in which I opposed decriminalisation, supporters of drug legalisation openly conceded that marijuana does damage the mental health of some of its users.
But it seems they don’t really care. They have dismissed as ‘anecdotal’ hundreds of individual stories in which the link between the drug and mental illness has been startling. Psychiatrists have little doubt. Dr Humphrey Needham-Bennett, medical director and consultant psychiatrist of the Cygnet Hospital in Sevenoaks, Kent, says that among his patients ‘cannabis use is so common that I assume that people use or used it. It’s quite surprising when people say, “No, I don’t use drugs.” ’ Even then, they may not be telling the truth. Other psychiatrists report that cannabis use is now so common among the young that many who smoke it do not even regard it as a drug.
Yet, until very recently, there was hardly any research into the link, and when it took place, in a Swedish Army survey that showed a clear connection, it was ignored
An enormous, wealthy and powerful lobby wants marijuana laws liberalised at almost any cost, and will, if it is not stopped, force its views on this country very soon
When the great foreign correspondent Patrick Cockburn bravely disclosed the harrowing story of his son Henry’s descent into severe mental illness after smoking marijuana at his Canterbury grammar school, he suddenly discovered that many friends and colleagues had been quietly hiding similar tragedies. He said he was ‘amazed to discover how many friends had a relative disabled by schizophrenia. The common feature in these tragedies was that the victim had taken cannabis in significant quantities at a young age.’
So why did these facts have so little impact? As Patrick puts it ‘supporters of decriminalisation in the media and among the intelligentsia see cannabis as harmless and discount opposition to it as ill-informed prejudice’.