was interested to hear of the launch of Talk to Frank, we very much welcome a
move away from the "just say no" approach to drugs.
we have some serious reservations about the nature of the information given out
by Frank which we would like to ask that you address. So sorry, this is a very
general, the advice and information you give is very good. However, we have complaints
regarding the cannabis section.
a long time we've been told of all sorts of nasty harm cannabis can cause, much
of which has been discredited. However, looking at Frank, cannabis is a very nasty,
dangerous substance indeed. All the comments you make are negative and you make
some alarming claims Also, some of the information is simply wrong:
says: "Cannabis is not something that dealers mix anything with, But
some unsuspecting people have been known to buy blocks of mud, stock cubes and
garden herbs from people pretending to be dealers".
So-called "soap bar" is well known for being badly contaminated with
all sorts of nasty stuff. It would have been more honest had you warned of the
dangers caused *directly by the law* and the unregulated market here, but you
fail to do so. You do say of alcohol that "Because it's legal and sold only
in licensed premises, most alcohol is unadulterated by anything very nasty".
Which is true, so why not warn of the dangers of the unlicenced, unregulated cannabis
market? Click here
also mention people sometimes get ripped off by dealers, it's true, but why not
also warn that on occassion some dealers offer other substances to people wanting
to buy cannabis that are a little more than garden herbs?
says: "Much like a cigarette, the effects are immediate and last about
smoked the effects are pretty fast acting, but not immediate. For a total non-smoker
having a first puff on a tobacco spliff, the head-spinning hit which happens at
once is caused by the tobacco, not the cannabis. The cannabis high will come along
some time later, maybe as long as 10 - 20 mins later. How long it lasts depends
on how much is smoked. Bongs etc are faster acting but still not immediate.
says: "Smoking a spliff makes most people happy, relaxed and at peace
with the world but the effects vary from person to person. Some people have one
puff and feel sick. Others get the giggles until the muscles in their faces hurt.
last bit about face muscles is just stupid, it doesn't happen.
says: "Cannabis is quite an introspective drug. Once stoned, users can
find hidden depths in daytime television/ the most unlikely song lyrics".
stoned is an introspective experience, true. It certainly does allow people to
listen deeply to music, experiencing layers of complexity in the composition.
Similar things can happen with images. This is why artists use cannabis to great
effect in making music and works of art. Indeed, it's probably the reason most
people use cannabis. So why not point out the creative aspects - you do point
out the good side of ecstasy, so why rubbish it with cannabis?
says "It affects co-ordination. So it can make people a bit unsteady
on their feet. Doing complicated things like operating machinery is not a good
people don't stagger around like drunks which this seems to imply, being very
stoned can make movement difficult though but again in some ways cannabis can
improve concentration and may even help with certain complex tasks, particularly
with artistic composition, also lot of IT "geeks" use cannabis when
doing tekie stuff. Again, you only mention the negative, not the positive potential.
though that you don't warn people not to drive when stoned, We know the Transprt
research lab study showed cannabis was less dangerous than alcohol in this respect,
but it would still be good advice.
we get the "flip side" - as if the above wasn't negative enough!
says: "Some people get so chilled they lose their inhibitions altogether".
Frank, that is utter rubbish. That is probably the one thing cannabis does not
do, indeed, it's quite the opposite. Some people, when they get very stoned, become
introverted and can dwell on personal or other problems.
Frank is talking about intimate sexual encounters here, if so, why not say it?
Some - if not most - people would consider that a positive attribute of cannabis
says: "Even hardcore smokers can get anxious, panicky and suspicious".
is what can happen if you become too inward looking when stoned. However, for
most people this is not a serious problem, but it's good advice not to use cananbis
if this happens repeatedly.
says: "Cannabis screws with short-term memory".
stoned, yes. Not permanently though.
Jamaican Study 1974: "No impairment of physiological, sensory and perceptual
performance, tests of concept formation, abstracting ability, and cognitive style,
and tests of memory"
Commission Report, 1944 "Cannabis smoking does not lead directly to mental
or physical deterioration... Those who have consumed marijuana for a period of
years showed no mental or physical deterioration which may be attributed to the
says: "Eating or drinking the drug delays the effects and can make them
stronger and longer lasting".
the effects stronger and longer lasting is not a flip side! Eating or drinking
cannabis also avoids the dangers associated with smoking. The only real problem
with eating or drinking cannabis is the uncertainty of the strength of the cannabis
you cook with. If cannabis were properly regulated and sold in graded strengths
this would not be a problem. Again, you mention a danger caused by the law, without
mentioning it's the law causing the danger. Why?
the "Chances of getting hooked" section
says: "Users are more likely to get addicted to nicotine if they roll
their spliffs with tobacco".
why not advise users to smoke cannabis in pipes - or better still water pipes
or vapourisers? Actually, this is probably the most serious aspect of cannabis
use to address. Smoking with tobacco creates a craving for another smoke. Because
two drugs are being used in combination, smoking either alone won't really satisfy
the craving so another spliff gets rolled. Cannabis users who stop using tobacco
find their consumption of cannabis drops significantly and their use becomes far
why not give this simple and blindingly obvious bit of advice - If you smoke cannabis,
smoke it pure without tobacco ? See UKCIA Toke pure - Click here
1997, (R. v Clay), Ontario Justice John McCart ruled, "Cannabis is not an
addictive substance; does not cause amotivational syndrome; and health related
costs of cannabis use are negligible when compared to the costs attributable to
tobacco and alcohol consumption." His findings were confirmed by B.C. Justice
F.E. Howard in a similar case in 1998.|
says: "If you have been using for a long time, worth you might want to
think about counselling. Your local drug agency can offer help and advice".
do we get the idea this hasn't really been properly written?
because someone's been using cannabis for a long time doesn't always mean they
have a problem anyway, it might mean they enjoy it.
then we get the risks:
says: "Most of the risks associated with cannabis are linked to regular,
problems associated to anything are linked to regular, heavy use, cannabis is
no exception to that rule. Frank is careful not to say there are few if any risks
with moderate use, why is this?
says: "Smoking cannabis may be more harmful than smoking tobacco. Cannabis
has a higher concentration of chemical 'nasties' that cause cancer".
note the use of the words "may be" as in truth this is very open to
debate and not proven. Not only that but users of pure cannabis breath in much
less smoke than tobacco smokers because cannabis doesn't produce a craving and
far smaller amounts are actually smoked.
a water pipe and smoking small amounts of stronger varieties reduces the potential
dangers further. Indeed there is research which even suggests cannabis reduces
the risk of cancer ("Marijuana Use and Mortality" American Journal of
public health, April 1997).
why then make alarmist statements which are not proven?
not give sensible advice on how to reduce what risk there may be?
at the University of California (UCLA) School of Medicine announced the results
of an 8 - year study into the effects of long-term cannabis smoking on the lungs.
In Volume 155 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine,
Dr. D.P. Tashkin reported: "No differences were noted between even quite
heavy marijuana smoking and nonsmoking of marijuana."
Study of Chronic Marijuana Use; Institute of Human Issues "Users in our matched-pair
sample smoked marijuana in addition to as many tobacco cigarettes as did their
matched non-using pairs. Yet their small airways were, if anything, a bit healthier
than their matches. We must tentatively conclude either that marijuana has no
harmful effect on such passages or that it actually offers some slight protection
against harmful effects of tobacco smoke"
says: "Smoking anything can give you heart problems, bronchitis and cancer.
Smoking it with tobacco can get you hooked on tobacco".
true - don't smoke it with tobacco and breath in as little smoke as possible -
says: "Cannabis can make asthma worse".
can also make it betterFrank
says "Regular, heavy use makes it harder to learn and concentrate. Being
stoned all the time isn't going to win anyone 'Employee Of The Month'"
So the message
should be don't use it heavily for long periods! Regular, heavy use of anything
won't make you employee of the month, that's not advice particular to cannabis
and is much truer for nearly any other drug.
we get this:
says: "Frequent use of cannabis can cut a man's sperm count and suppress
ovulation in women".
message are you trying to put across there? we'd be very interested to see the
research which shows cannabis in any way reduces the chances of having kids. This
is such a stupid thing to say that it may even encourage young people to think
that getting stoned would reduce the risk of getting pregnant and hence - given
what you claim above about "losing inhibitions" above - could encourage
kids not to use condoms.
says: "Some research has made a link between cannabis and mental illnesses
like schizophrenia. If you've got a history of mental illness in the family you
should think very carefully about getting stoned".
research, it's not proof by a long way. However, it would have been less alarmist
to simply say something like "if you find cannabis has unpleasant effects
- and some people certainly do - don't use it". Also, again the simple advice
of "use with moderation" is totally missing, although you do give that
advice for alcohol.
says: "Smoking cannabis when pregnant can harm the baby. There's an increased
risk of birth defects, miscarriage and sudden infant death syndrome. Babies also
tend to be lower in birth weight".
general advice about smoking when pregnant, not especially about smoking cannabis.
Again, why not point out the alternatives of non-smoking methods?
Marijuana Exposure and Neonatal Outcomes in Jamaica:
An Ethnographic Study
Melanie C. Dreher, PhD; Kevin Nugent, PhD; and Rebekah Hudgins, MA
and main results. Exposed and nonexposed neonates were compared at 3 days and
1 month old, using the Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Scale, including supplementary
items to capture possible subtle effects. There were no significant differences
between exposed and nonexposed neonates on day 3. At 1 month, the exposed neonates
showed better physiological stability and required less examiner facilitation
to reach organized states. The neonates of heavy-marijuana-using mothers had better
scores on autonomic stability, quality of alertness, irritability, and self-regulation
and were judged to be more rewarding for caregivers.
The absence of any differences between the exposed on nonexposed groups in the
early neonatal period suggest that the better scores of exposed neonates at 1
month are traceable to the cultural positioning and social and economic characteristics
of mothers using marijuana that select for the use of marijuana but also promote
neonatal development. Pediatrics 1994;93:254-260; prenatal marijuana exposure,
neonatal outcomes, Jamaica, Brazelton scale supplementary items.
then follows a massive legal section, way bigger than, say, the legal section
about crack. The fact that you need to explain this in such great depths is no
doubt because of the widespread acceptance of cannabis, however anyone glancing
at this will be given the clear impression that cannabis is the main focus for
enforcement, which isn't true.
how well does Frank work offline?
doesn't address the old chestnut of whether cannabis leads onto other drugs.
A ukcia person e-mailed you with the question:
cannabis lead onto other drugs?"
reply was that Frank can't answer that one in e-mail, so he phoned for a chat.
The helper gave a straight answer that it doesn't, but also seemed to imply some
cultural connection with "other drugs", although she dismissed the idea
of dealers offering other drugs, which enough of us know from personal experience
happens only too often. Again though, this is a problem caused by the law, not
assistant promised to send some information about cannabis by post. An envelope
arrived with a note from the National drugs helpline saying "sorry we have
run out of the information you requested and it may be out of print". There
was also a small credit card sized card which had in big letters
For accurate information and advice on drugs, health and the
law call the ... National drugs helpline 0800 77 66 00
on the back|
IS ILLEGAL AND WILL REMAIN ILLEGAL|
Although the government is proposing to
reduce the penalties for the possession of cannabis, it will remain a criminal
offence leading to a possible fine or imprisonment
0800 77 66 00
vist to the NDH website re-directs to Frank, phoning the NDH number also connects
to Frank so we were back at the start. A classic example of a revolving door.
if you're going to do this, then lets have proper, honest and balanced information
and not law enforcement dressed up as concerned good advice.
cannabis section, Frank, is no more than "spin"