I WAS very concerned about the words of Judge Alan Goldsack concerning cannabis as recently reported in The Star and wrote to him to say that while he is entitled to pass judgement in accordance with the law and to hold his own opinions, the view that ‘cannabis is a dangerous drug’ is neither a matter of law nor of opinion. It is determined by scientific evidence and, clearly, cannabis cannot accurately be described as ‘dangerous’.
Prof Les Iversen, chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs repeatedly describes cannabis as ‘safe’. A recent analysis of hospital admissions, mortality, toxicity and propensity to psychosis showed cannabis as nearly 3,000 times safer than alcohol. The therapeutic ratio of cannabis (the ratio of effective dose to lethal dose) is 1:20000 (alcohol is 1:20, paracetamol 1:35, many prescription medicines below 1:5).
The Sentencing Council will publish new drug offences guidelines in October. In the meantime, Judge Goldsack can exercise his discretion and there are many different types of cannabis growers each of which should be be dealt with justly.
Even where commercial gain is the objective I still find it difficult to understand how growing cannabis can routinely be treated more severely than violent assault or paedophilia.
Where, as in many cases, cannabis is grown for private consumption, often for medicinal purposes, it is an affront to natural justice that a severe penalty can be imposed.
Approximately three tonnes of cannabis is consumed in Britain every day. The demand is colossal; prohibition has been an expensive failure. A tax and regulate policy would contribute £6.7 billion a year to the UK exchequer and massively reduce all health and social harms. Change in the law is on the way.
I appeal to Judge Goldsack to be merciful to those who grow cannabis for personal use and to discharge completely anyone who needs it as medicine.
Peter Reynolds, leader,
Cannabis Law Reform