The Arguments against Cannabis are Flimsy!
from the Usenet newsgroup uk.politics.drugs

From: (*Love*)
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 15:17:24 UTC
Subject: The arguments against cannabis are flimsy!

   "Before going on to these issues, however, it will be helpful
to examine one important threshold topic.  Though the criminalization
of marijuana is typically justified on the ground
that the effectiveness of the law or the dangers of the drug
make the costs of criminalization worthwhile, it will become
clear as we proceed that for many people the issue is far from
this pragmatic.  Indeed, proceeding through the book one will
note that the arguments minimizing the costs and enhancing
the benefits of the marijuana laws are often so transparently
flimsy that one can hardly believe they have been put forward
                         From "Marijuana The New Prohibition" 1970
			 by Professor John Kaplan
			 p. 3  (pb.)

The arguments against cannabis are flimsy!


From: (John Yates)

Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 21:00:08 GMT (*Love*) wrote:

>The arguments against cannabis are flimsy!

Worse than that, they are irrational and cause great damage.
Which doesn't matter much as cannabis prohibition has nothing to 
do with rational argument or with preventing drugs from harming
individuals or society. It's about fighting projected evil. Stomping
on the faces of no good shits. Cannabis prohibition is the poor 
cousin of jew-baiting, nigger lynching and witch burning. So don't 
be too put out if prohibitionist arguments are flimsy, prohibitionists
are not operating on the level of rationality, they are swimming in
the murky waters of dark subconcious forces.

					John Yates

Date: Sat, 20 Jul 1996 16:35:46 GMT
From: (Stephen Horgan)

As a prohibitionist I take exception to most of the above. How about
setting out a case for legalisation instead of vilifying those who
have the temerity to disagree with you?

--  Stephen Horgan, Basildon, Essex, England


From: (John Yates)
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 1996 08:49:50 GMT

I'm not vilifying anyone, just stating objective facts. For a law to
exist there must be rational reasons for it to exist. There are no
rational reasons for Cannabis prohibition to exist. You cannot
reasonably defend the law you support, so your support is based
on ignorance and/or irrational emotion. If your prohibitionism is
based on ignorance then it is morally reprehensible because then 
you are in the position of advocating punishing and imprisoning
people over something you know nothing about. If it is based on
irrational emotion then you are qualitatively no different from the
rednecks of the American deep south who say that Negroes should
ride at the back of the bus. I would very much like to hear your
justification for punishing and even throwing people in prison for
doing something you disapprove of.

			John Yates

PS. I am intrigued, you say you take exception to most of my original
posting. Which parts do you agree with?


From: (Stephen Horgan)
Date: Sun, 21 Jul 1996 22:59:22 GMT

If the characterisation of the opponents of cannabis legalisation as
both irrational and bigoted is an objective fact then substantiate it.

>For a law to exist there must be rational reasons for it to exist. There are no
>rational reasons for Cannabis prohibition to exist. 

There are two main reasons; medical concerns and social concerns.
Numerous studies have shown that there can be detrimental long-term
effects of cannabis use. That there may be negative social
implications is demonstrated by the recent decision of the Dutch to
tighten up their previously liberal drug legislation.

>You cannot
>reasonably defend the law you support, so your support is based
>on ignorance and/or irrational emotion.

You don't know me from Adam and you haven't heard any arguments yet.
This may be the most arrogant and narrow-minded post in uk.p history,
and that's up against some pretty stiff competition.

> If your prohibitionism is
>based on ignorance then it is morally reprehensible because then 
>you are in the position of advocating punishing and imprisoning
>people over something you know nothing about. If it is based on
>irrational emotion then you are qualitatively no different from the
>rednecks of the American deep south who say that Negroes should
>ride at the back of the bus. 


>I would very much like to hear your
>justification for punishing and even throwing people in prison for
>doing something you disapprove of.

Why? All who disagree with you are either fools or madmen.

-- Stephen Horgan, Basildon, Essex, England


From: (Neil)
Date: 22 Jul 1996 09:55:03 GMT (Dimashq) wrote:

>It seems that most people are worried about a causal link between
>cannabis and harder "class A" substances. The health issue seems to be
>secondary, in the way that the tobacco health issue is too, both have
>similar damaging effects on the lungs and CNS. It would be difficult
>to prove or disprove whether Cannabis is responsible for people taking
>other drugs. I feel that many people are led to experiment with harder
>drugs, because their supplier also supplies these other commodities,
>and thus they are at hand. If supply was open and other drugs were
>suppressed, it would certainly lead to a lessening of the causal link.

The "link" between cannabis use and hard drug use can be easily proved/
disproved if it is properly defined first. Something which prohibitionists avoid
preferring to quote meaningless selective statistics instead . If the claim is that 
cannabis itself is the link, through either a physical or psychological mechanism, 
then there is no scientific evidence at all to support this and this had been
dismissed by many major studies on cannabis including the 1969 Royal 
Commission on cannabis in this country. If the claim is that there is a sociological
link then there is some evidence to support this. Cannabis users are pushed
into a criminal drug culture where other illegal drugs are more likely to be
available. This link is of course broken if canabis supply is separated from
the supply of other drug as has happened in Holland with the coffee shops and
the Dutch now have a lower number of heroin addicts per head of population
than the UK.

>The effects of cannabis on society seem to be more of a beneficial
>nature, as indicated in the programme, than of any other kind.
>Speaking from personal experiences, I know that smokers have a very
>close relationship to their friends, due to the relaxing effect of the
>weed, and therefore the deepening of the bond. Smoking also acts as a
>pacifier and analgesic to many, not to mention an insomnia cure, Hemp
>makes very light and very strong rope, fabric, paper and a
>petrochemical substitute, it also grows in almost any climate, being a
>very hardy plant, and it grows quickly. It is a natural resource which
>seems to have been forgotten.

I would stop short of saying "beneficial"; cananbis is a still primarily a 
mind-altering drug despite the possible medicinal and industrial uses. As a
drug it is open to abuse and harmful misuse but it certainly can be argued
that it is less dangerous than alcohol. It interesting to note that alcohol shares 
nearly all the same risks to health if chronically abused as cannabis, the exception
being the increased risk of respiratory illness (and here cannabis  poses less 
of a risk than tobacco). But that cannabis use is not associated with anti-social 
behaviour and public order crimes like alcohol and so can be considered a
better choice of recreational drug.

>I understand that both sides have what they see as rational arguments
>against/for  it, but if they were prepared to view the problem from
>the other side for a minute or two,  then a resolution to this problem
>could be achieved, which would be profitable and satisfactory to all

No i don't think there are any convincing rational arguments against
the policy of legalisation they are based on ignorance and moral
judgements that cannabis is a drug and drugs are wrong. There are
however problems in implementing such a dramatic change in policy.
One problem is that we have demonised illegal drugs for so long it is
very difficult to convince public opinion that legalisation does not
mean drugs are "OK" but instead will actually reduce harm from 
drug use. This especially true for politicians who have played an
important role in getting us into this mess and still like to blame drugs
 for social ills rather than address the real issues. 



From: (Neil)
Date: 25 Jul 1996 09:28:06 GMT

In article <>, Peter Davies  says:

>I notice it's my government. It must not 
>have had much effect on Professor Pennington who recently submitted a 
>report to the Victorian govt containing the recommendation to 
>decriminalise Cannabis. The Victorian parliament voted against it. The 
>idiotic Premier Jeff Kennett stated "Not enough was known about the drug" 
>and "We don't want to go it alone" even though two states have already 
>decriminalised Cannabis. The encouraging thing was he was trying to 
>sound like he was "pro decriminalising" to a Victorian public ready to 
>vote him out of office. People are beginning to realise the WOsD is 
>going nowhere unless you're a drug dealer.

The report Stephen was referring to is called the Health and Psychological
Consequences of Cannabis, produced for the Australian gov in 1995. A
report which demonstrates that cannabis is a compararble risk to health as 
alcohol and tobacco (which makes me doubt that Stephen has actually read it
properly). If the Australians did think that cannabis was such a huge risk to health
why would the Australian Capital Territory have made the possession
of 25g of cannabis or the cultivation of up to 5 plants no longer a criminal 



From: Grufty Jim 
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 1996 01:24:03 +0100

In article <>,
Stephen Horgan  writes:
> On Mon, 22 Jul 1996 17:04:46 GMT, (Simon M) wrote:
>> Medical concerns are irrelevant.  In a free society I must be
>> able to do whatever I please with my body - although I know there
>> are no free societies in this world.  
> If you were completely isolated from everyone else in society then
> this would hold water, but you aren't and it doesn't. If you get
> sick you expect others to look after you. Also, presumably, some
> people actually care about you and maybe even depend on you.


I would just like some clarification on the point you make above. Do
you propose that health risks, or claimed health risks, are a valid
reason for the prohibition of an activity (such as smoking cannabis)?

That appears to be the stance you are taking. If this is the case,
then in order to maintain any level of consistency I can only assume
you actively campaign for the prohibition of cigarettes, alcohol,
automobiles, parachuting, certain foods, scuba-diving, etc, etc, to
name but a few.

All of the above have had more illness and deaths attributed to them
than cannabis.



From: (John Yates)
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 17:29:02 GMT (Stephen Horgan) wrote:

>>The sort of people who
>>would bring this about over a substance no more harmful than an
>>occasional cup of coffee are best described as irrational and bigoted.
>Well, that's the way to get them to change their minds isn't it?

Getting cannabis prohibitionists to change their minds was not
my purpose. If you read the original post that started this thread you will find
that it is about why cannabis is illegal when the arguments for
criminalising it are so flimsy. The reason why this is so, as I
pointed out, is because cannabis prohibitionists are ignorant and/or
bigoted. That is a perfectly reasonable and rational answer to the
first posters query. As far as your arguments for the dangers of cannabis go, 
all you have been able to come up with so far is one highly dubious URL and 
you have managed to ignore a wealth of information from other posters.
You validate my argument.

			John Yates

From: (Neil)
Date: 25 Jul 1996 09:15:29 GMT
Organization: Representing Myself
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In article <>, (Stephen Horgan) says:
>On Mon, 22 Jul 1996 18:39:04 GMT, (John Yates)
>> (Stephen Horgan) wrote:
>>>If the characterisation of the opponents of cannabis legalisation as
>>>both irrational and bigoted is an objective fact then substantiate it.
>>Cannabis is a harmless substance ( The Lancet nov.1996 ) . 
>For a more complete view try:
(The URL has changed -

This report does indeed describe the health effects of a dangerous
drug. A drug which causes brain damage, psychosis, premature deaths
through suicide and violence. A drug which is addcitive and which users
develop a dependence syndrome where users cannot control or cease 
use. A drug which if used by pregnant women damages the unborn child. 
A drug which  causes deaths by cancer, asphxyiation, cardiac infact and 
over dosing. That drug is alcohol.

>>Prohibiting Cannabis makes criminals out of socially valuable and otherwise law
>>abiding citizens. Prohibition creates a criminal black market that
>>pumps vast sums of money into the pockets of organised crime, robs
>>the aforementioned citizens of proper quality control and makes the
>>law a laughing stock for millions of people. 
>It also keeps down consumption of a drug whose safety is at best
>ambiguous and reduces the number of people who trade up to harder

Rubbish that simply is not a credible thing to say when cannabis use
is increasing to record levels in the UK (especially amongst minors)
under a system of prohibition. The only link between hard drugs and
cannabis is the system of criminal suppliers, The criminalising of
cannabis pushes users into a criminal underworld of drug supply and
use and so makes expermintation with harder drugs easier. Holland
has separated the supply of cannabis from hard drugs and now enjoys 
a lower number of hard drug adddicts per head of population than the UK.

> ... Check out the reference above.

This paper makes clear that the long term health risks that ther are
(principaly the increased risk of respiratory illness) is only a risk
to long term chronic users (several joints a day for years), these
are a tiny moinority of the millions of people being criminalised in
the UK. This paper shows that the health risk posed by cannabis
is comparable to that for alcohol and tobacco and many people
in the medical profession do not believe that the health risks justify
the damage to society done by  creating a criminal black market 
and so we should legalise canabis.

>>The Dutch did not tighten up their liberal policy because of
>>negative social effects, but to appease hysterical prohibitionist
>>neighbours who  in fact have far worse problems than liberal Holland.
>Can you substantiate that?

The Dutch police didn't waste time busting 46,000 people for possession
of less than 1 g of cannabis like the UK police did in 1994.  Dutch
police officers were not comprimised like many of ours are into
breaking the law themselves for choosing not to prosecute in 
cases of possession and throwing the cannabis down the nearest
drain instead. The Dutch collected taxes on sales of cannabis through
their coffeeshops unlike we can on a black market. The Dutch have
separated the sale of cannabis fom the sale of other drugs.

>>Gigantic social problems are caused by Cannabis prohibition.
>Such as?

Undermining the credibility of our drug education.  Young people today
know that cannabis is not the hugely dangerous drug you may have been 
brought up to think it was. They know the hypocrisy of banning cannabis but
not alcohol and tobacco and this makes them question the law on all drugs.

Allowing cannabis to be sold to minors and alongside hard drugs in an
uncontrolled criminal market. 

Creating a criminal industry - in our inner cities sales of all drugs are 
being over-seen by criminal over-lords who readily use violence to
protect their patch.

The harm done to society of crminalising millions of otherwise law
abiding people. A criminal conviction for a minor cannabis offence in 
your youth stays with you for life and can prevent you for getting a job
and contributing to society.



From: (Brian D Milner)
Date: 25 Jul 1996 10:24:08 +0100

Stephen Horgan  wrote:

>It also keeps down consumption of a drug whose safety is at best
>ambiguous and reduces the number of people who trade up to harder

If that were the case, why do the Netherlands (who decriminalised 
cannabis in 1975) have fewer hard drug addicts per 1,000 population than 
us in the UK? Why are they sticking with a policy for 25 years which you say 
would be disasterous over here? Why have Germany (1994) and Luxembourg 
(1996) also decriminalised cannabis? 

I got the following table from: 

This URL has been quoted to you a number of times, yet you still argue 
about points that are dealt with by this document. Therefore, we have 
to quote parts of it at you: 

International comparative prevalence figures on hard drug addicts

                                 Number   Inhabitants   Per 1000 of
                            of Addicts    (millions)    population
Netherlands                     25,000          15.1           1.6
Germany                100,000/120,000          79.8       1.3/1.5
Belgium                         17,500          10.0           1.8
Luxembourg                       2,000           0.4           5.0
France                 135,000/150,000          57.0       2.4/2.6
United Kingdom                 150,000          57.6           2.6
Denmark                         10,000           5.1           2.0
Sweden                          13,500           8.6           1.6
Norway                           4,500           4.3           1.0
Switzerland              26,500/45,000           6.7       4.0/6.7
Austria                         10,000           7.8           1.3
Italy                          175,000          57.8           3.0
Spain                          120,000          39.4           3.0
Greece                          35,000          10.1           3.5
Portugal                        45,000          10.0           4.5
Ireland                          2,000           3.5           0.6

Sources: Bosman and Van Es (1993); Bless, Korf, Freeman, Urban drug
policies in Europe 1993 (1993); WHO regional office for Europe, European
summary on drug abuse, first report: 1985-1990 (1992); Commis- sion of the
European Communities, Second Report on drug demand reduction in the
European Community (1992); Bossong (1994); Van Cauwenberghe et al. 1993


From: (Charlie Stross)
Date: 25 Jul 96 13:16:11 GMT

Martians beaming thought-waves under the command of the Queen of England 
forced Stephen Horgan to write (in article <>):
>>Prohibiting Cannabis makes criminals out of socially valuable and otherwise law
>>abiding citizens. 
>It also keeps down consumption of a drug whose safety is at best
>ambiguous and reduces the number of people who trade up to harder

Jesus Spliffing Christ smoking into town on a roll-up the size of a
carpet, "safety is at best ambiguous"?!?!?

Stephen, I've seen your touted piece of pro-prohibition propaganda. For
a source, I prefer to quote a lecturer of mine, back when I was
studying pharmacognosy. He got his supplies by the kilo, from the Home
Office Farm. His quote: "I'm not advising you to go and skin up right
now, because you're pharmacists and if you're caught using cannabis
you will probably lose your jobs and professional qualification. But you
should be aware that cannabis is certainly no more harmful than other,
socially sanctioned intoxicants, and quite probably less so: and its
criminal status reflects its position as the drug of choice for minority
communities and out-groups rather than any real level of harm it may

You might care to glom onto a copy of Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia
down at your local medical bookshop. Check out the entry for Caffeine,
first. As of the 28th edition (last one I checked) there was a most
entertaining abstract of a paper documenting the death of an unfortunate
gentleman who o/d'd on espresso coffee. Indeed, the LD50 dose for
caffeine is on the order of 6-8 grams for a 70 Kg adult human. Next,
check the entry for Cannabis or Cannabinol. Oddly, no LD50 is listed;
it's been tested for, but they couldn't get the lab animals to eat
enough to die of it. There's some anecdotal reports floating around of
one journalist in Berkeley in the late sixties who mistook a bowl of
purified THC for sugar and dumped a couple of spoonfuls into his
coffee. If it had been caffeine, he'd be stone dead: as it is, he
simply slept for two days. 

Listen, if you want to ban cannabis on grounds of safety, you'd better
ban alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and peanuts at the same time. (Did you
know that quite a few people in the UK die of anaphylaxis following
accidental ingestion of foodstuffs containing peanuts every year? Seems
to be a fairly  common allergic reaction.) 

For an encore, you should definitely ban driving (kills 2000+ people
per year), cycling (kills more people than peanuts, tea, and coffee
combined), and kitchens (where 70% of lethal domestic accidents take

As for "trading up to harder drugs", the line of reasoning behind
that one supposes that (a) harder drugs are more expensive/lucrative
for the dealers than cannabis (this is not always the case), and (b)
that the dealers sell both. Which seems to me like a good argument for
totally legalizing cannabis use and supply, and regulating the supply
via off-licenses or similar  controlled outlets. Thus preventing
your hypothetical drug-crazed cannabis afficionado from upgrading their
habit to heroin (at least until Oddbins start stocking China White).

>>The Dutch did not tighten up their liberal policy because of
>>negative social effects, but to appease hysterical prohibitionist
>>neighbours who  in fact have far worse problems than liberal Holland.
>Can you substantiate that?

Go check the Electronic Telegraph back-issues. They were catching a 
lot of flak from the German government.

In the meantime, get your filthy paws off my body. By what right do
you  think the state should be entitled to control what I do with
myself, so long as it jeopardizes no other property or person?

-- Charlie Stross


From: (Brian D Milner)
Date: 24 Jul 1996 09:40:00 +0100

Stephen Horgan  wrote:
>I would say that [cannabis is] at least as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco.

How do you work that one out, in light of the 'Early Day Motion' that I 
reproduce below, which gives the annual UK deaths due to drug use? 

EDM - Cannabis and Tobacco Use 25/1/94 Paul Flynn MP
Description - That this House notes that each year in the United Kingdom
deaths attributable to drug use are, cannabis 0, heroin 100, alcohol
25 000, and tobacco 110 000 and that society jails cannabis users while
spending ukp100 million plus on tobacco use; and call for a Royal
Commission to investigate drug use.
Signed by - Austin-Walker/John, Banks/Tony, Bayley/Hugh, Bennet/Andrew F
Boyes/Roland Burden/Richard Cambell-Savours/DN, Cambell/Ronnie 
Clapham/Michael Cohen/Harry Corston/Jean Davidson/Ian Davis/Terry
Donohoe/Brian H Dowd/Jim Etherington/Bill Faulds/Andrew Flynn/Paul
Garret/John Gerrad/Neil Godman/Norman A, Gunnel/John Harvey/Nick
Heppel/John Hill/Keith Howells/Kim Hughes/Simon Jones/Lynne Jones/Martyn
Livingstone/Ken LLoyd/Tony Macdonald/Calum Madden/Max Michie/Bill
Morris/Alfred Mullin/Chris Pickthall/Colin Redmond/Martin Sheerman/Barry
Squire/Rachel Taylor/Mattew Tipping/Paddy Wallace/James Wilson/Brian

Why is it necessary to imprison people for smoking a weed that cannot 
kill them, when tobacco kills 110,000 people a year in the UK? 


From: (Neil)
Date: 25 Jul 1996 08:27:58 GMT
Organization: The University of Birmingham

In article <>,
(Stephen Horgan) says:

>On 22 Jul 1996 09:15:57 GMT, (Neil) wrote:
>>Stephen you never substantiate what these medical concerns are,
>Not entirely fair, when we chatted about this last time I did post a
>reference which provides the best summary of medical evidence on the
>Web that I've seen.

I agree that this is not a bad review.

>Here it is again:
[Actually it has moved to:]

You did indeed post this (which i thanked you for as i had not
seen it b4) but I do have my doubts as to wether you have actually
read this report in full. I have done so and what it shows is that
the health risks posed by cannabis are comparable to alcohol and
tobacco and the only people at risk from cannabis are chronic users
(abusers) who smoke several joints a day, everyday for years. The
vast majority of the millions of people  criminalised in the
UK do not use cannabis in this manner. The comparable situation
would be to criminalise alcohol for all because of the minority
of problem users. Furthermore the criminalisation of cannabis users
makes it much harder to treat the small number of problem users
as they are pushed outside of society. Legalisation would
bring use out into the open and make the promotion of responsible
use and intervetnion in cases of abuse easier. Did you read the
Daily Telgraph Editorial on cannabis 30/10/95:

"However, not everything that is harmful should be placed on the
wrong side of the law; and arguably it is because alcohol is on the
right side that its use has been civilised."

>>there are potential health problems from chronic cannabis abuse
>>but cannabis is no more dangerous a drug than alcohol or tobacco.
>I would say that it's at least as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco.

OK but I hope you would agree that we are talking a comparable risk
between these three drugs and that the vast majority of cannabis
users do not encounter any health problems. Let us examine the
Australian report that you cited:-

"Alcohol. Chronic cannabis use may share some of the risks of heavy
chronic alcohol use. First, heavy use of either drug increases the
risk of developing a dependence syndrome in which users experience
difficulty in stopping or controlling their use. There is strong
evidence for such a syndrome in the case of alcohol and reasonable
evidence in the case of cannabis. Second, there is reasonable clinical
evidence that the chronic heavy use of alcohol can produce psychotic
symptoms and psychoses in some individuals. There is suggestive evidence
that chronic heavy cannabis use may produce a toxic psychosis,
precipitate psychotic illnesses in predisposed individuals, and
exacerbate psychotic symptoms in individuals with schizophrenia.
Third, there is good evidence that chronic heavy alcohol use can
indirectly cause brain injury - the Wernicke-Korsakov syndrome - with
symptoms of severe memory defect and an impaired ability to plan and
organise. Chronic cannabis use does not produce cognitive impairment
of comparable severity but there is suggestive evidence that chronic
cannabis use may produce subtle defects in cognitive functioning, that
may or may not be reversible after abstinence. Fourth, there is
reasonable evidence that chronic heavy alcohol use produces
impaired occupational performance in adults and lowered educational
achievements in adolescents. There is at most suggestive evidence that
chronic heavy cannabis use produces similar, albeit more subtle
impairments in occupational and educational performance of adults.
Fifth, there is good evidence that chronic, heavy alcohol use increases
the risk of premature mortality from accidents, suicide and violence.
There is no comparable evidence for chronic cannabis use, although it
is likely that dependent cannabis users who frequently drive while
intoxicated with cannabis increase their risk of accidental injury or
death. Sixth, alcohol use has been accepted as a contributory cause of
cancer of the oropharangeal organs in men and women. There is suggestive
evidence that chronic cannabis smoking may also be a contributory
cause of cancers of the aerodigestive tract (i.e. the mouth, tongue,
throat, oesophagus, lungs)."

"Tobacco. The major adverse health effects shared by chronic cannabis
and tobacco smokers are chronic respiratory diseases, such as chronic
bronchitis, andprobably, cancers of the aerodigestive tract. The
increased risk of cancer in the respiratory tract is a consequence of
the shared route of administration by smoking. It is possible that
chronic cannabis smoking also shares the cardiotoxic properties of
tobacco smoking, although this possibility remains to be investigated."

If you read this carefully and the more detailed evidence in
chapters 6 & 7, you will see that the evidence is actually
stronger for alcohol being the more dangerous drug (though you
could argue that is because there has been more better research
on alcohol ) and also that cannabis is less of a risk to the respiratory 
system because less matter is actually smoked by typical cannabis 
users compared to typical tobacco users.

Now I do not accept (and neither does The Lancet or BMJ) that the
health risk of cannabis justifies the criminalisation of millions
and the additional harms that this policy creates through allowing
a huge criminal black market to exist.

>>The health risk posed by cannabis fails to justify prohibition and the
>>additional harms of a criminal market and the criminalisation of millions
>>of  cannabis users in the UK who have no problems asssociated with
>>their use of the drug.
>The health risks of cannabis are only a part of the justification for
>prohibition. I would contend that, in these days of health-related
>lawsuits, the active marketing of cannabis would be a very dicey
>proposition indeed.

So ban that. Allow no advertising at all, I have no problem with that.
I would also strengthen the drug education program with the
additional revenue raised by taxation. Cannabis use is not
good for your health but criminalising it is not the answer.

>> If not how do you explain both The Lancet and the
>>British Medical Journal now backing the call for the reform of the UK
>>cannabis laws?
>Because they are medical journals. When considering legalisation the
>social effects must also be considered.

Both were looking at the broader picture and pointed out that
the health risks failed to justify criminalisation _and_ that
legalisation would be the only way to destroy the criminals and
control the supply of cannabis in our society. Go see them for yourself:

>>"Policies that allow some decriminalisation and legalisation are much more
>>likely than prohibition to succeed in achieving everybody's aim of minimising
>>the harm from drug abuse. " BMJ Volume 311 December 23-30
>>"Sooner or later politicians will have to stop running scared and address the
>>evidence: cannabis per se is not a hazard to society but driving it further
>>underground may well be." The Lancet Volume 346, Number 8985, November 11 1995
>It might help debate if you suggested what you mean by
>decriminalisation and legalisation.

What I advocate is a system where we license, regulate (and tax)
the production, distribution and consumption of cannabis.

>Even if that is the only reason, it would be the same for a
>decriminalising Britain. I assume you aren't suggesting that
>legalisation must be worldwide for it to work?

What i am saying is that the Dutch have only gone 1/2 way
through decriminalising the possession of cannabis but not
the large scale distribution and production of cannabis
which must obviously still be going on and so while they
have removed the harm from criminalising millions of their
people they still have the problem of organised crime
controlling the market. I say that you have to decriminalise/legalise
both. BTW I do not accept the argument that UN law prevents
this if the domestic political will to do so exists ( I also believe
the Dutch will begin to take control of the system of production & supply 
over the coming years but at regional gov level not national, along
with many other parts of Europe - Germany, Luxemberg, Belgium,
Denmark, Itlay, Spain have all made moves in this direction).

>What I am trying to do is inject some rationality into this debate. If
>you think I'm a bigot and I think you're a junkie then there is little
>chance of progress.

I do not think your are bigot and I have always respected your
willingness to state your opinions despite being in the minority
in these parts. (Do you still accuse me of arrogance? :)
But if you accept that cannabis is an equivalent risk to health as
alcohol and accept the damage done by having a multi-million pound
uncontrolled criminal market in the trade of cannabis I cannot see
how you can think the present approach is a rational one.

>If there is a law then it must be enforced.

But if a law is being broken by 7 million people there must be
something very wrong and it is time to re-examine that law. Many
police officers do not want to enforce this law and are unofficially
decriminalising possesion through cautions (or no formal action
at all!) but obvioulsy this is not the proper way to do things.

>>In some areas it is now the minority of 15-16 years olds who have not tried
>>cannabis. How are you going to stop it being readily available to minors
>>whilst you leave supply in the hands of illegal dealers?
>The argument that prohibition is not as effective as it should be is
>not relevant. Either there is a case for legalisation or there is not.

Of course the failure of prohibition is important in the debate.
Legalisation is not the perfect solution but is a better approach than
a system where cannabis is widely available in an uncontrolled
market. We class cannabis as a 'controlled substance' yet we actually
have no control at all over it's supply and as a result must expect
it to be sold to minors, alongside heroin and in adulterated forms.

>>How many of the 7 million UK cannabis users will you have to convict before
>>prohibition is a success?
>That's not the way the law works.

How does this law "work" then? What did busting 46,000+ for
possession of less than 1g of cannabis in 1994 achieve? No
reduction in use has occurred. What did seizing over 63 tonnes
of cannabis resin and over 57,000 plants achieve? Certainly no
reduction in availibility. Yet it took up a great deal of police
time and resources - 80% of drug offences involve cannabis.

>>How will you ever win a war on drugs when the police and customs admitt
>>they will only ever seize 10% of illegal drugs?
>New technology in this area will probably push this percentage up. In
>any case you don't ever 'win' the war against crime. The use of
>militaristic terminology in this case is not helpful.

You have to accept, as the police do, that as long as there is a
demand there will be a supply. Personally I would rather that
supply is not met by criminals but by legitimate business.

>>How can you expect young people to take the governments drug education
>>seriously whilst they collude in the promotion of the real killer drugs alcohol
>>and tobacco and criminalise cannabis?
>Maybe we should ban alcohol and tobacco advertising?

I would be all for that and to spend the money that they donate
to the Tory party and spend it on drug education instead.



From: (Simon M)
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 1996 16:33:15 GMT (Stephen Horgan) wrote:

>I would say that it's at least as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco.

How?  I have never seen any evidence for this.  Smoking it may expose
you to risks, just as with tobacco, but ingesting it does not.

>The health risks of cannabis are only a part of the justification for
>prohibition. I would contend that, in these days of health-related
>lawsuits, the active marketing of cannabis would be a very dicey
>proposition indeed.

Cigarette manufacturers will jump at the chance.

>Because they are medical journals. When considering legalisation the
>social effects must also be considered. 

The only social effects are ones that the government has caused by its
ridiculous policy.  When I mentioned that I had smoked weed in the
past my family nearly exiled me completely.  Only my mother, father,
sister and cousins spoke to me for about a year - mainly because my
sister and cousins all smoke and my mother and father love me whatever
I do.  It is the portrail of drugs as a 'problem' that *is* the
problem.  90%+ of users are normal people living normal lives
contributing to the society through work and paying their taxes.

>What I am trying to do is inject some rationality into this debate. If
>you think I'm a bigot and I think you're a junkie then there is little
>chance of progress.

If you look at the evidence, the only rational conclusion is that
prohibition does more harm to society than controlled legalisation.

>If there is a law then it must be enforced.

No, if the law becomes so broken by the public that it is too costly
to implement then public opinion must take precidense.  Like I
constantly say, prohibition of drugs stops people being people - you
will not accomplish it.  I consider the amount of money spent on this
could be better spent elsewhere, like real crimes against person or

>New technology in this area will probably push this percentage up. In
>any case you don't ever 'win' the war against crime. The use of
>militaristic terminology in this case is not helpful.

No, it will mean that drugs trafficers have to invent even more
elaborate ways of smuggling so putting themselves at serious risk, it
will also put prices up which will increase the crime rate as addicts
commit more crime to feed their habbits.

>Maybe we should ban alcohol and tobacco advertising?

What a good idea.  So then it becomes a taboo and youngsters use them
to feel adult.  Great.


Simon M -


From: (Phil Stovell)
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 08:47:26 GMT (Stephen Horgan) wrote:

>There are two main reasons; medical concerns and social concerns.
>Numerous studies have shown that there can be detrimental long-term
>effects of cannabis use. That there may be negative social
>implications is demonstrated by the recent decision of the Dutch to
>tighten up their previously liberal drug legislation.

THE  LANCET, Volume 346, Number 8985, November 11, 1995                

EDITORIAL    Deglamorising cannabis 

" The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to
health.Yet this widely used substance is illegal just about everywhere. There
have been numerous calls over the years for the legalization or at least
decriminalization, of soft drugs, among which cannabis remains the
most popular with all social groups. In this highly contentious area, the
Dutch attitude has often been mentioned as the voice of sanity. In the
Netherlands, customers of coffee shops can buy up to 30 g of cannabis
for about the equivalent of $15, although the drug is technically illegal.
The shops are not allowed to advertise, or to sell cannabis to individuals
aged under 16 years."

The Dutch are reducing the amount that can be bought to 5g. This is
due to pressure from other Schenegen countries, notably France and
Phil Stovell
Petersfield, Hants, UK


From: (Tim Goodwin)
Date: 24 Jul 1996 16:57:41 GMT

In article <>,
Stephen Horgan  wrote:

As has been mentioned several times, this URL is broken.  The correct one is:

You might also care to peruse this document (on the same server):

(Unfortunately the HTML is a bit broken in places, but you can find all
the bits of the document by stripping the `cannabis.htm' off the end of
that URL.)

I quote a few highlights from the conclusion...

    Our review suggests that two of the five legislative options
    discussed in Chapter 4 are inappropriate in contemporary Australian
    circumstances. They are the options which we have characterised
    as 'total prohibition' and 'free availability'. [...] Australian
    society experiences more harm, we conclude, from maintaining the
    prohibition policy than it experiences from the use of the drug.
    [...] We suggest, then, that if governments agree that total
    prohibition is not the most desirable approach, but are unwilling
    or unable to legislate to enable a more preferable option to be
    implemented, then the Dutch approach is a desirable alternative.



From: (David Sullivan)
Date: 24 Jul 1996 18:31:58 GMT (Tim Goodwin) wrote:


From this report:

9.1.4 A caveat

As has been stressed throughout this document, there is uncertainty
surrounding many of these summary statements about the adverse health
effects of acute, and especially chronic, cannabis use. To varying
degrees, these statements depend upon inferences from animal research,
laboratory studies, and clinical observations about the probable ill
effects. In some cases, the inferences depend upon arguments from what
is known about the adverse health effects of other drugs, such as
tobacco and alcohol. In very few cases are there sufficient studies
which provide the detailed evidence that epidemiologists would require
to make informed judgments about the health effects of cannabis; the
interpretation of what epidemiological evidence is available is
complicated by difficulties in quantifying degree of exposure to
cannabis, and in excluding alternative explanations (including other
drug use) of associations observed between cannabis use and adverse
health outcomes. These interpretative problems are especially obvious
in the case of many of the alleged psychological outcomes of cannabis
use in adolescence, since many of these putative "consequences" (e.g.
poor school performance, deviant behaviour) also antedate the use of
cannabis. Nevertheless, these statements provide the best available
basis for making societal decisions about what policies ought to be
adopted towards cannabis use.

[End of extract.]

Even if there are risks associated with cannabis use, this does not
justify any government from prohibiting its use.  What government
should do (for the benefit of the general health of the population) is
(a) to make available the results of objective research and thus to
inform potential users of the risks involved (especially as compared
to risks from other activities, such as tobacco smoking) and (b) to
ensure that such cannabis as is available on the market is of good
quality (e.g. not polluted with weed-killer).  Then potential users
should be free to decide for themselves whether they are willing to
take such risks as exist (or are claimed to exist).  Certainly any
action (involving cannabis or not) which has a high risk of causing
harm to others should be punishable, but an action which does not harm
others (e.g. smoking cannabis in one's own home) is a matter for an
individual to decide, and no-one else (including government) has a
right to prevent an individual from engaging in such an action if they

In short, there is no justification for the prohibition of the use of
cannabis by those old enough to evaluate the evidence of risk and to
decide for themselves what is best for themselves.  Support of
prohibition is support of infringement of individual liberty.


From: MAIN 
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 19:00:05 -0400

Stephen Horgan spewed forth yet more horse shit :
> One thing I have noticed about pro-cannabis campaigners is that they
> are utterly convinced that, not only are they right, there are
> absolutely no arguments in opposition to theirs.

One thing I have noticed, Stephen, is that in the face of facts and
decades, nay, millenia of information and experience, you are unable to
present a case to criminalize marijuana.  I am willing to be convinced,
if only you would (if anyone could) back up your biased propaganda with
something remotely resembling a fact.

Yes I am pro-legalization.  After being involved in this discussion for
about seventeen years now, I'm pretty godamned sure I'm right.  Present
your case here and now .... but so far you've just presented the same
old bullshit that's fucking near petrified in its untenable position.

If you choose not to partake, that does not give you the right to deny
me my preferred forms of recreation & exploration.  The fact that you
advocate taxing me to have the police force your will upon me makes us
deadly enemies.  What if I imposed taxes upon you to have the police
beat your shit up and throw you in jail because you don't use a drug I
choose for you to take ... ?  I think you'd object to that.

I would think that someone who grew up so much closer to the Hitler
method would be thinking about this much much more carefully.


From: (John Yates)
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 09:21:00 GMT (Brian D Milner) wrote:

>I got the following table from: 


>International comparative prevalence figures on hard drug addicts

>                                 Number   Inhabitants   Per 1000 of
>                            of Addicts    (millions)    population
>Netherlands                     25,000          15.1           1.6
>Germany                100,000/120,000          79.8       1.3/1.5
>Belgium                         17,500          10.0           1.8
>Luxembourg                       2,000           0.4           5.0
>France                 135,000/150,000          57.0       2.4/2.6
>United Kingdom                 150,000          57.6           2.6
>Denmark                         10,000           5.1           2.0
>Sweden                          13,500           8.6           1.6
>Norway                           4,500           4.3           1.0
>Switzerland              26,500/45,000           6.7       4.0/6.7
>Austria                         10,000           7.8           1.3
>Italy                          175,000          57.8           3.0
>Spain                          120,000          39.4           3.0
>Greece                          35,000          10.1           3.5
>Portugal                        45,000          10.0           4.5
>Ireland                          2,000           3.5           0.6

>Sources: Bosman and Van Es (1993); Bless, Korf, Freeman, Urban drug
>policies in Europe 1993 (1993); WHO regional office for Europe, European 
>summary on drug abuse, first report: 1985-1990 (1992); Commis- sion of the
>European Communities, Second Report on drug demand reduction in the
>European Community (1992); Bossong (1994); Van Cauwenberghe et al. 1993

Two of the countries in the above list are of special interest,
Holland with the most liberal drug laws in Europe and Sweden with
the most repressive. The figure of 13,500 hard drug addicts given
for Sweden is from a case finding study by the Swedish Health
Institute 1979. A more recent study shows the number of hard drug
addicts in Sweden has increased to approx 17,000 (Swedish National
Institute of Public Health, Stockholm, 1993). In 1980 Sweden declared
total war on drugs and launched the most repressive zero tolerance
drug policy in Europe. Scince then drug use and crime have reached
record levels and today drug use and  crime are escalating out of
control. Earlier this year the Swedish Police Authority announced they
exceeded their budget  by one billion Kronor and are swamped by rising
crime. The categories of crime rising fastest are drugs offences and
economic crime. The Minister Of Justice, Leila Freivalds said last
year that the availability of drugs and weapons are behind rising
crime in Sweden.

Prohibitionists often assert that legalising drugs would cause social
damage, but ignore the immense social damage caused by prohibition.
Apart from prohibition generated crime, the criminalisation of
thousands, potentially millions, of otherwise law abiding citizens and
the vast profits handed over to organised criminals there is another
negative effect of prohibition often ignored by its advocates. That is
the damage prohibition causes to civil rights, privacy and personal
integrity. In their quest for a drug free society, more and more of
the personal liberties of Swedes are being eroded. Swedish police have
the authority to apprehend anyone they think looks like they are under
the influence of drugs, take them to a police station and force them
to give urine and blood samples. Even this isn't enough for them.
Swedish drug users have started hiding their supplies in small plastic
capsules concealed in their mouths while transporting them so they can
be quickly swallowed if stopped by the police. The Swedish Police
Authority has now asked the government for the authority to forcibly
administer emetics to anyone suspected of carrying drugs. It will
probably be granted, so if travelling in Sweden, be careful. If a
policeman thinks you look like you have taken a drug, you can be frog
marched down to the police station, forcibly drug tested and have an
emetic forced down your throat so that the spewed up contents of your
stomach can be examined. And despite all their draconian measures,
Sweden has proportionally more hard drug addicts than Holland. So
there we have two extremes, repressive prohibitionism and tolerant
liberalism. Which of the two routes is best to follow ?  for me the
choice is obvious and simple. Compared to the crime ridden Gestapo
state emerging in Sweden, Holland is a breath of sweet fresh air and
common sense. And not only that, they are a lot more successful in
controlling drugs.


From: (*Love*)
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 07:08:40 UTC

   "More important, perhaps, drug abuse is by no means confined
to those who use illicit drugs such as marijuana.  Alcohol
and prescribed barbiturates and amphetamines are abused by
large sections of the population who are repelled and frightened
at the use of the illicit drugs.  Many who have deep
anxieties about their use of legal drugs seem able somehow
to deny to themselves that they have a drug problem.  They
draw a line between drugs that are harmful and the "harmless
non-drugs" that they use.  Quite naturally, then, they are
upset about attempts to blur this line by moving marijuana
from the former to the latter class.  And when such a move
is defended in part by the often-heard idea that marijuana is
no more harmful than alcohol ... the affront is even greater."
                         From "Marijuana The New Prohibition" 1970
			 by Professor John Kaplan
			 p. 12	 (pb.)

Legal drug users deny they have a problem.


From: (John Yates)
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 09:48:06 GMT (*Love*) wrote:

>Legal drug users deny they have a problem.

Not only that, they also deny they take drugs. A leading
british newspaper recently sent a journalist over to Holland
to try Cannabis. After describing how it had no worthwhile
effects, he reported that next morning he lit a cigar, poured 
himself a whisky and took an aspirin for a headache. His final
comments: "If you have whisky and aspirin, who needs drugs?"
For bone headed stupidity, that remark should win an Olympic
gold medal.

			John Yates


From: (John Yates)
Date: Sun, 04 Aug 1996 17:12:50 GMT (Peter McDermott) wrote:

>But in terms of the distribution of legal supplies of addictive
>drugs, the UK is far more liberal than Holland and always has 

And I understood that a liberal distribution programme in Liverpool
(recently closed down) was highly successful in reducing the
collateral damage of drug addiction. 

>>Who claims that  legalization reduces the rate of addiction and levels
>>of drug abuse? Legalisation reduces a lot of collateral damage, both
>>to the addict and to society, but won't make the hardened wino or
>>junkie sober.

>But this is exactly what the original post was claiming. That
>Holland's liberal policies with regard to cannabis is the 
>cause of a lower rate of addiction in that country. This is the
>only point that I've been arguing in this thread. What made you
>think I've been arguing about anything else?

Because you've not been arguing about anything I said. I noted
that Holland has more liberal policies and lower rates of addiction
than Sweden without asserting causality.
The original post stated some facts about rising drug abuse
and crime in Sweden, reported the Swedish minister of justice who said
there is a correlation between the two and then described the
violations of human dignity the Swedes commit in persuance of their
repressive policy. No mention was made of cannabis in Holland or of
how this might be the cause of lower drug abuse or even a profusion of
windmills. It was stated that Holland has less drug abusers than
Sweden as well as much more liberal and humane policies. The
conclusion being that fascist policies are unecessary as at least one
European country has lower rates of drug abuse without any
of the police state measures the Swedes believe are required. 

			John Yates


From: (Charlie Stross)
Date: 5 Aug 96 13:29:57 GMT

>Can anyone think of any (however small) benefit from the 
>cannabis laws?  Excluding the prison industry (the fastest
>growing industry in the U.S.) or the alcohol industry (who
>always has been against any competition - especially 
>cannabis).  Or the petrochemical industry (who started the
>whole thing to crush the hemp industry).


You can add the wood pulp paper industry. But the real anti-legalization
lobby is the entire extended police industry -- by which I mean everything
from officers on the beat to suppliers of policing equipment, drug testing
labs, conference organizers who run conferences for anti-drug officials,
and the ad agencies who take money to run anti-drug campaigns.

(Are the police an industry? I reckon so. Certainly they take money to
provide a service, and buy goods from a variety of ancilliary businesses
for use in their job. That their employer is the government no more
exempts them from being described as an industry than the NHS from being
described as the UK health industry.)

This is a VERY large, focussed, group who make serious money as a spin-off
of the absolutist anti-cannabis stance. And you may call me cynical, but
I don't expect them to roll over and support legislation which will do 
them out of a large chunk of income. Not without being offered some 
alternative role that will justify keeping up their numbers.


From: (Branko Collin)
Date: Mon, 05 Aug 96 15:43:32 MET
>This is a VERY large, focussed, group who make serious money as a spin-off
>of the absolutist anti-cannabis stance. And you may call me cynical, but
>I don't expect them to roll over and support legislation which will do
>them out of a large chunk of income. Not without being offered some
>alternative role that will justify keeping up their numbers.
Oddly enough, in the Netherlands the police are often the ones in favour of
legalisation, because they are the ones closest to 'the drugs problem'.
They see what harm criminalisation does.

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