MP backs anti-cannabis campaign

July 31, 2007 1:10 PM

MarkCheadle MP, Mark Hunter has this week backed campaigners fighting to have cannabis reclassified as a Class B drug. Just last week Mark supported an Early Day motion in Parliament which spoke about the damaging effects of cannabis and set out the case for reclassification. The EDM supports the work of 'Talking About Cannabis', an action group formed by parents with first hand experience of the effects of cannabis on young people. The group aims to raise awareness of the harmful medical effects of cannabis, especially on the mental health of children and teenagers. It focuses on education in schools to convince children and young people not to use drugs.

In the same week that the EDM was tabled scientists at Bristol and Cardiff Universities have discovered that cannabis users are 40% more likely to suffer a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia. The study found that the most frequent users of cannabis have twice the risk of non-users of developing psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. The experts also estimate that the use of cannabis could be factor in the 14% of psychotic problems among young people in the UK. This report comes after the announcements earlier this month that a string of Cabinet ministers admitted to using cannabis when they were younger.

Speaking about this issue Mr Hunter said: "The 'Talking about Cannabis' group does very valuable work. Young people need to know that cannabis is a harmful drug that can affect their permanent long-term mental health.

For far too long cannabis has been treated as if it were a 'safe' drug, this is simply not the case and the only way to convince young people of this is to reclassify it and educate them as to its effects. The arrival of more potent forms of cannabis, such as "skunk" have raised the stakes in this argument. Another growing problem is that people do not know what is contained in the drug, and the effects of these ingredients on their bodies and minds. The expert analysis announced this month should warn young people that regular use of cannabis can be dangerous and that educators are not exaggerating its effects but are simply trying to safeguard their health."

ENDS

Notes to Editor: Below is the text of the Early Day motion number 1964, 'Talking about cannabis campaign'

"That this House notes that Talking About Cannabis (TAC) is a new action group formed by parents with first hand experience of the effects of cannabis on young people; congratulates TAC for its campaign to raise public awareness of the scientific and medical effects of cannabis, particularly the more potent strain known as skunk, on the mental health of children and teenagers; further congratulates TAC on its focus on preventative drug education in schools in an attempt to stop children from becoming users; supports TAC's campaign for the reclassification of cannabis to Class B from Class C in order to send out a clear message that smoking cannabis in childhood and teenage years is highly dangerous; and calls on the Government to adopt the approach recommended by TAC."

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