Tom Chivers

Of course marijuana isn’t ‘safe’ – but should it be illegal?

Sometimes I read things that really get on my wick, and last week was one of those times. A new, ‘definitive’ 20-year study has ‘demolished the argument that the drug [cannabis] is safe’, according to the Daily Mail.

Has it, though? There are various things wrong with that claim. One, no study is ‘definitive’; two, the research was not a ’20-year study’, but a review of other studies carried out over the last 20 years. There are lots other things wrong with the coverage, too, including the startlingly ridiculous claim that cannabis is ‘as addictive as heroin’. Even according to the research itself, less than one-tenth of people who try cannabis become addicted to it, compared to nearly a quarter for heroin. It also said that cannabis ‘opens the door to hard drugs’, which, again, the research itself does not support.

But the most important problem is that it is demolishing an argument (apparently) that no one sensible is making. Oh, no doubt you could dig around on the internet and find a few pink-eyed hippies telling you that smoking weed makes you live longer, but none of the serious people – the former police chiefs and former heads of state and former high court judges – who back decriminalisation think that cannabis is safe. It patently isn’t. While you can’t overdose on it, there is a plausible causal link to mental-health problems, and if you’re smoking it, you’re increasing your chances of getting all the hundreds of diseases that smoking causes.

All the questions about whether it is ‘more’ or ‘less’ dangerous or addictive than any other drug, including tobacco and alcohol, are irrelevant as well.

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