are in Activism / Government
to Frank action update - Cannabis explained
May 25th 2007
5th June 2007. The Home Office has informed UKCIA that they have sent the
Talk to Frank "Cannabis explained" action update to the Department of
Health to "review the content of the pack in response to your comments".
We also learned that UKCIA is not alone in its criticism of this publication -
see the KFx
30th June 2007. The Talk to Frank document "Cannabis explained"
was available in PDF form here
but has now been taken offline.
the following critique, text from the Talk to Frank publication is framed in the
boxes. Any typos and formatting errors are as presented in the document.
One important subject is not covered at all in this booklet - that of contamination.
The past year has seen an outbreak of "grit weed" - herbal cannabis
sprayed with glass beads, sand and glass fiber amongst other things. This is a
direct result of the police action designed to disrupt the commercial cannabis
supply and has resulted in an unknown health risk. It was the subject of a department
of health warning in January 2007 which was carried on the Talk to Frank website.
Hashish - the so-called "soapbar" has been known to be badly contaminated
for some time. So why was this important issue not covered?
outline of ACMD decision to keep cannabis as a class C illegal drug|
summary of "Frank in Action"|
summary of the laughable "Brain Warehouse" campaign from early 2007|
is cannabis? - contains factually wrong comments|
different types of cannabis - this page is utter fiction, almost total false information|
health risk claims|
and mental health|
the signs and harm reduction - Contains dangerously wrong advice |
11 - 12 ||The
law - few comments about this|
13 - 16||How
to help the Talk to Frank anti drugs advertising campaign.|
of the major short-term risks to physical health posed by cannabis consumption
is the impact on blood pressure and heart rate which is similar to that caused
by exercise." (page 8)
publication starts off as it intends to go on with a picture of what the people
at Frank think cannabis leaves look like;
would be funny if it weren't such a serious topic. If you're confused, the picture
is of leaves, yes, but not cannabis leaves, these come off trees.
has been used as a medicinal and psychoactive compound since ancient times. Known
to the Scythians, the Thracians and the ancient Hindus, it has been cultivated,
eaten, smoked and burned for religious and recreational purposes for thousands
has also long been recognised as a harmful substance that can have a damaging
effect on peoples mental and physical wellbeing. It has been prohibited
for personal use in the UK since 1928, and it remains illegal to this day.
first paragraph is true, the second is true in that cannabis has been illegal
since 1928. The "long been recognised..." bit however is not true, but
it sets the tone for the rest of the distorted information the booklet contains.
In fact, most of the claims made about the ill effects of cannabis have been shown
to be false.
January 29 2004, cannabis was reclassified from a Class B to a Class C drug in
line with the UK Governments Updated Drug Strategy. Two years later after
recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) the government
confirmed that cannabis would remain a Class C drug.
arguments for this decision are compelling and clear. Contrary to expectation,
reclassification has not led to an increase in consumption in fact since
1998, the use of cannabis in the previous year among 16-24 year-olds has fallen
by 24%. The ACMD has also advised that the evidence for a link between cannabis
and the development of mental health problems is stronger than the last time they
reviewed the classification, but still small. However, the key message remains
that while cannabis is considered less damaging than Class B drugs, it is still
harmful and it is certainly still illegal.
to expectation, reclassification has not led to an increase in consumption"
means contrary to the claims made by successive Home secretaries over the years,
claims which were made in support of their opposition to law reform. It should
be noted that only supporters of prohibition had this expectation, few others
did. Indeed, it undermines a basic assumption underpinning prohibition, but never
mental health debate hasn't gone as some had predicted either, despite the hype.
More about that later.
also fails to mention that other reports have placed cannabis as not only less
harmful than other class B drugs, but also less harmful than alcohol or tobacco,
two legal drugs.
FRANK Action Update aims to help you understand the issues surrounding cannabis.
Full of information,
facts and statistics, it explains why cannabis has retained
its Class C status, the legal implications of this
decision, and the ongoing
health risks associated with its use.
part of its report to the Government, the ACMD recommended that there was a greater
need for public
education and information on the subject, particularly aimed
at children, adolescents and young adults. This
pack aims to help address
that need, equipping you with the tools to communicate confidently to young
people and parents about cannabis.
only that were true. What follows is highly selective information, distorted facts
and even downright wrong statements, but then, this government was never known
for telling the truth.
core audience for this Update is those who currently work (or are seeking to work)
people aged 11-24
other words, this publication is aimed at workers who will be giving young people
advice and information about cannabis - the very people who's trust is needed
by these young people who want factual, honest and reliable information. This
publication contains very little of that.
a summary of Frank in Action.
about cannabis make up a considerable proportion of the calls taken by the FRANK
helpline. FRANK receives around 30,000 calls a month with 30% of those relating
to cannabis. The majority of calls tend to be from parents who are worried about
their son or daughter getting into cannabis and looking for advice on what they
can do about it. Health implications, and particularly mental health issues, are
also a concern for parents. After parents, the next key group of callers are people
who use cannabis asking questions about issues such as paranoia and looking for
advice on giving up.|
lets get this in proportion. Cannabis is by far the most widely used illegal drug
out there. It's been the subject of a barrage of media attention in recent times
and the Frank phone line has been well publicised. Yet cannabis accounts for only
30% - one third - of all their calls, most of which come from parents no doubt
responding to these stories. Sadly they don't say what accounts for the vast majority
of their calls, but it would be interesting to know.
rest of the page is some backslapping of a nationwide Frank campaign which happened
in "32 areas
around England with around 250 young volunteers". That
is hardly big league stuff, involving an average of only 7.8 young people each.
another bit of backslapping regarding the recent "Brain warehouse" campaign
which was, in fact, laughable and so well derided by a video on youtube.
2006, FRANK launched a national television and radio advertising campaign, as
well as increasing on-line advertising, to highlight the risks involved in taking
drugs, with a particular focus on cannabis.A series of Brain Warehouse
adverts rolled out, delivering the message that With stronger strains of
cannabis than ever before, the more you mess with cannabis, the more it messes
with your mind.|
fact that the claim of "stronger strains than ever before" is simply
not true isn't mentioned of course. This isn't simply over-egging the pudding
as so much of Frank's claims are, this is factually wrong, or at least impossible
to establish. It's certainly not true that stronger version of cannabis are available
now, cannabis oil has been around for a long time of course.
campaign research has revealed that young people dont generally regard cannabis
in terms of harm. Basing their views on personal experience, observation and hearsay,
young people believe that cannabis use does not automatically pose any risk to
ones mental or physical health; its certainly not seen to be as harmful
view confirmed by the recent Science Select Committee report in fact. Cannabis
was ranked well below alcohol in terms of harm.
often associated with cannabis were more lifestyle issues, such as
not going out, having no money, apathy, etc.
health problems were seen to be in part a consequence of an individuals
vulnerability,which was exacerbated by cannabis use. However, it was admitted
that these problems were viewed as more random and unpredictable than physical
fact, that is a correct perception and is a strong reason for introducing a regulated
regime for commercial cannabis sales and not one for continuing prohibition so
that children can be properly protected. Frank, of course, doesn't go there.
Brain Warehouse adverts build on this sense of uncertainty and risk.
The core campaign messages are:|
It is increasingly difficult to measure
the effects of cannabis, especially as it is stronger that its ever been
Its becoming more of a lottery to use cannabis: Will you chill
out or spin out
Messing with cannabis can mess with
Adverts at bus stops and bus panels were also used to extend the
Brain Warehouse theme in high focus areas,while scratch cards were
made available to FRANK Street Marketing Teams (SMTs) to help
people at street-level.
the lie of stronger than ever before is repeated, and this time the specific claim
is made, not simply of "stronger strains". This is misinformation, a
introduction to what cannabis actually is.
is a coarse, bushy annual plant with deeply lobed leaves and clusters of small
green flowers. Believed to have originated in the mountainous regions just north
of the Himalayas, cannabis now grows wild and under cultivation in many parts
of the world. It is one of the most commonly used recreational drugs on the planet.|
far so good. Frank then goes on to mention the hemp trade, all well and good.
No mention of the medical use was made though.
terms of its narcotic composition, cannabis contains various compounds called
cannabinoids, some of which are pharmacologically active. The most
significant of these is a chemical called delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
It is the THC in cannabis that, through interaction with receptors in the brain,
leads to relaxation, euphoria, attention diffusion, altered perception of time
and space, altered sense of smell, sight and taste and stimulation of appetite.
In short, its what gets you high.|
whatever it is, is certainly NOT a "narcotic", it's usually classed
as a "psychoactive" drug, although even that is debatable. This is an
example of the sloppy use of English Talk to Frank has become famous for. However,
we let it pass.
is a significant active chemical and it is partly right to say it's the one that
gets users stoned (few cannabis users get "high" in the UK) but the
"stoned" effect is the combined result of several active chemicals,
not just THC. Different strains have markedly different effects caused by the
differing ratios of active chemicals, in particular the role of CBD has long been
strains that are specifically cultivated for medicinal, spiritual and recreational
uses tend to have a high THC content,whereas certified industrial hemp variants
are low in THC. Different growers use different methods to achieve their desired
far so good
the past 20 years, advances in breeding and cultivation techniques have led to
a steady increase in the diversity, quality and potency of cannabis strains around
the world. These advances, such as the sinsemilla|
technique, include ways
of breeding plants using water based cultivation techniques or cloning and growing
plants under bright lights and behind closed doors. They mean that cannabis has
now developed into a more
potent drug than at any other time in its history.
Talk to Frank misinformation at it's most ugly. Most of the paragraph above is
Cannabis has always (for millions of years) been a highly diverse plant with many
different strains around the world and there has always been very strong cannabis.
Indeed cannabis has long been grown as "Sensimilla".
Cloning simply reproduces the same plant as the parent, it does not lead to increases
in potency. Likewise hydroponic cultivation will simply provide the ideal growing
environment, it won't, in itself, lead to more potent forms.
"They mean that cannabis has now developed into a more potent drug than at
any other time in its history." Is untrue.
little about the Rastafari religion
For Rastafarians, smoking marijuana is a spiritual act that is believed to cleanse
the body and the mind and bring them closer to their God, Jah. Many Rastafarians
regard cannabis as an African herb, and the smoking
of it part of their manifest
destiny to return to and reclaim the African continent. According to Rastafarian
belief, the will of Jah is clearly stated in the bible:
eat the herb of the field
ok. So does that make it legitimate then Frank? I would say so...
Today, cannabis is the most commonly used recreational drug
in the world. In the UK, data from the 2005/2006 British Crime Survey suggests
that 8.7% of 16 to 59 year olds had used cannabis in the preceding year.
use is particularly prevalent among young people, some of whom wrongly believe
a) that cannabis is now legal, and b) that it cannot cause any harm because it
comes from a plant and is therefore natural.
Among 11 to 15 year
olds in England in 20052:
Cannabis was the most frequently reported
illicit drug used in the preceding year, used
by 12%. Among 16 to 24 year
olds in England in 2005/061:
Cannabis was the most frequently reported
illicit drug used in the preceding year, used
was also the most frequently reported illicit drug used in the preceding month,
used by 13.0%.
there has been a decline in cannabis use since 1998. This has been sustained following
the reclassification of cannabis from Class B to Class C, and there is no evidence
to suggest any short-term
increase in use among young people since or as a
result of reclassification.
cannabis is the most commonly used recreational drug in the world." Is of
course wrong, that claim is held by alcohol sadly. Ah but then, alcohol isn't
a real drug, is it?
as Frank points out again, making cannabis less illegal (if that concept makes
sense) did not lead to an increase in use. How odd. If people think it's legal,
that's because the concept of making something "less illegal" is not
an easy one to grasp for people who aren't politicians or advertising agency people.
LOWDOWN - Talk to Frank digs his hole.
page explains the difference in the types of cannabis on sale and in the UK and
things get a bit hard to follow as Talk to Frank redefines the definitions of
cannabis types in a new and imaginative way.
A brownish substance rubbed or scraped from the
surface of dried cannabis leaves then pressed into solid blocks.
in colour from greenish-brown to black, likewise in consistency, ranging from
soft and crumbly to waxy and hard.
Sometimes eaten (in cookies or cakes),
but usually mixed with tobacco and smoked in a joint or spliff.
in strength and quality; mainly reaching the UK from Morocco, Pakistan, Afghanistan
and the Lebanon.
THC content: 2-10%*.
is brown, yes. That bit of the information is correct.
is (or should be) the glands of the cannabis plant rubbed, shaken or otherwise
removed from the flowering heads or the leaves surrounding them. By it's nature,
hash is (or should be) the active bits of the cannabis plant minus the vegetable
matter. It is therefore always going to be stronger than the plant it came from
simply because it's more concentrated. If hash really has a potency of around
2%, it must be pretty badly contaminated, in fact weak stuff like that can't really
be called hash at all. Hashish - the real stuff - can be very, very strong.
to Frank is probably quoting the strength of so-called "soap bar" or
"solid", a highly contaminated product common in the UK and well known
for being of very low quality.
may be that traditional high quality hashish was higher in CBD than some modern
strains selected to grow well indoors, but Frank wouldn't want to get into that
The leaves and flowering buds of the cannabis
plant, dried, chopped and often mixed with seeds or stem.
appearance,moving through shades of green and brown; leaves and twigs can be brittle
or powdery and dry.
Smoked, usually mixed with tobacco, in a joint,
spliff, pipe or bong.
Imported from Africa, South America, Holland,
Thailand and the Caribbean.
Some herbal cannabis is homegrown in the
THC content: 1-5%*.
containing a lot of stems is simply low grade cannabis, it's not a special type.
it gets interesting:
A seedless and naturally occurring variant
Grown in the absence
of male plants less common than marijuana but much stronger
THC content: 2-3 times higher than in hashish or marijuana*.
to Frank is useing the Spanish word "SINSEMILLA", which means "without
seeds". Whilst this is the correct use of the Spanish language, it is not
the name commonly used in the UK for cannabis grown in this way.
grown as unfertalised female plants is commonly known as SENSIMILLA or "sensi"
is not a "variant" however, it's the same plant grown as a female only
crop (cannabis comes in boy types and girl types, kill off the boys and you get
sensi, female flowers without seeds).
is what most home and commercial growers produce and always have produced, which
makes the next bit really strange:
A highly potent and artificially modified variant of herbal cannabis, renowned
for its strong smell and effects on the mind
Produced using a variety
of breeding and cultivation techniques
Once cultivated, prepared for
use by drying the unfertilised female flowering buds
mixed with tobacco, in a joint or spliff
Emerged from Western Europe,
particularly Holland, in the late twentieth century, replacing Sinsemilla as the
potent herb of choice among the cannabis community.
THC content: 8-20%*.
really difficult to comment on this rubbish without using sarcasm.
the sake of debate, the street term "skunk" will be accepted to mean
"sensi cannabis grown under lights", although it should be understood
that it is NOT a specific strain of the plant. Indeed many different strains are
grown in this way both hydroponically and in soil. "Skunk", as referred
to in street slang is therefore a widely variable product
"Skunk" was a name of a certain crossbreed of cannabis selected to grow
well under lights, it is in fact very rare that street "skunk" will
actually be "skunk".
various strains sold as "skunk" are NOT "artificially modified"
however, that is utter rubbish. Likewise it is NOT "renowned" for it's
effects on the mind (whatever that means) - outside of some gutter press tabloid
grown like any other plant, either from seed or from cutting.
all cannabis produced should be made from the flowering heads. If it's not, it's
simply low quality cannabis.
it's grown without male plants nearby, it IS sensimilla, but It hasn't replaced
sensi, it is sensi.
according to Talk to Frank, these are the three types of herbal cannabis. The
truth is somewhat different.
fact cannabis comes - and always has come - in three principle strains: Indica,
Sativa and Ruderalis. All three strains can be crossed to produce plants which
grow well in a range of different conditions or with noticeably different effects
on the user. It is by cross breeding that strains have been selected which grow
well in grow room conditions under artificial light. Cross breeding is a technique
used by farmers for thousands of years and most of the food we eat, animal and
vegetable, is the product of such cross breeding. It is not a new science.
there may be some real issues to address:
It is true to add that many of the strains being grown today are fairly recent
cross breeds. The original strains, grown organically for thousands of years in
the traditional cannabis growing countries (and which are so often claimed to
have been a far safer product by the media), have been the focus of crop eradication
programs in recent times. The UK government has been deeply involved in this eradication
The economic conditions created by cannabis prohibition may have meant some plant
types being selected not for quality of product, but for ease of growing in confined
spaces and in short time spans.
In addition intensive commercial grows may use large amounts of chemical pesticides,
perhaps leaving residues in the product offered for sale.
Any change in the potency or available strains of cannabis over the past 10 -
20 years has happened in response to economic pressures created by the policy
This, of course, is a situation brought about by the policy Talk to Frank promotes
also worth pointing out as a side comment that the cannabis used to make the medicine
"Sativex" is, according to Talk to Frank's definition, "skunk"
because of the way it is grown.
This is rarely seen or used on the street
A dark, sticky liquid refined from cannabis resin
Prepared by passing
a solvent through the resin
Smoked with ordinary tobacco: either smeared
on the cigarette paper or mixed in with the tobacco
THC content: average,
30% but can be much higher*.
Frank doesn't mention oil used to be quite common, back in the 60's/70's, when
cannabis was supposed to have been so weak. Oil can be very, very strong indeed.
this point we have an error, the source of which is easy to identify:
TCH contents sourced from Young People and Cannabis, Healthwise 2004|
classic case of "cut and paste" without checking: It's THC, not TCH
of course. The documant quoted as a reference doesn't seem to be available online,
but the above ref is a cut and paste from a previous Talk to Frank publication
out the facts) which contains even more misleading and wrong statements about
cannabis including that proof reading error.
summary, this page is utter garbage and simply misleadingly wrong information.
Clearly it hasn't been checked or even proof read. It is quite unacceptable for
a supposedly factual document put out by government.
Whether it is consumed as resin, herb or oil, cannabis gives rise
to a broad spectrum of psychological and physical effects. These effects can depend
on a number of factors, such as the species and hybridisation of
plant, the strength and purity of the variant, how much is consumed, the environment
in which it is used, and the mental and physical condition of the user.
short, as with any drug, cannabis can be unpredictable.
Talk to Frank means here is that different strains of the plant can give very
different effects. This is because different strains contain different amounts
of the various active ingredients.
to frank warns that cannabis can be unpredicatble for two fundemental reasons:
Impurities - contamination - may make a significant impact on the effect the user
feels. Contamination of course is a symptom of an unregulated illegal trade, made
worse by police efforts to disrupt the trade. Such contamination is, of course
by it's nature, totally unpredictable. High levels of contamination (expressed
as low purity levels) are used as an indicator of "success" of the prohibitionist
policy by the government. If cannabis were legal, it would not suffer from contamination.
Cannabis can be unpredictable because the law of prohibition (which frank is there
to support) makes it impossible to know what strain of cannabis is offered for
sale, or how strong the sample is. If cannabis were legal, it would not be unpredictable
in this way.
These two warnnigs are therefore caused not by the plant as such, but by the regime
it exists under.
does depend on where it's used, and again prohibition makes it difficult to use
cannabis in safe places, forcing it's use "underground".
mental and physical condition of the user, as with any activity, is indeed important.
should be noted that prohibition makes all of these aspects far worse than they
would otherwise be, but of course, Talk to Frank exists to deflect such criticism.
Similar amounts of the same substance will have different effects on different
people. After a few tokes (puffs) on a spliff, some people will feel nothing at
all,while others will get an immediate hit. Other factors determining the effects
of cannabis include:|
Whether cannabis is smoked or eaten
Whether a filter system is used (and how effective this system is)
Whether other drugs, including alcohol and prescribed medicines, are used alongside
Whether the person taking the drug has high or low cannabis
mostly fair enough, except of course, eating cannabis would be as predictable
as smoking if it weren't for the uncertainties created by prohibition.
Short-term effects include:
Mild sedation and relaxation
Intense concentration and mental clarity
Reduced attention span
Altered perception of time and space
Altered sight, hearing and sense of smell
Stimulation of appetite (known
as the munchies).
that's called "getting stoned"
cannabis has also been found to:|
Increase the pulse
Cause dizziness and disorientation
loss of coordination and locomotive skills
Give people the giggles
Slow reaction times
agitation and anxiety
Induce nausea and vomiting
awareness of colours and patterns
Stimulate sexual arousal and heighten
Affect the immune system
eyes and dry mouth.
the claim that cannabis can "affect the immune system" seems a little
out of place there. Actually, it's highly debatable if it actually happens. Beyond
that, these are hardly in the same league as the effects of alcohol.
The use of more than one drug at a time can be dangerous and unpredictable.
Cannabis is no exception, and mixing hash, resin or skunk with other substances
can greatly exacerbate their associated risks and effects. Combining cannabis
with alcohol, for instance, can increase the risks of accidents, while mixing
cannabis with hallucinogens might lead to a really bad trip.
phrase "mixing hash, resin or skunk" reads as if they struggled a bit
with that section and looks like another cut and paste error. Hash of course is
resin and in any case all three are the same substance.
is a dangerous drug to mix with just about any drug, legal or not.
is classed as an hallucinogen and is not known for causing problems when taken
alongside LSD or mushrooms, especially at the comedown end of a trip.
it's probably good advice not to mix drugs, an interesting and glaring omission
here is advice not to mix cannabis with tobacco.
Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has reported that one of the major
short-term risks to physical health posed by cannabis consumption is the impact
on blood pressure and heart rate which is similar to that caused by exercise.
This can be dangerous for people with coronary artery disease, irregular heart
rhythms or high blood pressure, especially if they are not aware of it. The effects
of cannabis on coordination and concentration can also result in accidents, particularly
if people attempt to drive or operate machinery while under the influence of the
an example of talk to frank prose which cries out for a sarcastic comment which
we will resist.
of the major short-term risks to physical health posed by cannabis consumption
is the impact on blood pressure and heart rate which is similar to that caused
has to be a classic, the ultimate, anti drug health warning. So are they going
to ban football now? What a stupid thing to say as a general warning.
good advice not to drive or operate machinery when stoned though.
There is little conclusive evidence about the exact longer-term effects
of cannabis consumption.
After some 2000+ years of experience of people using cannabis they still haven't
found any real long term harm, but lets not let that stop us:
is certain, however, is that cannabis is harmful and can have severe negative
impacts on peoples mental and physical wellbeing. |
is "certain" despite there being no real evidence to support that claim.
cannabis, for instance, can worsen asthma and cause damage to the respiratory
tract that is at least|
equal to, if not greater than, the damage caused by
there are many ways to smoke cannabis and there's plenty of scope for a safer
smoking campaign, especially in relation to the use of tobacco. It is true that
smoking can make asthma worse, but it is also true that cannabis can significantly
reduce the symptoms.
is also increased incidence of chronic bronchitis and a potential risk of lung
and throat cancer in|
long-term smokers of cannabis.
isn't good for you. But this"potential" for an increased risk of cancer?
Apart from one small study from New Zealand it appears that THC actually inhibits
cancerous growth. Scare mongering isn't fact.
Exposure to cannabis during pregnancy, meanwhile, can have adverse effects on
a foetus similar to those caused by tobacco.|
any drug during pregnancy is to be avoided, that's not advice specific to cannabis.
is also evidence that frequent use of cannabis over a long period of time can
lead to fertility problems in both men and women. In particular, the THC in cannabis
can affect sperm function,making it less likely for sperm to reach the female
egg, and therefore making it more difficult for couples to conceive.|
cannot be used as a contraceptive and cannabis using people can and often do have
is that the worst they can come up with? These are the health risks which justify
criminalising millions of people remember.
be honest. Heavy use of any drug, epsecially over an extended period is going
to have unwanted side effects. Drink lots of booze and much worse things will
happen to you then the above.
but there's more:
and mental health
Note: Whatever the truth behind the relationship between cannabis and mental illness,
given the correlation that exists and the age of people affected - and for several
other reasons - it clearly makes sense to have measures which are designed to
keep children away from the cannabis trade and culture. UKCIA does not dispute
that and indeed regards it as a major reason for campaigning for a legalised,
regulated commercial supply.
cannabis and mental health information
follows are comments related to the information provided in "Cannabis Explained"
within the context they are made, ie the relationship between cannabis and the
onset of severe mental illness. The Talk to Frank document does not explore the
options for controlling the commercial supply of cannabis, nor restrictions which
may be desirable in that trade. The worst omission in the document is it makes
no special case for treating children as being at a higher risk than adults, probably
because, under prohibition, it isn't possible to do so.
AND MENTAL HEALTH
In recent years, growing medical evidence has pointed to
correlations between cannabis use and the onset or exacerbation of mental health
problems correlations that have been further complicated by the rise in
high-potency strains. Some people believe that cannabis may trigger latent psychological
problems such as depression, psychosis and schizophrenia.
people believe". This is supposed to be a factual document remember.
is a correlation between cannabis and mental illness, but that doesn't mean a
causal link. The correlation could be due to many reasons, such as people suffering
mental illness simply using drugs far more than people who aren't ill - the clearest
example of that of course is tobacco smoking, which is rife amongst ill people,
as is heavy drinking. It maybe pertinent to consider the link between cannabis
and tobacco in this context.
may also be that antipsychotic medication interacts with cannabis in a damaging
way, there are many possible explanations for the apparent link.
2005 the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) undertook a review of
the reclassification of cannabis, including an in-depth look at recent research
claiming causal links between cannabis and mental|
health problems. The report,
The mental health effects of cannabis are real and
significant. They include:
Adverse effects on the performance of tasks
that require sustained attention and physical control and coordination, such as
are not "mental health effects", they are simply intoxication effects.
Acute intoxication reactions, such as panic attacks, paranoia and confusion, very
occasionally resulting in hospitalisation|
Very, very rarely is hospitalisation needed. Although "getting
the worries" is a fairly common experience it is rarely a serious problem.
Again, compared to alcohol these effects are pretty mild.
Dependence, related to the duration and amount of the drug used, as well as the
characteristics of the user, although substantially less common than with heroin
and crack cocaine|
- as with many other activities - can induce dependence which can be hard to break,
but this should not be confused with the type of addiction associated with heroin,
crack or tobacco.
Precipitation of relapse in individuals with schizophrenia.|
is important and is a real risk to people with severe mental illness from using
cannabis. It is, however, a specific risk to ill people and not to the population
at large. There may be special reasons for risk, as mentioned above.
Talk to Frank goes on to say:
However,while the evidence suggests a causal association exists, the consumption
of cannabis is neither a necessary, nor a sufficient, cause for the development
of schizophrenia. In the last year, over three million people appear to have used
cannabis, but very few will ever develop schizophrenia. And many people who|
develop schizophrenia have never consumed cannabis. Based on the available data,
the use of cannabis makes only a small contribution to an individuals risk
for developing schizophrenia.
is very important information regarding cannabis and mental health, yet it's hidden
at the foot of the page following all of the above.
the ACMD report states that cannabis is without doubt a harmful substance, but
that it is significantly less harmful than other drugs, such as amphetamines,
barbiturates or codeine, that are currently controlled as Class B under the Misuse
of Drugs Act 1971.|
It's also significantly less harmful than alcohol, which isn't included in the
Misuse of Drugs act at all. Why isn't this mentioned?
Talk to Frank doesn't make a case for treating children as being at an increased
risk from using cannabis compared to adults. This has been the thrust of the campaign
by such groups as RETHINK the mental health charity. Of course, under a prohibition
regime, there's nothing that can be done to keep kids away from cannabis, so Frank
chooses to say nothing on the issue.
These could be signs that someone might be using cannabis but remember
that some of these could just be normal aspects of teenage behaviour. These include:
If you're not open about drug use with your kids, you need to resort to spying
techniques, here's what to look for:
Stains and smells: fingers, hands and clothing can become soiled and stained,while
the smell of cigarette-smoke and cannabis can linger for some time.
Lack of money
or sudden bouts of acute hunger
Secretiveness: drug users tend to be
very closed off, reluctant to share information
even with friends.
Sleepiness and drowsiness
Sudden changes in behaviour
of interest in school, hobbies,work, sport, friends
Loss of concentration
additional signs of cannabis use, you may find that paraphernalia is more evident
than the substance itself. Things to look out for include:
Discarded lighters and matches
Homemade pipes or bongs
Cigarette papers, torn cigarette packets.
not just be open and have a good relationship with your kids about such things?
But just in case you're not really worried:
of long-term dependency and harm might include:|
Severe coughing, bronchitis
Worsening asthmatic conditions
than likely associated with tobacco use, but I suppose that's ok?
Deteriorating mental health, including depression, anxiety and psychosis, or sudden
relapses into schizophrenia for those already suffering from this problem.|
could be due to a whole range of causes, but yes, they would be reasons to be
concerned for your kids whether or not they were using cannabis.
There are a number of things you can do to minimise the risks
associated with cannabis use the obvious one being smoke less or stop, but:
goes the "don't use", "abstinence" message of a prohibition
campaign, there's much more you can do in fact, lets see what Talk to Frank suggests:
Roll it and use a filter. Research suggests that a joint is the least harmful
way to smoke cannabis*, leading to less carbon monoxide being inhaled. However,
with or without tobacco, smoking cannabis can still be a risky business.|
It is unbelievable that a supposedly factual document promoting harm reduction
would contain such an error. It is utterly wrong, stupid information which seems
designed to re-eforce the cannabis-tobacco connection. It can only have been written
as a cut and paste job by someone who hasn't got the remotest idea what they are
talking about and the resulting draft not having been checked.
This advice probably has it's roots in some research done years ago in the USA,
which claimed to find that cannabis smoked in joints gave more of a hit for the
amount of smoke inhaled. However, this was from the USA, where they don't mix
tobacco with cannabis. Smoking tobacco in joints is perhaps the biggest health
risk cannabis users face.
often think that eating cannabis is the safest option, but this can in fact be
dangerous and unpredictable.|
because of the uncertainties caused by prohibition in terms of strength and purity
of the sample used. If it weren't for prohibition eating or drinking cannabis
food would indeed be safer than smoking it.
When sharing a pipe, run the flame of a lighter over the mouthpiece before and
after each toke. This will help to eradicate cold viruses and may reduce the chances
of catching something more serious, such as cold-sores, flu, or even Hepatitis
3. Dont mix cannabis with other drugs. Mixing drugs of any kind can
be dangerous and unpredictable. Poly drug use is a major cause of drug-related
4. Cannabis and alcohol together often cause people to spin out and
feel sick, so smoking when drunk isnt a good idea.
5. Some people believe
that holding down a lung-full of smoke can greatly enhance a hit.
Recent research has contradicted this theory, suggesting that the only thing that
will be gained by doing this is an increase in carbon monoxide absorption.
6. Dont drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of cannabis.
This can lead to serious accidents and drug driving is just as illegal as drink
point 4 - alcohol isn't a drug again, is it? Otherwise reasonable advice except
they do not mention the tobacco connection and the desirability of toking pure.
UKCIA would add - as a first and most important bit of information never mix cannabis
with tobacco. Whatever the risks of cannabis might be, tobacco is known killer
and carcinogen and is strongly addictive. So what if it's legal?
11 and 12 relate to the law as it applies to cannabis, stupid as it all may be.
We won't comment beyond that.
13 - 16 are all about getting the anti cannabis message across:
its recent report to Government, the ACMD stressed that there was a greater need
for public education and information, particularly aimed at children, adolescents
and young adults. The local level is vital as part of this|
and outlined below are a number of pointers and ideas for action to help you meet
this challenge head-on.
the full truth is not encouraged.
Following reclassification from Class B to Class
C in 2004, some people have taken the message to be cannabis is harmless
is what the tabloid papers say, it isn't true. Cannabis is less harmful compared
to legal drugs alcohol and tobacco in many respects and this is well understood
by people. Also, this government is well known for controlling information as
well as telling lies in order to justify it's policies. This is particularly true
with respect to drugs.
rest of the publication outline what it wants to see happen in order to spread
the misinformation contained in the publication in order to promote the present
to the Goverment on drugs
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