High society

Drugs don’t liberate – quite the opposite

13 October 2012

How thrilling it is when someone finally stages a demonstration against you. All right, it was a very small protest (one person), and it was in Southampton on a wet Sunday morning. But it was all mine. Stretched by the roadside was a dank bedsheet bearing the words ‘Peter Hitchens is a hypocritical racist alcoholic. Spread your bile elsewhere. No one cares what you have to say.’ I don’t accept this as entirely accurate, but, under the circumstances, why quibble? Also, it made me think.

Standing beside it, smirking, was a person in a woolly hat and sunglasses. He had a striking pallor, the sort you might get from spending many months in a basement with a computer, converting sugary drinks into lard. What had provoked this manifestation of political rage and personal scorn? After a brief and unsatisfactory conversation, in which our minds did not meet, I grasped that the problem was my view that we should have laws against cannabis, and that they should be enforced. My critic thinks that this drug is a moral cause. For him, the freedom to take it ranks alongside the freedoms of speech, thought and assembly. There are many like him and a surprising number are conservatives, or write for conservative publications.

This seems to me to be plain wrong, in many ways. Cannabis users may think they are islands of joy. But they often inflict dreadful harm on others, especially their own families. Many of them are far too young to know what they are doing, endangering not just their intelligence and their schooling, but perhaps their very sanity. Those who doubt this should reflect on the painful fate of Henry Cockburn, son of Patrick, so movingly recorded in their book Henry’s Demons.

I had assumed that most thoughtful people would see that a properly enforced law would be the best weapon against the ghastly peer-pressure which persuades suggestible schoolchildren to risk the capricious, irreversible danger to their mental health which cannabis threatens. If such a law was inconvenient for a few pleasure-seekers, then surely they could not be so selfish as to sacrifice the wellbeing of other people’s children for their own delight? Oh yes, they could. Not long afterwards, I met a similar fury from a rather different quarter. This time my assailant was Sam Bowman, policy director of the Adam Smith Institute. Accusing me of authoritarianism, he asserted: ‘As an adult, I should be able to stick whatever I damn well like into my body. Provided that I am aware of the risks, nobody is better placed to make my personal cost/benefit calculation for any given action.’

Claim your gift

Could it really be that dope and liberty were allies? No. Legalised drugs mean a society in which the mind is dead and in which all kinds of wickedness, sloth and failure prosper. The mass use of drugs such as cannabis is a gift for authority, which must be secretly delighted by the passive acquiescence which results.

Aldous Huxley, a far more accurate prophet than George Orwell, saw it coming in Brave New World, a dystopia where the loins were free and the mind was enslaved. He feared above all things that people could be made to love and enjoy their own servitude. Vital to this was ‘soma’, his imaginary happiness drug, which had ‘all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects… take a holiday from reality whenever you like and come back without so much as a headache or a -mythology’.

Soma is already appearing in our midst, without protest or alarm. The current mass prescription of ‘antidepressants’ and ‘tranquillisers’, along with the feeding of powerful mind-altering pills to children alleged to suffer from ADHD, looks to me like the rapid fulfilment of this prophecy. A numbed nation deals with economic decline, unemployment, family breakdown, illiteracy and bad schools, not by reforming these ills, but by doping their victims so that they can more easily endure these things.

What if a way could be found to allow the commercial sale of cannabis too? That development is also far closer than most people think. This country pretends to have stern anti-drug laws, and some people (notably the otherwise astute Sir Simon Jenkins) take this claim at face value. But it does not take much study to find that cannabis is at least as decriminalised in this country as it is Amsterdam. We just don’t advertise our laxity, partly because older voters are not ready for the truth, partly because we are bound by international treaties to maintain at least the semblance of a law against it.

How is it that, in a country where drugs are supposedly illegal — where ‘evil dealers’ are endlessly denounced — that drugs are so common and that little or nothing happens to those who are caught in possession of them? How did the ‘cannabis warning’, a gesture without force or penalty, unsanctioned by Parliament, become the preferred response of the police to the crime of possession? How can Pete Doherty drop illegal drugs on the floor of a courthouse, be caught by a security guard and yet walk free from the building, if we are — as we are so often told — running a regime of stern prohibition?

The answer is that the official version of events is simply false. Since a momentous Cabinet meeting in February 1970, there has been no ‘war on drugs’ in this country, only the official pretence of one. I beg my fellow commentators, columnists and pundits: please do not take seriously any claims that our drug problems stem from zealous enforcement of cruel laws, or you might find me camping outside your front door in a woolly hat, denouncing you and proclaiming your sins on a bedsheet.

Peter Hitchens is a columnist for the Mail on Sunday. His The War We Never Fought: the British Establishment’s Surrender to Drugs is about to be published by Bloomsbury.

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Show comments
  • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

    Peter H has an extraordinary talent for continuing to trot out the same nonsense however often he is proven wrong. The law that prohibits cannabis is ridiculous with no rational basis in science or evidence of any sort. Peter H’s endless anecdotes are just as irrelevant as anecdotes about peanut allergy. No sane person would argue that we should ban peanuts at a cost to the criminal justice system of £500 million pa, yet four times as many people are hospitalised each year for peanut allergy as for cannabis.

    To say little or nothing happens to those caught in possession of cannabis is false. Last year over 300 people were sent immediately to jail for personal possession alone. MS patients are regularly prosecuted for growing cannabis because their health authorities refuse to pay the over inflated price that GW Pharma charges the NHS for its cannabis medicine Sativex..

    We need to stop this stupid and unwinnable war against one of the most beneficial plants on the planet. It is causing far more harm to our communities than it prevents. If we had a properly regulated system of production and supply we’d have no more illegal cannabis farms, instead we’d have thousands of new jobs. We’d have no more dealers on the streets. Cannabis would be available to adults only through licensed outlets and we’d have some control over the THC and CBD content.

    Doctors would be able to prescribe one of the most effective medicines that has no serious side effects at all. At the moment the government has given GW Pharmaceuticals an illegal monopoly on cannabis so they make millions out of a medicine that you can grow in your greenhouse for virtually nothing.

    If we introduced a legally regulated system we would solve nearly all the problems around cannabis. Science proves how much safer it is than tobacco, alcohol, prescription medicines and all other recreational drugs. If anyone does have a problem with it they could get help without having to confess to a crime.

    CLEAR published independent, expert research last year which shows that a tax and regulate policy on cannabis would produce a net gain to the UK economy of up to £9.3 billion per annum.

    It is a scandal that our government, our judges, our courts, our police and our newspapers keep misleading us about cannabis. Find out the truth for yourself and wake up to the lies you have been told.

    • Malfleur

      I agree with Mr. Reynolds. One might wish to add that Mr. Hitchens might instructively broaden his research into the question by smoking the herb just before attending a concert of Bach’s music or visiting his favourite paintings at the National Gallery – once it was properly licensed of course.

      • Jim Pierce

        Yes, Britain should be even more vulgar, even sloppier than it is today.

  • Big Jim

    Shut the fuck up you hypocritical wanker

    • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

      I wish people like you who are entirely counterproductive towards the fight against prohibition would take your foul language and disgusting attitude elsewhere. All your behaviour does is lend weight to Peter H’s argument.

      • Geoff

        Funny you should say that Peter. I just took a look at your blog.

        • http://amoebadick.blogspot.co.uk Flatulentia Buttox

          I’m glad somebody noticed. Mr Reynolds comes across as a bit disturbed, doesn’t he.

  • Jasocol

    The only way that cannabis could have possibly ruined my life (it didn’t then and it hasn’t now) is for two reasons.

    1. Age of first use. I started taking Cannabis when I was 14 (way too young). However this would have been less likely and certainly less often had it been legal for over-21s. I remember clearly at the time it was easier to get hold of the Cannabis than it was to get hold of the tobacco to roll it with! This, surely you must agree is a ludicrous state of affairs.

    2. Other substances being offered. During my 10 years smoking cannabis I have been continually offered other substances. Personally I have had no interest in these but many others have less will-power and are more open to suggestion and manipulation.

    Legalising Cannabis would immediately solve both of these problems.

    And a final point – comparing the situation here to that in the Netherlands is ludicrous in the extreme and I can only assume that you are indeed delusional.

    • Ben Kelly

      I don’t think it is as ludicrous as you suggest to compare the leniency and decriminalisation of weed here to Amsterdam. Of course there are no coffeeshops, but the authorities now turn a blind eye and no real effort is made to prohibit the sale or use of weed, I think that is plainly obvious, it should be quite clear to anyone who smokes it. There are weed dealers absolutely everywhere, it is hugely prevalent, the last dealer I spoke to said he knew of ten more within close vicinity, they’re all over the place. I smell weed on the high street, outside pubs, in parks, it can be smoked really wherever you like without any real worry of punishment. I’m not even saying this as a criticism, just a fact, I smell it on the streets, see people smoking it all the time, parks, festivals, front gardens, just all over the place, all the time and nothing is really done about it. If you get caught with it you don’t get an official caution, you will at worst get sent to a support worker who will assess you to see if you need support drug use or any other issues. The white flag was waved in any battle against weed some time ago, I really don’t get people who say otherwise. I know A LOT of weed smokers and many dealers and none of them have felt remotely threatened by any authorities, they never do. So it isn’t ludicrous in the extreme at all, the official laws in the Netherlands are ignored, they are here too to a very large extent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-John-Ramsden/1221528963 Mark John Ramsden

    What Mr Reynolds said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.ferguson1 Ken Ferguson

    We know our history Mr. Hitchens. Those of us who have used cannabis regularly know it’s effects too. The scenario you are so keen to promulgate is not that experienced by responsible adults who have used the herb. Now alcohol is a cause you can really take to your heart and I would thank you for it. I have lost 4 people I love (and counting) to this evil drug. Go ahead and make your mark Mr. Hitchens doing something we might thank you for. Your own personal crusade on drugs in general and cannabis in particular, only makes you sound like a fool. Your arguments work perfectly right up to that point where they collide with science, evidence and facts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002520163555 Mark Stockton

    Go away ph no ones listening to you,you fool !!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ronan.egerton Ronan Egerton

    “Cannabis users may think they are islands of joy. But they often inflict dreadful harm on others, especially their own families.”
    “I had assumed that most thoughtful people would see that a properly enforced law would be the best weapon”

    While I find pretty much every claim in this article to be in some way misleading as far as the supporting evidence is concerned, I feel that the two that I’ve quoted are broadly representative of the shockingly poor logic that tends to be a hallmark of prohibitionist arguments. First off, I’m struggling to see what this ‘dreadful harm’ that cannabis causes is supposed to be; if cannabis actually does cause psychosis (though no causal link between the two has actually been established), the rate of incidence is laughably small and prohibition only serves to deregulate the market; were cannabis legalised and controlled, it would be much easier to prevent or at least warn people who are potentially at risk of the dangers of their decision. The only other harm I can think of is that caused by the enforcement of prohibition laws; after all, a family member going to prison and obtaining a criminal record which will ruin their employment prospects for committing a victimless crime (read: not a crime) is certainly a dreadful thing for any family to go through.

    As for a ‘properly enforced law’, this is a perfect example of arguing the idealistic stance as if it and the moral stance are one and the same. Just because you believe that cannabis is bad and should be eradicated, it doesn’t mean that the best course of action is a vigourous prohibition campaign. As it turns out, cannabis actually isn’t that harmful, and even it it was, legalisation would vastly reduce that harm. Furthermore, smoking cannabis in and of itself doesn’t impinge upon the free will of other people and cannot, therefore, even be considered a crime or require a law except in some entirely asinine, abstract sense. The main issue, though, is that cannabis is relatively easy to grow, easy to consume, provides medicinal benefits and is just generally enjoyable to consume – all of the above creates a vast demand which is met by an equally vast supply. When you’re trying to prevent an action that is self-inflicted, enjoyable and amoral due to the simple fact that there is only a single party involved, and you’re trying to prevent that action through legislation, it becomes abundantly clear that the challenge is near-impossible because it’s only really one step away from a thought crime. At this point, the sensible thing to do would really be to examine your ridiculous moral stance on drugs, understand that what you’re calling morality is actually just your own personal ethics in disguise, and then realise that the *only* moral course of action in a period of prohibition where the law does more harm than the substance could ever do is to end that prohibition.

  • Martin

    Peter H, why don’t you find yourself a few different strains of decent cannabis and give it a go, it may allow you to stop being such an inward looking idiot. Ill give credit where credit is due, you write well, its just a shame that the message is total nonsense. Why are you bothered about Pete Doherty being allowed to walk free from a building after dropping drugs? Why does that concern you? Surely if you care about people, you would be more concerned about the damage alcohol can do, or perhaps an education system that appears to be failing, or the terrible diet related illnesses we are seeing. You are basically a curtain twitcher, stop being so bloody nosey, get yourself some facts on the relative harms of cannabis and other drugs and stop being such a miserable, nosey curtain twitching hate monger.

  • Jack_Herer

    I love Peter Hitchens argument that we’ve never actually fought a war on drugs. It makes me wonder if he’s on serious hard core drugs himself! An obvious question springs to mind; how does he explain all the billions that the authorities have spent so far? The police teams who investigate paedophilia, grooming, rape, violent thugs, banking fraud and metal theft (to name a few, current, under punished and under investigated crimes) would certainly love the huge resources given to target cannabis (which ironically is a victimless crime).

    I’m guessing he means we should have had a Mexican style crackdown on drugs. I hate to be the one to tell you this Peter but the massively resourced “war on drugs” they tried over there has been an abject failure. The drug gangs are more powerful than ever. Corruption amongst officials is endemic. 55,000 dead and counting; mostly tortured. Every recent presidential candidate there said the same thing; the war on drugs has failed and they are going to put an end to it.

    By some twisted logic, Peter H seems to think we’ve been living with pro-cannabis policies in the UK already. I’m guessing that’s the gist of his book. In which case it’s obviously hogwash. Pro-cannabis policies are regulation and legalisation; anything else is just a varying degree of anti-cannabis policy. The war isn’t being fought when we have safe, legal cannabis for responsible adults. That’s when the war is actually won and society can reap the benefits. That’s when society will be a far richer, healthier, happier and more considerate place. Don’t take my word for it, just take a look at the science for yourself.

    Peter Hitchens is clearly a buffoon living in the past. His attitude is the old fashioned, no further proof needed, “we just know best”. As we are seeing more and more every day though; those in authority, and the rabid right wing journalists who bait the public for them, don’t know best. They didn’t know best on the bankers, or the tabloids, or MPs expenses, or even Jimmy Saville. Take your pick from the ills of society; sooner or later you are down to a “we just know best” attitude which is to blame.

    His days are numbered. Thankfully. He doesn’t know best. His is an attitude of a dying generation. The cannabis laws will change. The very biggest guns of all – science and reason – are blowing the winds of change. There’s only so long the truth can be suppressed. That’s just a fact of life.

    The times they are a changin’. Move with them Peter or drown in the past.

    • Jasocol

      I think what Mr. Hitchen’s is clamouring for are Chinese-style executions of drug dealers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.mundy Joe Mundy

    Peter Hitchens, you write as if you were someone who’s opinion was valued and counted on the matter.

    • Jim Pierce

      Since when do chattering apes like M. Mundy above read the Speccie, anyway?

      • garym

        brilliant argument Jim, you obviously do have the intelligence to read the ‘SPECCIE’

  • MartinF

    My God Hitchens, you do spout some puerile crap!

    So someone had a bad time with weed and as a consequence f*cked about with his life and those of his family… maybe… just maybe he was a schizophrenic already with emerging symptoms and that had more to do with his problems than the drug? But even if he was corrupted mentally beyond all hope of sanity by “reefer madness”, a grossly flawed concept upon which you dribble endlessly, he is a rather lonely statistic on the DIMINUTIVE list of canna-casulaties.

    Not so those brought (literally most of the time) to their knees by alcohol or tobacco. Consider how it can be acceptable and indeed viewed as normal that the casualty departments of every hospital in the land expect and indeed receive a huge influx of clients late in the evenings when the pubs come fully on song. Consider the bus shelters with smashed glass every weekend costing us all to repair in extra council tax, “abra-kebabra”s on the streets or worse still on public transport, and worst of all, countless women battered and bruised by p*ssed aggressive d*ck heads whose kids fear the sound of the front door opening every evening as dad gets in from the boozer. And have no doubt about it – those kids are the next generation of p*ss heads in training so the cycle re-seeds itself endlessly.

    And don’t get me started on tobacco!

    I wonder Mr. Hitchens… do you smoke or drink? Pot – kettle – black…

    Just for the record, a recent piece of research carried out by members of the medical fraternity (all of whom are far more qualified to comment upon cannabis than an opinionated and misinformed tabloid journo frankly) and published in The Lancet and subsequently aired I think on Horizon, rated a number of common drugs on a count down “harm” scale. Interestingly it was only the fact that cannabis is far too often consumed together with tobacco in “joints” that made it slip down the table somewhat. But it still managed a much better placing than alcohol or tobacco. Mind you even LSD and Ketamine fared better than alcohol and I do believe the comment in summation was that if alcohol were “discovered” today it would be promptly banned as far too dangerous. Oh dear, the profits of the booze makers and the revenue in the government’s coffers would suffer then wouldn’t they? I wonder… could that fact have any bearing in terms of the obvious and blatant political lobbying by booze companies and other interested parties to continue this totally pointless prohibition?

    Prohibition… an interesting topic in itself… I do believe its major effect is to make criminals the only ones who profit from its continuation.

    How can it can be wrong to use a drug which creates in almost all the people who ever use it an inner calm, docility, thoughtfulness and a sociable demeanor, with only the very rare side effect of occasionally making you puke (a whitey). Oh no! I forgot… it makes you want to eat the fridge door if there’s nothing left inside… best start giving it to anorexics and people with Krone’s Disease then. Did I mention it’s (still to be confirmed) positive effects on a host of other conditions too?

    Or do you chose to conveniently ignore such reports because they don’t comply with the appallingly biased and mendacious line your paper takes?

    You seem to ignore the fact that many of those who report problems with cannabis are actually already serial users of a host of other drugs at the same time, in far too many cases alcohol being firmly in the equation. How convenient for you and your ilk then when one of these poor unfortunates states he uses cannabis… if I were to use a sativa weed and drink excessively it would in all probability make me very ill, fortunately in the short term. But I have the good sense to know that and chose my poison carefully. To those sorts of people a quick spliff at the end of a “sesh” down the boozer might actually cause them to act subsequently with a little less aggression than they might otherwise. But no, that is ignored too in favor of espousing yet more reefer madness rhetoric.

    I have one word to sum up the vast majority of what you have to say about cannabis Mr. Hitchens… it begins with B, is eight letters long and it describes part of the male anatomy.

    You make me sick Mr. Hitchens… you are an appalling bigot.

    Get a life or do us all a favor and shut the f*ck up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=787636912 Tom Sparrow

    It is quite amazing for me to be sitting here, in my parents house, at the age of 18, knowing, and I am sorry Mr Hitchens, I mean knowing that cannabis has helped my life beyond recognition, is extremely nonaddictive, has a very lax hangover(stone over) that is actually quite nice when i buy good weed(which isn’t always due to the fact that I have to buy whatever I get(unbalanced thc and cbd levels = worse for your brain than balanced thc and cbd levels.) The fact is, cannabis is the safest drug on the planet, by some distance. Unlike you Mr Hitchens, I have looked at both sides of the story through my smoking life, which is actually why I am reading this in the first place. Now if I could pick up valuable negative points on cannabis from the many articles I have read, you would be hearing a very different response. However I am someone who smokes cannabis, goes to work, enjoys his life and has literally no harm to any others by doing so. However, you, an experienced columnist, are telling me that an unregulated market were dealers can sell cannabis alongside some potentially harmful drugs is better than a regulated market similar to alcohol or tobacco? A world were studys all indicate one thing – Harder laws = more drugs. Its odd, isn’t it? But, its fact. The USA and the UK both have more cannabis use for % of population than Amsterdamn and Portugal(who have decrimminalised use of any drugs, and hey ho people stop using drugs as much). Science has proven that not only are our laws more harmful than this harmful plant, but the most absurd thing of all is that two certain legal drugs are two of the leading killers on the planet. Tobacco, brings money to the government as does alcohol. However, unlike cannabis, tobacco kills hundreds of thousands every year, due to severe addiction, as alcohol, kills thousands, gets hundreds of innocents killed due to the drunkard being clueless, arrogant, violent and unable to walk in a straight line, let alone drive his car.
    The facts are there for all to see, unless of course, it is your job to say something different, if it is your job to spout harmful anti-information on drugs so that me and my friends face the possibility of getting a criminal record(thus destroying our lives) being casted out of society or finding ourselves in jail, all because we did, not what we thought was right and ok to do, but what we knew was not a crime. It would be nice if you could see this from our very obvious point of view. The simple fact is if it wasn’t for fear, this article would of gotten a U in a science examination due to the fact that none of the points made have been balanced with the much better points that pro cannabis has. All you have done is constructed a vision of cannabis for the fearful that is very easy to jump on board with, however like many things, such as racism, there are no facts based on the hate, apart from propoganda, and of course fear. And just to note before i finish this epic rant, I think all drugs should be made available in their safest forms to anybody with more of a brain cell than Mr Hitchens, or atleast someone who isn’t enticed by money more than what is right and what is wrong. And weed is right, for o so many of us.

    • http://amoebadick.blogspot.co.uk Flatulentia Buttox

      Two years have gone by since this comment of yours. I wonder if you still feel the same way.


    Yes, Mr Hitchens, the response here is good illustration of how much support dope-taking receives in even the conservative press, and I fancy I am in danger of being in a minority of one here in supporting your view. And, of course the chances of redeeming a situation in which behaviour stemming from drug abuse accounts for a major part of the misery produced by personal health and social failure, criminality and family-breakdown is unlikely to be remedied when the political, media and law-enforcement establishments are so much inhabited by so-called recreational users. But you will realise of course that there are still pockets of resistance to the now swaggering pro-drug lobby and those of us who belong to them would not be happy if you were to take the advice of some of your (often vile) detractors by witholding your wholly meticulously argued and well-informed opinions.

  • Dave

    While you’re banging on about Aldous Huxley, it must have escaped your notice that people are already freely and legally permitted to numb themselves into indifference and apathy with alcohol if they really want – and they do! I’m still waiting patiently for you to write at length about all the harms that particular drug causes in society and how we should deal with it. I figure I’ll be waiting a while. I wonder what your stance would be on that if you didn’t have to write to a deadline in the mail every week… not sure mail readers would appreciate booze bashing.

    Regardless, your argument here is predicated on the false notion that changing the law will bring about a doomsday scenario where everyone goes from not smoking cannabis at all, to an out-and-out pot-smoking rampage. Peter, people are already using cannabis in massive numbers regardless of the law; whatever harms it can cause, it is already causing, whatever we have to fear from it we are already facing it right now, and from what I’ve seen those fears just have not materialised to the extent you suggest. There’s no evidence to suggest there’d be a massive surge of usage with regulated legal access to adults, either.

    If anything is a cause of apathy in society it’s political parties that cannot be trusted and are out of touch with public opinion. To lump it all on a drug is a cop-out.

  • Focusonpeace

    Its a fact, that prohibiting cannabis causes more danger and harm, than the cannabis itself. To the user physically, psychologically, and to society. How can PH be comfy with the cannabis market controlled by criminals? Humans have been using this relatively SAFE plant for over 10,000 years. Non-problematically. SO there is a big demand for cannabis, there always has been. Making it illegal does nothing or not much to the demand, and it will always be supplied. But right now, because its prohibited the supply is controlled by criminals. If legally regulated much of the control would be taken away from criminals, we saw this happen when they re legalized alcohol in the States. Sure, people where still brewing illegal moonshine, but it wasnt anywhere near the scale it was when prohibited. Who would buy dodgy poorly brewed moonshine, when a pub was around the corner with much cleaner better tasting product. Its the same with cannabis in 2012, give a user the choice, and they would much rather give their local dispensary/coffeeshop/homebase their cash, instead of criminals. Prohibition offers no protection and prevention and education is cheaper, and more effective than prohibition and incarceration. Sorry PH, no matter what prohibitionists like you say or think, cannabis WILL be legally regulated. Its not an ‘if’, its a ‘when’. Well sooner rather than later, too much gang violence, human trafficking, under aged selling/using and children enticed by organized crime, thanks to prohibition. Keeping cannabis illegal is glamorizing it for the 15 year olds who want to act ‘big’. Compare that to Holland, the average age of first use is 20. Simply because cannabis is regulated by coffeeshops, and a budtender wouldnt sell to any one under 18, simply because they may lose their job. Its time for a change, and change will happen. As the prohibitionists Such as Hitchens sip their poison (which has been proven MUCH more toxic than cannabis, [even cocaine] as causes MUCH more harm to the user and society) the rest of us will take pragmatic approach with intentions of making the UK a safer place for kids to grow up. Wish it was legally regulated when I was a kid, I would of found cannabis harder to obtain and i wouldnt of got involved in the violence caused by disallowing legal regulation. As a kid, my friend obtained cannabis contaminated with glass particles, and iv heard some dealers are adding small amounts of heroine to their cannabis before selling it. Thank you prohibition. Making life better for everyone..well, only drug dealers, alcohol companies, cowardly politicians and lying misguided journalists.

  • Herbs

    18 and vaporise outdoor own grown cannabis/hash on a daily basis been an almost faily toker since I was around 17 with the odd month/week etc off now and then owing to the fact cannabis happens to be non addictive on a chemical level.

    Also been self employed since I left college and laughed at the idea of paying an arm and leg for a degree I’m running a business which has almost instantly started to churn out profits one could very comfortably live on.
    Someone lock me up before I start “harming” others.

    Having said that around 60-70% of cannabis tokers seem to be arseholes. Just like this guy!

  • Ken

    Ah, how typical of Hitchens to refer to antidepressants and tranquillisers in sneer quotes. Well, they may not work for everyone, but they do less harm than the sleeping pills his mother took to top herself in a pact with her lover.

    • DGStuart

      Are you a doctor or pharmacologist? I suspect not and are merely a degenerate fuckwit.

      In what way are antidepressants which make people depressed and commit suicide less harmful than sleeping pills?

      • Ken

        And what are you? Certainly you’re inarticulate (Peter Hitchens would be appalled at your foul language) and possibly some advocate of quackery – Scientologist, perhaps? As for people using antidepressants to kill themselves – how many do they have to swallow? With the exception of Seroxat, there are few cases of antidepressants exacerbating suicidal conditions.

        • anyfool

          I am sorry that comment was meant for DGStuart.

          • Ken

            No problem. At least in your case it was a genuine misunderstanding, rather than a misdirected attack on me, like DGStuart.

    • anyfool

      Cannabis is one of causes of a split personality.
      You will be a piece of dog excrement in both of yours.

      • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

        The value and accuracy of your comment is precisely expressed by your pseudonym.

        • anyfool

          sorry comment in wrong place.

      • Ken

        I’ve never taken cannabis and have no wish to do so. I’m not so sure about you.

        • anyfool

          sorry comment in wrong place

    • Jim Pierce

      Repugnant nonsense.

      • Ken

        Sometimes the truth hurts.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Jaysus what a lot of rambling pot-heads this article seems to have disturbed. Hitchens must be right.

    • DGStuart

      Amen brother. They have temporarily roused themselves from their fug of dope smoke to spout their pish. As to be expected.

      • http://amoebadick.blogspot.co.uk Flatulentia Buttox

        Well said.

  • longblaze

    what an utter tragedy that Hitchens wasnt busted the one time he smoked cannabis He doesnt want others to be so lucky of course, like Obama and Mensch, but to be thoroughly punished for the crime he got away with. If he had been busted he would have been excluded from society, no well paid job as a respected journalist, for the rest of his life even though he never touched cannabis again (the authorities never forgive and a criminal record for cananbis is for life even for those who conform to govt desires and give up forever) He may claim not to be an alcoholic but any hangover is a sign of binge drinking (I dont support binge cannabis smoking either) and a 48 hr hangover a sign of alcohoism. Its a shame he fails to mention Rastafari, merely showing us a picture. He seems to think it fine for Christians to take sacramental wine (even allowed during USA’s failed prohibition of alcohol experiment) but criminal for Rastafarians to take sacramental cannabis

  • nmearing

    I had expected to have some sympathy with Peter’s argument, as a parent whose 5 children have managed to avoid cannabis, as far as I am aware. However, when he attacked the use of Ritalin he lost me. My son has used it and, for him, it has been a wonder drug, transforming him from an alienated, academically backward child at the age of 11 into reasonably well adjusted young man with 4 a’s at A-level and a 2.i from Imperial College. He also rowed in the 1st 8 for Imperial at Henley. In recent years going off Ritalin nearly cost him his gap year job, at which he excelled after starting it again.
    If Peter’s comments on cannabis are as well-founded as those on Ritalin I will have to revert to my natural libertarian stance of believing that the amount of criminality artificially created around cannabis cannot be justified by its supposedly deterrent effects.

    • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

      The dangers and side effects of Ritalin are almost identical to cocaine, yet it is prescribed with little caution to even very young children. In comparison, cannabis is virtually risk and side effect free yet we criminalise adults who use it both recreationally and medicinally

      • nmearing

        My son was very tested before Ritalin was prescribed and carefully monitored ever since. His mother is a doctor and we were both keen to ensure that no problems would ensue. I totally agree that casual and unwarranted use of a powerful drug is always foolish.
        Despite hearing a lot about Ritalin over the past 14 years, no one ever mentioned any similarities with cocaine. Is there research that I can read on this point?

        • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

          I would suggest you simply compare the two Wikipedia pages:



        • Bob Zero

          Ritalin is similar to cocaine neuropharmacologically. They both raise dopamine by inhibiting uptake ( DAT inhibition), and their effects are similar, though cocaine is more euphoric.
          But that does not mean it is a problem. Cocaine has never been a problem to indigenous people of South America who chew the leaves of the coca plant, because this limits the daily dose to a slow release of 100 mg. It is extreme overdosing that is the problem in the west. A glass of wine with dinner can’t be compared to a bottle of vodka drunk quickly. Caffeine is a pleasant pick-me-up, unless you start taking it by the gram and becoming hypermanic. Common sense people !

  • James Ellis

    Considering the majority of people I met on my Physics course (at one of those somewhat admired gold triangle unis) smoked a fair bit of weed in their down time I really don’t agree that it leads to failure, nor apathy.

    Just as drinking a beer doesn’t always lead to domestic violence. Doesn’t mean its not a factor in 90% of cases though…. just saying.

  • Eddie

    I have watched people descend into deluded psychosis and schizophrenia from (at least in part) heavy cannabis usage.
    I can assure people that that experience is not harmless and fun at all.
    Whatever can be done to stop this dreadful drug’s presence in the UK and its casual acceptance by stupid old hippies as ‘harmless’, the better.
    I suspect a blind eye is turned to those who grow cannabis by the police and authorities because most are from ethnic minorities – the Vietnamese buy up terraced houses and then install their ‘slaves’ to farm canna bis in every room, stealing the electricity from the grid so as not to show up on meters with too heavy usage.
    Time to get strict and enforce the law – for the sake of young people, whose lives are wrecked by this awful drug.

    • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

      But your scare story just isn’t supported by the evidence. There are just 750 hospital admissions for mental health problems with cannabis each year – there are 3000 for peanut allergy and over a million for alcohol.

      You are promoting a myth, dreamed up by the alcohol industry to try and maintain its poison as the predominant recreational drug.

      What you have written is rubbish with no basis in fact or evidence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1467310781 Alun Buffry

    Peter Reynolds is not representative of the majority of people that use cannabis – he wants to force people to buy licenses for what is a basic Human Right – the Right to a Private Life, and that means doing whatever they want, including growing cannabis for their own use. Provided they do no harm and pose no risk to public health, public order, national security, growers should be left alone. (Commercial growers should of course be licensed to enable consumer protection, quality control, hygiene and tax on profits.

    Reynolds also advocates adding duty to the price of cannabis sold to adults through legalised outlets, producing figures out of thin air to show just the revenue that would be paid by cannabis users – the users he now describes as “crazy stoners”. Of course a purchase tax of 200% is more likely than the 10 or 20 per cent he suggests. Add that tax to license fees etc, and the price of cannabis through such shops will increase drastically, enabling illegal growers and street dealers to make even more money.

    Reynolds’ claims he represents the interests of UK cannabis users – he does not – he certainly does not represent me – he represents the taxman!

    Neither do Reynold’s views on immigrants, on Jews, on Arabs or on gays, represent my interests.

    Peter Hitchins does not represent the average prohibitionist either.

    The law ought to be based upon harm to others and if there is no victims then there should be no crime

    • KEVJB420

      Peter Reynolds does not represent cannabis users, he even phones the police on them. In the cannabis community is a joke and a laughing stock.

      To find out the truth about Reynolds check out http://peter-reynolds-watch.com/

      • Terry Jones

        He called the police on people who were ripping off Clear members. Everyone knows who you are and that you have your own agenda. Your website is full of ridiculous lies. Do you know how stupid you look?

        • KEVJB420

          Tell me what parts are lies? The hosts asked Reynolds what parts were lies when he threatened them, even agreeing to take it down if he could prove the site was untrue; they never heard from him again.

          • Terry Jones

            No Kevin John Braid, you are the liar. Your only excuse is your mental illness but your obsession with fantastical hatred of Peter Reynolds reveals how ill you are. Peter is a hero to millions of people in Britain and your pitiful one man hate campaign says far more about you than him. Would it have anything to do with you being banned from many websites and forums for your ADHD fuelled multiple posting binges?

            As for the thieves and lowlifes who tried to hijack CLEAR and have now set up NORML UK, the criminal investigation is reaching its conclusion and arrests are expected shortly. I understand that then civil proceedings will also be issued against Chris Bovey, Greg De Hoedt and others.

          • PeterReynoldsSpotted

            ^^^ Mr Reynolds: When attempting to post anonymously as Terry Jones, it might be worth considering changing your rather unique writing style. 1/10 for effort.

            It is also very interesting to see how you perceive yourself in the eyes of others. It’s quite laughable in fact.

          • Terry Jones

            Are you paranoid too or shall we add multiple personality disorder to your catalogue of mental illness?

          • PeterReynoldsSpotted

            I think it might be you who suffers from multiple personality disorder. Remember your sock puppet called ‘Cara Margam’ Peter? Where you pretended to be a psychiatrist? And that you deleted all her online profiles when you were found out? We remember it well Mr Reynolds.

          • Terry Jones

            Sorry Kev, I’ve been advised to stop feeding the trolls so you’ll have to go back to crawling up your own backside….until the knock on the door that is.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1182106378 Glyn Williams

            Reynolds,You are a complete waste of space,,time, and oxygen,You purport to represent cannabis users but in reality you are a police informer at the very least,your constant threats of getting folks arrested because they have sussed you out is getting rather tiresome. Now as we both know there is no longer any police investigation,even the rozzers are sick to death of you wasting their time..Stroll on back to the obscurity from whence you came,you represent no-one from the UK cannabis community with any self respect,in fact you are reviled and rightly so

          • KEVJB420

            Reynolds has stopped posting under his sock account “Terry Jones”, I expect Derek Williams told him to stop, I can imagine the phone call: “Pete mate, they’ve sussed you out that Terry Jones is you pretending to be a supporter; you’ve got to stop posting on the comments section of that site, as you’re making yourself look stupid, they know it’s you, they can tell from the writing style and you gave it away for sure when you wrote that you have a copy of Kevin’s own writings, you idiot”.

            Terry Jones is also the name of one of the Money Python team and nobody can deny that Peter Reynolds wouldn’t look out of place in a Python sketch.

          • http://amoebadick.blogspot.co.uk Flatulentia Buttox

            Haha, yes I spotted that too!

          • KEVJB420

            OK now I know you are Peter Reynolds, so little people support this man he has to make sock accounts to post supportive comments and lies. I checked with Dorset police, the investigation is concluded and they found no evidence to support your outrageous claims. I am also reporting your libelous comment making aspersions on my mental health.

          • Terry Jones

            Your paranoia and delusions keep getting you in trouble. Peter has far more important things to do than deal with a troll like you which is why I am very happy to take you on while he is campaigning in Corby. As for your mental illness, I have a copy of your own writing where you explain your problems with ADHD and OCD.

            Make no mistake Braid, if the men in white coats don’t get you first then the Polski police and the High Court sherriffs are close behind

          • http://amoebadick.blogspot.co.uk Flatulentia Buttox

            You’re actually Peter Reynolds, aren’t you.

    • Simon Howell

      Buffry, you are an irrelevant, silly old fool. Your tenure as head of the LCA was a tragi-comedy farce. Since Peter Reynolds was elected and the name was changed to CLEAR the cannabis campaign has really taken off in Britain and your trolling, sniping and jealousy is pathetic.

      Just because your efforts were useless, why are you trying to sabotage Mr Reynolds’ valiant work?

      • Terry Jones

        Although a lot of mud has been slung at Reynolds not much of it sticks and no one can deny that he’s done more than anyone to professionalize the movement. It was a joke until he took over and he is getting the message across better than anyone else Ive seen

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1467310781 Alun Buffry

    Both Peter Reynolds who claims to be the only expert on cannabis in the Uk and puts down all others, and Peter Hitchen journalist, are amongst the most abusive stuck-up people I have ever had the misfortune to meet – the are one of a kind, both seeking only publicity and money for themselves – Hitchen from the press, Reynolds from his self-made political party membership

  • http://www.facebook.com/BoyRuskin Iain Cockhill

    Where to start?? Ok, firstly, Peter Hitchen’s is an outdated, privileged, typical Tory boy who would rub shoulders well with the likes of William Hague. Peter cites a number of writers to portray his reasons for Cannabis prohibition to continue, and actually be more rigidly enforced. All I can say to this point is that rather than experience life through the eyes and ears of others, I suggest you try experimenting yourself, perhaps you did in your youth, but only due to ‘peer-pressure’, but something tells me you are naive when it comes to the effects and reasons at to why humanity uses psycho active substances.

    You frequently mention how ‘dope’ or other illicit drugs and prescribed drugs make you a ‘dullard’. Somehow the only purpose for drug use is to sit in a basement for months on end in a stupor, staring at a computer screen?! If you are prepared to be so presumptuous as to how all people who consume Cannabis for recreational purposes behave, might I do the same, and assume you enjoy a few glasses of expensive, ego-rewarding fine wine with a meal in an expensive restaurant where you quaff an extremely damaging drug and discuss how its bouquet compliments the dish you are eating?? Sorry, if that’s being stereotypical, but you did start it Peter H.

    I have been consuming Cannabis since I was 14 years old and went to school in a morning often having already consumed Cannabis. I went on to go to two Universities and have the degree’s to prove it. I now specialize in Dual Diagnosis; Drug dependence with co-existing mental illness. Quite frankly I do not feel you have the qualifications to allow your opinion to be openly broadcast as it has, as your opinion, as anyone high up in the mainstream media has, is influential. I am all for free speech and open debate, but having read Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and the fate of Henry Cockburn. None of these authors have accurately described the effects of Cannabis, and ‘Soma’ was NOT Cannabis, but yes, it did parody the working class dependence on drugs of solace, but in no way can be compared to the actual experimentation of the drug. Aldous Huxley also wrote ‘The Doors of Perception’, I would be intrigued to know how you interpreted that book based on his first experiences of mescaline and psychedelics.

    The guy stood outside your apartment protesting deserves a medal for standing up for what he believes in, whether I agree with his religious bias or not. To even joke for one minute about how you may be down there protesting and ‘proclaiming your sins on a bedsheet’. You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, and the idea of you getting your hands dirty let alone, camping in a soaking wet paved area fighting for what you believe in. Why do that when you can remain self righteous, indignant and ignorant to the topics that you openly discuss in Right wing tabloids.

    You were right about one thing, Peter Hitchens, and that is that Legalization is only around the corner, and people like you are just laughed at by the majority of the citizens of the UK.

  • Dave

    You do realise that Huxley was a supporter of the use of psychedelic drugs right? You can’t pick and choose from his works just to try to prove your archaic point. Read “The Doors of Perception” and “Heaven and Hell” by Huxley and come back when you’re informed.

  • K.dot

    Why did I waste my time reading that misinformed ignorant tripe!

  • Cole Dutton

    I am a student in university in Edmonton Alberta Canada and trying to build a base for a student run conservative blog. I recently started a group of articles addressing socio-political concerns from a conservative theory standpoint. My first of the twenty something articles is about drug policy in the western world. http://dominionstandard.blogspot.ca/2015/05/the-conservative-standpoint-cursory.html

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