Popular intoxicants – how do alcohol and cannabis compare?

September 29, 2011

I am often asked the question “if cannabis was as freely available as alcohol how many would use it and would its harms increase?.  Of course the answer is yes to both. However as about half of young people use cannabis, the increase from removing criminal sanctions would be relatively modest unless it was actively marketed as is alcohol. Certainly the Dutch coffee shop model of regulated but not legalized cannabis access appears not to have increased use since young people in the Netherlands have some of the lowest rates of cannabis use in Europe.

Perhaps the more interesting question is in this circumstance would be what would the net effect on population harms be?  Would liberalising access to cannabis reduce alcohol use to an extent that might reduce the sum total of harms?  This issue is touched on in my new paper in the Journal of Psychopharmacology [Weissenborn and Nutt 2011, Popular intoxicants: what lessons can be learned from the last 40 years of alcohol and cannabis regulation? (PMID:21926420)].  The key points of this paper are briefly outlined below.

A good measure of harm is the costs to the NHS. Hospital admissions for cannabis number less than 1000 per year whereas alcohol now accounts for 1000x as many – over a million last year of which 13,000 were aged under 18yrs.  The role of cannabis in causation of schizophrenia is still controversial – the ACMD in their 3rd cannabis review estimated that to stop one case of schizophrenia one would have to stop 5000 young men or 7000 young women from ever smoking cannabis. Some studies are now suggesting cannabis may help patients with schizophrenia. In contrast, that alcohol causes liver disease is as incontrovertable as is its contribution to the massively accelerating death rates from liver disease in the UK. The frightening contribution that alcohol use makes to domestic violence, child abuse and road traffic accidents were some of the reasons why alcohol scored as the most harmful drug to UK society today in the ISCD scale of drug harms, published in the Lancet last year.

Until the last government induced them to think otherwise by making cannabis a target, the police have always taken the view that cannabis users were much less prone to violence than those intoxicated with alcohol.  Indeed the police were strong supporters of the ACMD recommendation to downgrade cannabis to Class C in 2004. It seems likely that the recent rise in alcohol intake in the UK may have been in part due to the pressure of anti-cannabis policing leading to young people switching their preferred intoxicant to alcohol.

Estimating the true relative harms of alcohol and cannabis is not easy as there are no societies today where the two drugs are equally available. However where neither are legal – as in some Islamic states – alcohol appears to cause more dependence than cannabis, even in Morocco a traditional cannabis growing country.

Taken together we estimate that alcohol is at least twice as harmful to users than cannabis and 5 times more harmful to society. The obvious conclusion is that the current legislation criminalising cannabis users is illogical as well as inhumane and may be causing much more harm than it does good. Time for a rational intervention Mr Cameron?

The full paper can be found in the Journal of Psychopharmacology http://jop.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/09/03/0269881111414751


73 Responses to “Popular intoxicants – how do alcohol and cannabis compare?”

  1. Peter Reynolds Says:

    The truth about cannabis is clear.

    Thank you David.

    • mrblogginz Says:

      Hello Peter,

      I am not at-all SURE that the ‘truth about cannabis’ being CLEAR is absolutely TRUE!

      These things below, however, seem to be irrefutably TRUE,

      1. The United States Government (Heath Department) holds a Worldwide Patent on cannabis and it’s many derivatives, in which, it is claimed that cannabis medicines have new-found and novel healing and medicinal properties which have been discovered to possess particularly useful medicinal properties in the treatment of and also the prevention of injury to the human-brain and body tissues.

      2. Cannabis and it’s many useful derivative products have some of the least toxic effects or side-effects, by any measure, of all known medicinal substances and foodstuffs.

      3. Cannabis yields the highest quantity of ‘healthy’ omega fatty acids of all plants.

      This and numerous similaritiies and other-such matters still remain quite UNCLEAR to me,several things that… to be honest I do not understand at-all!

      So, sorry Peter, I disagree with you, but at the same-time I don’t really know what I’m talking-about!:-)

      I would be really most grateful if anyone would possibly fully explain this all to me in terms of my apparently limited intellect and understanding, is cannabis a relatively safe, tried and trusted effective lifesaving medicine, or a deadly-poison?


      • Blogginz, you are correct. There is a vast quantity of lies, misinformation, deceit and propaganda put about by our government, the alcohol and Big Pharma lobbies, the self-serving “drug support” industry and a few highly qualified scientists and doctors who disgrace themselves by their dishonesty and prejudice.

        Despite this, the evidence is so absolutely clear that in less than five minutes, with the assistance of your friend Mr Google, it shines out like crystal. Yes, cannabis is a VERY safe, tried and trusted, effective life-saving medicine.

        • mrblogginz Says:

          And Peter, it seems that you are right about one-thing, cannabis is indeed an effective medicine and a VERY safe medicine!

          But I would ask you and anyone else to explain to me, why is it that UK citizens are entirely deprived of any choice of treatment with this very-safe and effective medicine and why it is the case that ‘foriegn visitors’ to this country are quite freely allowed to bring-in a wide variety of forms and preparations of cannabis, which they have legitimately and legally obtained on prescription or purchased in their own country, while we British citizens here in the UK are arrested and heavily punished for using or possessing cannabis in any form … in our own country ?

          I don’t quite understand why ‘foreign-visitors’ to the UK have more ‘rights’ and a better-choice of medical treatments and safer-drugs than me …or you, do you?

          The drug ‘Baclofen’ has been mentioned elsewhere on this blog as being very useful for treating alcoholism.

          As you and other readers may or may not know, in times-past, cannabis medicines were successfully used to treat a wide range of addictions including Alcoholism and other many other illnesses including severe mental-illnesses such as psychoses and mania without actually causing the death of one-single patient and apparently being found to have no dangerous side-effects or serious ill-effects at-all.

          I read the following about the drug Baclofen at:- http://www.drugs.com/sfx/baclofen-side-effects.html

          ”In the first 9 years of postmarketing experience, 27 cases of withdrawal temporally related to the cessation of baclofen therapy were reported. Six of the patients died.”

          ‘Baclofen’ it is also claimed has a great many other serious and not so-serious ‘side-effects’ including ‘psychosis’ resulting from it’s use or withdrawal.

          ‘Baclofen’ it seems is likely to make you seriously-ill and even kill-you if after you commence taking the drug, you stop suddenly taking it or even subsequently miss a dose or are unfortunate enough to ever-have any digestive upset resulting in it not being fully absorbed by the body!

          Could or would any sane rationally-minded person claim ‘Baclofen’ to be a very safe-medicine in comparison to cannabis, or a more-effective drug?

          Do we actually have sane or rationally-minded people running our goverment and country?

        • mrBlogginz Says:


          I did as you suggested and sought the assistance of ”your friend Mr Google” whereupon I saw a televised interview with no-less than the Prime Minister himself David Cammeron clearly declaring cannbais to be ‘very, very, toxic’!

          Who is lying here, Mr Google, Mr Cameron or You!?:-/

  2. Very interesting indeed – or it would be if I could read the paper. Sadly it’s behind a paywall and demands US$32.00 just to read it once.

    This is important information that needs to be out there in the public domain, please can we see it?

  3. Alcohol is far more than -twice- as dangerous.. It kills people, herb has NEVER killed a single person… Go figure, this year alone millions… Millions will die from alcohol.

    I not sure how you can come up though with these figures I’d say there is no harm to society from using herb but… I would say there is much harm from Alcohol… I rarely go near by city centre but if it’s dark you can safely bet you will see people everywhere urinating in the streets, causing fights, vomiting all over the place and just making the streets look terrible, disgusting places… Blacked out in gutters where they perhaps were looking for their dignity… A waste of police resources controlling these people… Much vandalism…

    Then let’s have a look at the “evil” infamous stoner… What is his natural behaviour… Oh there he is laid up on the couch enjoying a giggle and a smoke with some close friends…What a criminal.

  4. You’ve omitted to mention that a regulated legal product would be qualitatively different to an illegal one, and this is likely to impact on levels of harm as well.

    – The product would be of know strength and purity (free from some contaminants and bulking agents occasionally found in illegal cannabis).
    – on strength – it would not only be controlled and clearly labelled on the packaging but upper limits could be specified as they are with alcohol products.
    – the ratio of CBD to to THC (thought to have an impact on mental health risks) could also be regulated.
    – packaging could have appropriate health and safety information/warnings
    – regulated venues for sale and consumption could help restrict access to vulnerable youngsters, and encourage consumption without tobacco (and its well understood high risks) or other drugs (such as alcohol).
    – enforcement savings could be redirected in public education about risks or broader prevention efforts aimed at young people or other vulnerable populations

    interesting to note that cannabis use is now higher amongst young people in canada than tobacco smoking. In the US young people report (strictly regulated) alcohol as being less available than (illegal) cannabis.

    final point is that if cannabis use did increase it might be at the expense of alcohol consumption – ie a displacement effect. if your analysis of relative harms this could be a net benefit in terms of total harms.

    • The Ohmbudsman Says:

      I used to smoke cannabis but around 93 the skunk that seemed to be the only thing one could get caused me serious paranoia. The issue is that the politicians making cannabis illegal are the ones forcing people to smoke skunk which is often more harmful as it causes psychosis due to the imbalance of THC and CBD. So it’s the policy that is causing the harm. If cannabis products were legal and regulated then Skunk would no longer be smoke, thus saving people from it’s damaging effects.
      Also cannabis drinks or cake bars could be produced for people who don’t want to smoke.

      • mrBlogginz Says:

        You make a very good-point concerning your ]lawfully/unlawfully??]’ limited choice at this time of the many different ‘types’ of cannabis and being limited ‘By Law’ to one particular type that your body could not tolerate, how starnge?. Thus you were seemingly being deprived of any of the many benefits of the wide variety and different types of ‘cannabis-medicines’.

        Would it be permitted, or even ‘fair’ to compare this sitation to the state of affairs concerning the wholesale provision of the many numerous types of ‘alcoholic beverages’? ….Restrict the choice for drinkers to say,,, ‘Baileys Irish Creme’ or ‘Drambuie’??

  5. ““if cannabis was as freely available as alcohol how many would use it and would its harms increase?. Of course the answer is yes to both.”

    Not nitpicking out of malice – but the answer to “How many would use it?” is “yes?”

    I think this is meant to mean “would many use it?” but I’m not sure.

    Excellent article David, thank you for championing scientific truth in what has become a very emotive and polarised area.


    • mrblogginz Says:

      I’m not nitpicking out of malice either, but it does seem that the ‘harms’ associated with the increasing use of the prescription-drug ‘Baclofen’ has actually resulted in an increase in its harms -according to the drug-company its KILLED 6 people!

      I agree with you about Prof David Nutt’s recent article being excellent, but I haven’t heard him, or anyone else, comment about ‘Baclofen’ and whether it is a safer drug than, for example, cannabis or whether cannabis would be a suitable substitute or alternative to ‘Baclofen'(tm)?

      • Chris Says:

        This article has nothing to do with Baclofen. That sounds like a different topic for a different thread.

        • mrBlogginz Says:

          Well Chris… it certainly has NOW hasn’t it?

          Or do you feel limited to discussing only alcohol and/or cannabis… what about ‘horse-riding’??

          Presumably you have your own point of view?

          I am interested how you could possibly consider the comparison of the use of ‘Baclofen’ and ‘Sativex’ as antispasmodics, could you further explain?

    • mrBlogginz Says:

      Hello Ed, I don’t know whether you [or anyone-else!] is still ‘following this debate’ or blog!?

      Apparently ‘we’ have somehow spawned a group calling themselves ‘comment-warriors’ who diligently [attempt to] pursue every public statement or utterance concerning cannabis and who contest anything deemed to be ‘provably’ ‘inaccurate’ or ‘misleading’ [as is their right and surely something that can be of only benefit to society generally?]

      As for Professor Nutt’s statement, to which you refer, I have to say I am slightly unclear as-well, but I ask this:-

      Does any of this have anything to do with the question of ‘relative’ ‘DRUG-HARMS’ or ‘DRUG-DEATHS?

      For example, in connection to comparison of the relative harms of ‘Baclofen’ and ‘Sativex’

      – BOTH drugs are allegedly proven to be effective-drugs ie ‘useful’ for the treatment of one or more ‘medical-conditions’ another proven-fact being that taking ‘Baclofen'[a laboratory-synthesised ‘new & novel’ medicine] is far-more likely to actually kill-you than is taking ‘Sativex’ [an ‘old’ natural plant derived Cannabis-medicine]

      Who is to say or decide what particular drug would be the best drug of choice for the patient and what would that choice ‘logically’ or ‘naturally’ be of these 2 drugs?

      I am slightly unclear on this as-well.

      I wonder if any medical practitioner who prescribed ‘Baclofen’ instead of ‘Sativex’ as preferred drug of choice could be ‘sued’ or ‘prosecuted’ in the event of the patient’s death from ‘Baclofen’ poisoning? [Best-available ‘practice/practise/evidence etc etc]

      I am slightly unclear on this as-well, but I do hope a Judge will get the opportunity to decide on such cases soon:-)

  6. Lenny Lennon Says:

    Please take note Mr Cameron and thank you for such an insightful article Prof. Nutt.

  7. David Raynes Says:

    It is not just the total who have ever used a drug that matters, what is also very important is how often, how much, what method of use, for what portion of life, what nature of the substance.

    Professor Nutt also confuses two issues, the “removal of criminal sanctions” is not the same as “freely available”. Cannabis is freely available but without explicit societal approval.

    There is ample room for a very substantial increase in cannabis use & harm. We have had a susbstantial increase since the 60s without “marketing like alcohol”

  8. David Raynes Says:

    So often I find Professor Nutt is inaccurate are onlyselective wit the history to suit his purpose.

    The Police were in fact strong supporters of the reclassification to B. Simon Byrne of ACPO told the ACMD on 5th Feb 2008 that the Police had changed their view, they were seeing the problems with youngsters on the ground, and, picking up the pieces. He said he was not interested in locking youngsters up; he wanted early intervention, guidance to youngsters and strong signals sent out that use is potentially very damaging.

    Steve Rolles of Transform was also present and said at that very same meeting. “Cannabis is much more harmful than we thought”.

    You cannabis apologists are entitled to your opinions but not to your own selective editing of the facts.

    • Firstly thanks to Prof Nutt for the blog post, it’s superb as ever.

      And now onto David Raynes reply (I presume you’re the NDPA wannabe Harry Anslinger fella?) How can you attempt to defend the governments hypocritical nonsense position is beyond me. Its the Home Office that distort / ignore the ‘facts’ to suit, using the GHS to estimate alcohol harms in the last drug strategy is a prime example! The Home Office ignored the Portugal model, ignored the advice the ACMD! The Home Office have the contradiction that is Sativex (cannabis tincture) I could go on!

      Alcohol is clearly significantly more harmful than cannabis (and surely even you have to accept this?!) and here we are paying to criminalise cannabis users (mostly young), it’s an indefensible position

      The fact that that alcohol is more harmful doesn’t need to be selectively edited – its simple just look at the lethal dose! Or google korsakoff’s syndrome. How many cannabis fuelled fights do you see on Friday nights in Amsterdam?

      You don’t need to be selective, even the simplest mind (mine) can see which is more harmful to health and society.

      You refer to ‘cannabis apologists’ just who are you talking about? People that see the absurd contradiction in the UK’s farcical drug laws? People that choose, something considerably safer than alcohol? People that don’t want young people criminalised? The medicinal users that need it to get through the pain?

      Your position is flawed from the start as you’re attempting to argue with a Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology who is surely better qualified that you, to measure drug harm? How are you qualified to argue? You worked for the enforcers of the laws, you’re hardly likely to shoot down your previous paymasters! I suspect your motives are linked to protecting your former colleague’s jobs at customs rather than public protection, without drugs they’d have a lot more time on their hands.

      How can we justify the costs of cannabis prohibition? When alcohol is obviously a much bigger problem to public health, why not divert the resources into saving lives and not filling cells?

      It’s also a great insight that cannabis is ‘freely available’ and that use has increased since the 60’s (how come mental health problems are seemingly in decline!?!?) when you’re peddling the myth that prohibition is working! If it is indeed ‘freely’ available why not regulate it?

      If you want to see the effects of decriminalisation go to Holland (surely its worth seeing it first hand!), has society broken down? How many have died?

      As an aside the police commissioners aren’t stupid and are funded based on need, they will follow the easy money, cannabis is a cash cow for them in funding terms, why would they risk their funding? Without cannabis they’d lose out in masses of funding! I suspect the police changed their minds when the saw the budgets…

      The government work very closely with the alcohol apologists and sees them as ‘key partners’ but I assume that’s ok? How can it be?

      The current drug strategy is a waste of time, just like the previous ones, it yet again creates a false distinction between drugs and alcohol sending completely the wrong message to those the home office are apparently trying to protect. Things have to change. The drug laws need urgent review they have completely failed to reduce harm or use.

    • Peter Reynolds Says:

      I am not a cannabis apologist David and no one should be. There is nothing to apologise for about one of God’s greatest gifts that mankind has used safely and effectively for more than 5000 years and which modern science now proves to be fundamentally important to just about every physiological process.

      You, however, are most definitely an apologist for the deeply immoral and failed policy of prohibition, particularly in your past role as a customs officer, personally responsible for catastrophic failures and a huge waste of public resources.
      Your idea of facts is mostly fiction.

      Your fixed point of view will never change because to do so you would have to recognise the misguided failure that has been your whole career. Consequently, everything you say is an attempty to justify what has been a disaster.

      Cannabis is one of our most precious resources which idiotic politicians supported by vested interests such as yours have sought to demonise both in shameful fear of the tabloid press and lobbying from the alcohol and Big Pharma lobbies.

      Everything you say or do is just an attempt to justify the disgusting, prejudiced and discriminatory policy which you have supported. Thank God , the tissue of lies on which you depend is now melting away and very shortly drugs policy will change right across the world.

      There is no integrity in your position at all. You and your sort have caused death, damage and degradation throughout the world on a scale that exceeds even armed conflict.

      Your time is past.

    • ACPO also supported the change to C two years before. They clearly blow with the political wind – as such I dont think they neccassarily represent ‘the police’ view (you would need to do some polling on that – its very clear there is a variety of views).

      Steve Rolles’ position on cannabis harms are very clear form the many published briefings, and books he has produced on the subject over the years. Im probably better qualified to comment on his views than you, as Im am Steve Rolles.

      • mrblogginz Says:

        Hello Steve Rolles!

        I’m sorry to say that your reply, in respect of David Raynes claims that you were present when Simon Byrne of ACPO told the ACMD on 5th Feb 2008 that the Police had changed their view, they were seeing the problems with youngsters on the ground, and, picking up the pieces and that you allegedly stated,

        “Cannabis is much more harmful than we thought”

        Did you actually say this, could you please explain precisely what you meant or mean by this?

        Can you confirm exactly what Simon Byrne said at this meeting about cannabis and do you agree with this or David Raynes account of what was apparently said?

        • Hi

          i dont have a record of what I said as it wasnt recroded to my knowledge – but David has been quoting this back at me with a certain glee ever since, apparently convinced hes caught me letting slip some terrible secret – he was makig written notes as i recall. I may well have said something about increasing potency and harm or research possibly reviealing increased or lower rates of risk – but I suspect it is out of context as i tend to leave that to the medics (like he should) and focus on how to use policy to influence levels of harm in a positive direction, whatever the starting point.

          More importantly if you want to know mine or Transform’s position on cannabis and related harms go and read the relevant blogs by me, or Transform briefings on cannabis which I wrote, or the cannabis section in Blueprint which I authored.

          I dont have a record of what Simon Byrne said either, although I think the written submission is available somewhere.

    • mrblogginz Says:

      Hello David,

      You have part quoted Simon Byrne of ACPO. Do you have an informed and educated view of your own?

      You have ascribed to Professor Nutt what appears to be some sort of oblique or ulterior motive and I’m sure all of the readers here would wish you to do the same in respect of your own motives and intentions in posting here?

      • mrBlogginz Says:

        …seems our chappie’s unusually ‘speechless’ on this occasion eh Bloggins?…

        • mrBlogginz Says:

          …continues self-dialogue… ‘…hmmmnnn, chap probaly realises that if he says anything in favour of anyone taking ‘Baclofen’ and keeps ‘hush’ about the comparative superb results and unparralleled ‘patient-safety’ data that GW PHARMACEUTICALS have amassed/achieved by what must have been extremely strenuous almost Herculean efforts combined with extensive research in pursuit of their beliefs in returning ‘Cannabis Medicines’ to the ‘medicine-chest’

          I think we should applaud GW PHARMACEUTICALS for bringing-back what seems to be a time-forgotten medicine which is actually virtually if not entirely 100% SAFE!!!

          Hip-hip… etc…

          I just wonder for exactly and precisely what reasons cannabis medicines came to be so firmly excluded from the medicine-chest in the first-place… doesn’t anyone else question this?

          …Who could we ask for the Truth?:-/

          • mrBlogginz Says:

            <mumbles, dribbling into beard…]

            I'd like to ask Professor Nutt, I seem to recall an interview where he cited the case of 2 GP's who were disciplined for prescribing 'tincture of cannabis' ie a 'raw-mixture' of the alcohol-soluble cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, which their patients then applied to cigarette-papers which they used to smoke their tobacco! Urban-myth or Truth, could this actually be the reason why Doctors were PROHIBITED from issuing further patient-prescriptions for 'Tincture of Cannabis BP'? If so, It does rather raise the question of why GP's were allowed to continue prescribing 'opiiods' to their patients after the Dr Harold Shipman inquiry, does it not?

            Who actually forbade GP's and others from prescribing 'Tincture of Cannabis' and to-whom were these prescriptions issued, did it alleviate or cure these patient's ills and what substitute or alternative'drug-treament' were they subsequently given whenDoctor's were PROHIBITED from prescribing any Cannabis Medicine?

      • David Raynes Says:

        See the link above. My views are simple. I believe that cannabis is the most harmful non prescribed pharmaceutical drug, used in the UK after tobacco & alcohol, that is in terms of total personal & social harm. It does that simply through being intrinisically harmful for many people and through prevalence. I see no point in normalising the use of another damaging drug.

        My core reason for posting here is ensure that David Nutt does not mislead anyone. I was the first person to say publicly that his position on legalisation (which I got from his Radio New Zealand broadcast) was incompatible with his post at the ACMD. I called for him to consider his position or for government to do it for him. Government did it.

        I looK at anything at all that Professor Nutt says about the drugs issue, through the prism of his 2006 call, in the journal of Psychopharmacology (Editor D Nutt) for the invention of a replacement for alcohol. I note that around the time he made that call, he had very susbtantial investments in at least one pharmaceutical company.

        I draw conclusions from that.

        I suggest you should too.

    • mrBlogginz Says:

      Do you really David Raynes?

      Can we compare and contrast inn detail both yours and Professor Nutt’s statements and declarations to see for ourselves if you are correct… ?

      What shall we start with then?

  9. David Harris Says:

    Since the release of your joint paper with Professor Jonathan Chick and his release along with other noted alcoholism specialist in Glasgow of the conclusions of a two year study into the effectiveness of Baclofen as a treatment for alcoholism, will you now be taking an active role in promoting Baclofen treatment? The treatment is being used, according to Dr. Olivier Ameisen, by up to 50,000 alcoholics in France alone and its prescription by doctors around the world is growing exponentially. It is the subject of a study in Ohio where it is being prescribed for convicts exiting prison who have a history of alcohol related offending and the results will soon be passed to the Governor of Ohio. There are two double blind trials scheduled in France and Holland over the next year but here in the UK there is hardly a mention of it. Professor Chick, who was quoted in the Big Issue and The Guardian as not prescribing over 100 mg per day has now co-signed a report which endorsed the use of Baclofen in doses up to 360 mg per day. Users of Baclofen for alcoholism report a complete suppression of desire to consume alcohol. The effects of alcoholism on the alcoholic and society being so great and the risks of alcoholism in relation to the risks of prescribing Baclofen militate for the earliest introduction of a policy of prescription of high dose Baclofen on a national scale.

    “Substitution therapy”, which Baclofen is not, seems to me to be unnecessary when there is now the real hope of a very inexpensive and very effective treatment for what has until now been thought of as an incurable addiction…and, according to Dr. Ameisen, it is now being used for treatment of opiate addictions in the United States.

    Why do you think that when this treatment has received the attention of the press and television news in France, only 20 miles across the Channel, is there so little impetus in making this treatment known here?

    • mrblogginz Says:

      Hallo David,

      Are you (or is anyone else) advocating the widespread prescription and ingestion of the medicine ‘Baclofen’ (the drug 4-amino-3-(p-chlorophenyl)butyric acid) to treat Alcoholism or any other medical condition eg ‘spasticity’?

      Is ‘Baclofen’ a relatively-safe drug and medicine?

      Is there any alternative ‘safer’ drug or medicine option to ‘Baclofen’ for the treatment of Alcoholism and/or Spasticity?

      Professor Nutt has informed us that there are potential-risks associated with the ingestion of all drugs and he has devised a scale or determination of the actual harmfulness of certain drugs, one of the least harmful of which it seems, is cannabis.

      I understand that GW Pharmaceuticals produce the cannabis medicine ‘Sativex’ and this is currently licensed by the Home Office to be ‘available only on prescription’ for very limited medicinal uses, one of which is apparently for the control of ‘spasticity’ in cases of Multiple Sclerosis.

      Whilst allowing GW Pharmaceuticals to hydroponically-grow cannabis in the UK and produce from this what they describe as a ‘whole-plant extract’ of cannabis in an alcoholic solution for sale mainly abroad, the Home Office and others continue to deny British citizen’s this treatment and whilst allowing foreign-nationals to bring any cannabis-medicines into the UK with them, continue to arrest and severely punish any British subject found to be in possession of even the smallest amount of cannabis. Does this make any sense at all and are our rights being infringed at all?

      I can only ask why the Home Office and others are not similarly treating the drug ‘Baclofen’ or limiting or prohibiting the use of ‘Baclofen’, particularly when ‘Baclofen’ has actually directly killed a number of people who have taken it and it does seem by any measure, that ‘Baclofen’ is a far more ‘toxic’ and dangerous drug than cannabis?

      Perhaps Professor Nutt might be able to give his expert comment or opinion on these particular matters?

    • mrBlogginz Says:

      Can I ask??

      ‘WHO’ is this question actually directed at

      and… Has it been answered?

      ”will you now be taking an active role in promoting Baclofen treatment?”

  10. Dave Says:

    David Nutt, You’re an angel! Let the truth be known!

  11. Phill Says:

    Contrary to what TransformDrugPolicy suggests, I believe the only regulations needed will be the ones imposed by the states. Age limit? How much? Any additives? Any tax to be paid (which I hope will only be a modest sales tax at most)? The federal government has ZERO business imposing its own regulations on what is clearly a states’ rights issue.

    Aside from that, I’m almost certain that further research into the alleged “harms” of cannabis will render the plant’s legality an absolutely astounding idea (as if current research already hasn’t).

    • mrblogginz Says:

      Hi Phill,

      If only the UK followed the lead of other sensible drug/cannais policies in our neighbouring countries, such as Netherlands and those further afield such as Canada and many States of America. The UK stance on this makes us a laughing-stock in the eyes of most of the developed World.

      And just to put the tin-hat on it… not only are we prohibited from possessing even the tiniest amount of cannabis, but it’s ‘legally’ grown hydroponically by ONLY ONE DRUG COMPANY here in the UK and made into ‘cannabis-medicine’ called ‘SATIVEX’ which is described as an alcoholic extract of the whole, ‘raw’ cannabis-plant which is then freely sold abroad and advertised on numerous internet pharmacies for something like £200 for a tiny 10ml bottle! UK citizen’s are told that ‘SATIVEX’ it is too-expensive a medicine for the local PCT’s to fund and that it is ‘prohibited’!

      It’s no wonder that ‘Sativex’ is so outrageously expensive, GW Pharmaceuticals have absolutely NO-COMPETITION here in the UK as there is no competion allowed BY-LAW, on the orders apparently, of the Home Office and others in positions of power.

      At the same time as permitting one-single drug-company to maintain ‘GW Pharmaceuticals’ total market-monopoly position and grow acres of hydroponic-cannabis plants (‘raw-cannabis’) the Home Office issue statements in which, patently contary to the actual-facts, continue to publicly claim that ‘raw-cannabis’ has no medicinal-uses and is ‘very-toxic’ and ‘dangerous’, an obviously ridiculous position when they have licensed the production of ‘SATIVEX’ from the ‘raw-cannabis’ they falsely descibe as ‘useless’. Still, I expect it will make them a nice profit, after-all, who but the most incompetent could pssibly lose-money or make a loss on the only legal cannabis-farm in the UK?

      Wait-for it,,, GW Pharmaceutical apparently made millions of pounds of losses in ‘earlier’ years.

      Could anyone explan this as I am too perplexed to try and form
      any opinion of my own?

    • mrBlogginz Says:

      Here! Here!!


      For some sensible comment,,, anyway…

      And here’s to the widespread availability and choice of, for example, ‘relatively safe and effective*’ Herbal Cannabis Medicines! [* see ‘Baclofen’-v- ‘Sativex’ studies courtesy of ‘GW PHARMACEUTICALS…’

      Hoorah… hip-hip-hoorah!

  12. Jamie Dunne Says:

    You should look at this, Cannabis shouldnt even be called a drug its a very deregatory term:

    Please follow this link below


  13. you have also ommited to include the positive aspects of cannabis being widely available.. and the cost reduction to your NHS and also what benefits would that have on those currently addicted to tranquillsers and other addictive pain meds and so on. i think you should also take into account that cannabis use on its own causes few negative side effects ( as seen in most studies from cali and so on) and even these few can be addressed when its use is guided by a professional cannabis expert who if it was legal could guide the individual into choosing the right strain for them and not leaving people reliant on whats available on the street corner!

    • mrBlogginz Says:


      ”Mrs Tabram’s farmhouse-cooked chicken & leek pie’ on special-offer at ‘Tesco’s for instance… to be washed down with a glass of ‘Fine Hemp-Ale’ -BOGOF of-course!:-)

  14. So alcohol is twice as “harmful to users” as cannabis?

    Over 9,000 deaths per year in the UK related to alcohol
    Zero deaths EVER for cannabis

    So how do you make a finding of relative harms of 2:1 when the data show 9000 : 0 ?

    see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8485122.stm
    and http://www.norml.org.nz/article383.html

  15. otter glasses Says:

    “if cannabis was as freely available as alcohol how many would use it and would its harms increase?. Of course the answer is yes to both.

    the answer to “if cannabis was as freely available as alcohol how many would use it?” is “yes?” very sad. possibly an effect of smoking too much dope too often.

  16. James Conroy Says:

    Another great article David.

    Maybe if we take Uruguay as a case study:


    This is from the Legality of Cannabis wiki page

    “Uruguayan law and governments systematically agree that drug use should be considered a complex multifactorial issue. The law does not consider the user or consumer as the problem. Consequently, drug consumption is legal and is not criminalized in Uruguay. As of April 26, 2011, Cannabis is legal to grow in small amounts for home consumption. Instead, the law prohibits traffic, distribution and production. In general, police acts are oriented towards the reduction of large-scale drug trafficking. By contrast, the state takes a public health approach in regards to the population of users or potential users. These include offering free healthcare services at public events where drug consumption is likely to occur (e.g., rock concerts) and voluntary rehabilitation services. Policy is based on epidemiological evidence regarding demonstrable public harm. Thus, government efforts over the past decade to reduce drug consumption have been largely oriented towards tobacco and alcohol, and more recently coca-paste.”

    What doesn’t make sense about this? Target the more harmful substances like tobacco and alcohol. Take the money out of drugs dealers pockets and put it back into the economy (all 6.6 billion of it if you include all of the other savings on policing etc, laid out in a recent CLEAR report).

    This is what stands out for me:

    ” Policy is based on epidemiological evidence regarding demonstrable public harm”.

    Here, we have to tolerate being made into criminals for smoking, all because Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson wanted to (it didn’t help in the end) win votes in middle england from all of the morons who have swallowed all of the bullshit propaganda over the years about cannabis.

    Where are we? In the 3rd world? Aren’t we supposed to be a liberated democracy?

  17. Jamie Dunne Says:

    Why is my comment awaiting moderation? When someone posted a day after me and is showing on here?

  18. For the last 40 years the world has suffered the disaster of Nixon’s War on drugs.

    Fixing 40 years of failed drug policy will take cleverer people than me. But if the UK can host an Olympic Games, surly we can put a team of experts together to plan government control of drugs. Transform’s Blueprint for Regulation is a great starting point http://goo.gl/5Cta

    During prohibition in the USA, de-criminalising alcohol, would have left Al Capone running booze unhindered. Full ending of prohibition effectively closed down the gangs reign although admittedly, many became legitimate casino owners and public officials in Las Vegas.

    The lesson from the USA is that medical marihuana dispensaries are a good half way point, and to be commended, but full state control of drugs is the only comprehensive solution.
    The state needs to control drugs with;
    – Licensed and regulated manufacture.
    – Licensed and regulated supply via pharmacy’s.
    – Supply of drugs with clear health warnings.
    – Selling of drugs only to adults.
    – No selling to obviously inebriated adults.
    – Hard drugs to be supplied only under doctor’s prescription

    I may not be ‘the sharpest tool in the box’ but, even I can work out that de-criminalisation of drug users leaves the supply in the hands of organised crime.

    Thanks for your work in this regard!

  19. “He said he was not interested in locking youngsters up; he wanted early intervention, guidance to youngsters and strong signals sent out that use is potentially very damaging.”

    Criminal law is not a public service broadcast mechanism. As you have noted here yourself, the “signals” sent by law criminalising cannabis have completely failed to curb any increase in use. It would appear the only “signal” sent by the current law is that the government has no regard for objective scientific evidence in its decision making on drug policy.

    Some interesting findings on the relationship between drug policy and usage:

    Studies conducted in Oregon, California, and Maine within a few years of decriminialization found little increase in cannabis use, compared to the rest of the country; “The most frequently cited reasons for non-use by respondents was ‘not interested,’ cited by about 80% of non-users. Only 4% of adults indicated fear of arrest and prosecution or unavailability as factors preventing use.”


    In 1997, the Connecticut Law Revision Commission examined states that had decriminalized cannabis and found any increase in cannabis usage was less than the increase in states that have not decriminalized cannabis; furthermore, the commission stated “the largest proportionate increase [of cannabis use] occurred in those states with the most severe penalties.” The study recommended Connecticut reduce cannabis possession of 28.35 grams (one ounce) or less for adults age 21 and over to a civil fine.


    In 2001, a report by Robert MacCoun and Peter Reuter entitled “Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes,” was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The report found there was no available evidence cannabis use would increase if cannabis were decriminalized.


    Please also read the two studies referenced earlier regarding prohibition and the lack of deterrent effect.

    In 1999, a study by the Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Health at the Institute of Medicine entitled “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base,” concluded “there is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use


    In 2004, a study entitled “The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and in San Francisco,” found strict laws against cannabis use have a low impact on usage rates.


    I long for a departure from the current myopic mess of soundbites which we call “debate” on drugs in this country. Perhaps we should stop talking soundbites about “signals” and start looking at the facts?


  20. There is some confusion being created between the terms (re) legalized and regulated. They are not mutually exclusive.
    A legal product is often regulated..Legalize and regulate?.. yes

  21. I think the answer is home grown pref. with LED. No tax, no trafficking, no dealers, quality control, seed saving(?), permaculture..and in addition > regulated dispensaries for oil/tincture etc. for those too ill to grow. Coffee shoppes? I am unimpressed; no quality control and supports supply mafia no doubt thru backdoor.

  22. Am registering single policy party ie review drug policy. Wife will leave me if I do. Suggestions?

    • Peter Reynolds Says:

      Join CLEAR, the single policy party that is already making a difference:

      Not a pressure group, nor an academic talking shop but people joining together to fight for what is right!

      1. To end the prohibition of cannabis.
      2. To promote as a matter of urgency and compassion the prescription of medicinal cannabis by doctors.
      3. To introduce a system of regulation for the production and supply of cannabis based on facts and evidence.
      4. To encourage the production and use of industrial hemp.
      5. To educate and inform about the uses and benefits of cannabis.


  23. Am a member of Clear, you do great work. I feel so strongly on this issue want fight full time… but must pay the mortgage. Trying to work out how to do both. Sure, for a job, am available at your convenience.

  24. Gary Daly Says:

    The truth about cannabis is CLEAR. But only us few know it! TIME TO TELL THE MASSES!

  25. I don’t drink alcohol because even a small amount makes me lethargic for 6 days. So the hypocrisy is frustrating to say the least.

    At a dinner party Saturday night, our gets were proudly talking about their young children’s (17yo) drinking habits, while cannabis is evil! When I suggest I’d rather my kids didn’t take any drugs, but would prefer they vaporised cannabis than drink alcohol… the guests were outraged.

    If we put forward a compelling argument for the legalisation of cannabis we are dismissed as “twisting the facts” or “heard it all before” etc

    I despair!

  26. Steve Says:

    Hello to Prof. Nutt and anyone else reading,

    I have been an enthusiastic supporter of Prof. Nutts appoach to drug use for some time, and would like to take this opportunity to discuss an issue which is relevant to the general debate but , I admit, not really to the current post.

    People have been using drugs for recreational purposes since we all climbed down out of the trees. if we are to accept this , as I believe we should , then we must also accept that for some people use will go beyond recreational, and become dependence.

    I spent 38 years as an alcoholic before finally giving up 7 years ago.What many people fail to realise is that giving up is actually the easy part.The real challenge lies in learning to live without your self prescribed medication.I went quitely mad over the first four years and was finally admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
    Meaningful , i.e. long term, NHS support for recovering addicts is non existent.

    Alcohol was my chemical of choice because it is cheap,legal ,freely
    available and intrinsic to our culture, but I also abused other drugs,as is commonly the case, as and when available.

    I have been a member of AA for some time .It has the strength of being run by alcoholics for alcoholics,and is independent,free and open to all. It has a great weakness in that its character and programme are derived from mid 20th century fundamentalist Christian evangelism, and that in many ways it resembles a religious cult. There is an acknowledged ,although not discussed,
    private view that overall AA does more harm than good.It certainly
    frightens away many people who would benefit from talking with others.

    I have a keen interest in helping other people overcome addiction and come to terms with its causes, and would like to take part in the establishment of a secular peer group support service that can offer long term unconditional help to recovering addicts.
    Prof. Nutts blog is the only site on the web to advocate enlightened progressive thinking on the subject, which is the reason why I am making this submission.I believe that continuing support for recovering addicts is essential, but apart from AA and other 12 step programmes , is not available.

    I hope that you will publish or respond in some way to my post, as I would be interested in an exchange of views with other people.

    Thank you.

    • David Harris Says:

      You need to take a look at http://www.baclofenuk.com which provides information about the use of Baclofen to effectively eliminate addictive cravings of all types. AA is no greater success rate than spontaneous remission from alcoholism, about 5% whereas Baclofen works in over 80% of cases. There are nearing 50,000 people being treated in France at the moment and the government is planning a major double blind trial as we speak so that it can be rolled out as a treatment for alcohol addiction. Why we in the UK know so little about this is criminal and shameful.

      • mrBlogginz Says:

        Hello David Harris,

        Do you think in the interests of informed-choice, you should perhaps also be advising people to take a look at the information below concerning Baclofen side-effects, some of them ‘life-threatening’?


        Side Effects by Body System – for Healthcare Professionals
        Nervous system

        Nervous system side effects have been common. They have included transient drowsiness and sedation in as many as 63% of treated patients. Dizziness, weakness, and fatigue have been reported commonly. Akathisia, ataxia, opisthotonos, nystagmus, somnolence, dystonia, and decreased reflexes have also been reported. At high doses, coma and respiratory depression may occur. Dystonia, dyskinesia, chorea, encephalopathy, seizures (including generalized nonconvulsive status epilepticus), catatonia, and frontal lobe syndrome have been reported rarely. A case of recurrent transient global amnesia has also been reported.

        Most of the side effects listed above were reported following intrathecal injection of baclofen. In addition, patients receiving intrathecal baclofen may be at risk for baclofen toxicity or withdrawal due to pump/catheter malfunction, patient position (facilitating rostral spread) and other factors.

        In the first 9 years of postmarketing experience, 27 cases of withdrawal temporally related to the cessation of baclofen therapy were reported. Six of the patients died. In most cases, symptoms of withdrawal appeared within hours to a few days following interruption of baclofen therapy. Common reasons for abrupt interruption of intrathecal baclofen therapy included malfunction of the catheter (especially disconnection), low volume in the pump reservoir, and end of pump battery life. Human error may have also played a causal or contributing role in some cases.

        Prevention of abrupt discontinuation of intrathecal baclofen requires careful attention to programming and monitoring of the infusion system, refill scheduling and procedures, and pump alarms. Patients and caregivers should be advised of the importance of keeping scheduled refill visits and should be educated on the early symptoms of baclofen withdrawal.

        All patients receiving intrathecal baclofen therapy are potentially at risk for withdrawal. Early symptoms of baclofen withdrawal may include return of baseline spasticity, pruritus, hypotension, and paresthesias. Some clinical characteristics of the advanced intrathecal baclofen withdrawal syndrome may resemble autonomic dysreflexia, infection (sepsis), malignant hyperthermia, neuroleptic-malignant syndrome, or other conditions associated with a hypermetabolic state or widespread rhabdomyolysis.

        Rapid, accurate diagnosis and treatment in an emergency room or intensive care setting are important in order to prevent the potentially life-threatening central nervous system and systemic effects of intrathecal baclofen withdrawal.

        The suggested treatment for intrathecal baclofen withdrawal is the restoration of intrathecal baclofen at or near the same dosage as before therapy was interrupted. However, if restoration of intrathecal delivery is delayed, treatment with GABA-ergic agonist drugs such as oral or enteral baclofen, or oral, enteral, or intravenous benzodiazepines may prevent potentially fatal sequelae. Oral or enteral baclofen alone should not be relied upon to halt the progression of intrathecal baclofen withdrawal.

        Seizures have been reported during overdose and with withdrawal from baclofen intrathecal as well as in patients maintained on therapeutic doses of baclofen intrathecal.

        Abrupt withdrawal of intrathecal baclofen (regardless of the cause) has resulted in sequelae that includes high fever, altered mental status, exaggerated rebound spasticity, and muscle rigidity that in rare cases progressed to rhabdomyolysis, multiple organ system failure, and death. Sudden discontinuation of baclofen may result in neuropsychiatric signs and symptoms of withdrawal including confusion, seizures, psychosis, hallucinations, disorientation, dyskinesia, and visual disturbances.

        A case has been reported of a febrile reaction to subarachnoid baclofen administration.

        Cases of intrathecal mass at the tip of the implanted catheter have been reported, most of them involving pharmacy compounded analgesic admixtures.

        One small study has reported, however, that the frequency of depression and anxiety in baclofen-treated patients is not different from patients not taking baclofen.

        Psychiatric side effects have been reported including paranoia, mania, euphoria, depression, anxiety, psychosis, hallucinations, paresthesias, hysteria, and personality disorder.

        Cardiovascular side effects including hypertension, bradycardia, and orthostatic hypotension have been reported.

        Gastrointestinal side effects including nausea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dysphagia, fecal incontinence, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, and tongue disorder have been reported (especially with rapid dose increases).

        Genitourinary side effects including urinary frequency have been reported in 2% to 6% of treated patients. Enuresis, urinary retention, dysuria, abnormal ejaculation, kidney calculus, oliguria, vaginitis and impotence have also been reported.

        Endocrine side effects including ovarian cysts have been palpable in 4% of women treated with baclofen for up to one year.

        Respiratory side effects including apnea, dyspnea, and hyperventilation have been reported. Cases of acute bronchospasm (particularly in patients with asthma) have been reported rarely.

        Hepatic side effects including elevated liver function tests have been reported rarely.

        Dermatologic side effects including rash, sweating, alopecia, contact dermatitis, and skin ulcer have been reported.

        Hematologic side effects including leukocytosis and petechial rash have been reported.

        Other effects including fever, malaise, hypothermia, slurred speech, nightmares, confusion, headache, memory impairment, insomnia, and excitement have been reported.

        Oncologic side effects including carcinoma have been reported.

        Musculoskeletal side effects including ataxia and muscle pain have been reported.

        General side effects have included effects on sleep. One study has reported that a single, therapeutic dose of baclofen alters sleep architecture and produces a small reduction in mean sleep oxygen saturation, but does not significantly increase sleep disordered breathing.

  27. hd420p Says:

    good work prof.

    I find it disgusting that I can raise two children and hold a job down for 15 yrs. Yet cannot ingest a plant with proven medicinal qualities.

    Some of us would rather not smoke hydroponic cannabis fed with unregulated chemical salt fertilizers. Why is our government not protecting its citizens?

    what a shocking state of affairs.

  28. Fishyman Says:

    I have been a drinker (alcoholic) and a user of drugs (drug addict). Both are intoxicants which carry their own issues. I was a heavy cannabis user for 30+ years and still held down a good job and nobody was any the wiser to my use. I am now clean from all substances and have experience of both, you wouldn’t trust a sex expert who was a virgin would you?

    My point is that prohibition is the big problem, it allows those who abuse alcohol to hide behind the veil of legal status, even many health professionals fail to look at the issue in the cold light of scientific facts. Yes they are all dangerous when abused but out of context facts are pushed by politicians who fear letting the cat out of bag Cannabis for example is seen as a dangerous drug but I had been a user for 30+ years even living in Amsterdam for 3 years home of the so call “stronger stains” and never witnessed this psychosis that is now the media hype against it. It may happen in rare cases but it is never put in context . There is never a mention of alcohol psychosis which has also been proven. I am not trying to promote one drug over another but while there is this ridiculous situation of mine’s legal so its OK or mine’s cooler/ rebellious (illegal Drugs) then the sensible approach of social education and safer substance use will always fail. Prejudice is ignorance, people believed women were incapable in a man’s world, would we ever want to go back.

    Poor old Professor Nutt was sacked by Tony Blair for telling the facts, who would you believe a politician or an expert neuropsychopharmacologist. Get out there and look at this in a scientific way, don’t listen to the media and website with their own agenda . After all, all we want is a safer society. Think of all the money spent by the government on prohibition that could be spent on education and rehab. Also crime would be reduced and money taken from out of the hands of criminals.

    I believe that there maybe a link between those who suffer from mental health issues caused by cannabis and a previous existence of potential or existing mental health issues. Our families are breaking down and our society is one of winners and failures. It is no surprise to me that the metal health of our youth is in a poor state. Also research should not just be on so called stronger stains but also the different stains. Indicia (fast growing/high profits) types give a more physical and downer type effect, Cheese would be one of these types and is very available.
    Sativa types (slow to grow/low profit) give a more high and sociable effect. When I was a user I would always prefer a sativa type (Haze).

    My advice is if your not the user then try and find out why they have turned to substance abuse, the drug use is normally a sign of underlying problems. I started smoking because of social exclusion and internal family problems. Going home every night and opening a bottle of wine is also substance abuse, stop your own abuse if you want others to change theirs.

    If you are a user then I don’t say don’t do it but all substances can be abused. If you can’t have a few days without then you may have a problem, believe me a little bit of clarity can help to solve issues that drive people to drink and drugs.

  29. I fully agree: the marijuana prohibition is just as ineffective as it is irrational. A short look at the history of the marijuana prohibition shows that the public opinion has been shaped now for more than eight decades by a disinformation campaign started in the U.S. in the 1930’s. Let me add that when we compare marijuana with alcohol and look at their respective effects on individuals and on society as a whole, we should not only look at the risks, but also at the positive potential of the two substances. I think it must be part of the hedonistic/utilitarian calculus here. For a take on the marijuana prohibition see my short article http://sebastianmarincolo.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/nightmare-marijuana-prohibition/

  30. As a chronic pain sufferer myself (hypermobility syndrome), I would be so happy if I could obtain cannabis legally, is very effective for pain relief and less addictive from the opiate painkillers I’m on now. I don’t see what the problem is with it. It does help people in pain, and we have to suffer with out it because no one can be bothered to look at it properly.

    • Ryan Trezise Says:

      This is the biggest disappointment in our society. Marijuana is known for it’s medical benefits, and it is 100% natural. Think if you visit a doctor, you are pumped with chemicals from huge pharmaceuticals that don’t care about the health of their patients, simply of their profit margins. The stigma of marijuana needs to be removed and it needs to do what it does best – help those in need of it.

  31. Ryan Trezise Says:

    Hi David,

    I’d just like to say how refreshing it is to hear a true professional give his honest opinion on what is clearly an issue of never-ending debate. I regularly smoke marijuana and occasionally enjoy a drink or two of a weekend, however, I have held down a long-term relationship, a comfortable job and do everything I feel possible to stay within the law. It is increasingly frustrating when the truth about marijuana is put into the public domain (for example, when you said back in 2009 about how alcohol is far more damaging than cannabis, losing your job in the process), and it is always attached with a certain stigma that some people do not understand. My mother works for the Ministry of Defense, my father and brother are soldiers, I work for an energy company and my family and the majority of my friends know of my marijuana habit – HOWEVER – not once have I smoked during or before work, or when I am due to drive anywhere or undertake anything too strenuous. I found it quite surprising when you explained about Holland having one of the lowest rates of cannabis use. Your views (which are both insightful and fascinating) always intrigue me, and give me less faith in modern day government.

    I have written to my local MP, Mr Richard Benyon, on why I believe that the legalisation of marijuana would be beneficial for numerous parties, but (as expected) I received a letter some two months later, pretty much telling me how ill-informed I was on the subject.

    We are currently approaching a world-wide economic meltdown and when you think of the largest producers of cannabis (Afghanistan, Morocco, etc) also being some of the poorest, it begs the question – what if we come together for a mutual gain. Using Afghanistan (for example) as a major exporter of marijuana would both build economies around the world and also for itself. Those who choose not to smoke cannabis would not, the choice is all that some seek, rather than the risk of jail time for simply buying a plant from any Tom, Dick or Harry that sells it. The current system plays into the hands of the greedy – corrupt Westminster politicians (the majority of which I expect used cannabis in their younger years…although maybe they didn’t “inhale”).

    Being the most commonly used illegal drug amongst the young does not surprise me about marijuana, but simply disappoints me that this statistic is swept under the carpet rather than dealt with head on.

    Currently, £20 will get you around 3 grams of normal home-grown marijuana (stronger “skunk” will be much lighter and far more expensive and, coming from a regular smoker, it does not taste natural – I do not smoke it at all). Think of how many people part with £20 in order to attain something so small. If it was legal, the local authorities would tax it, aiding our crumbling economy, as well as give people a sense of freedom and happiness.

    Known well as an anti-depressant, as it is simply a plant, marijuana does not serve as addictive, although dependance can be placed upon it. The main difference between marijuana and alcohol is clear. Alcohol kills, causes a range of diseases and accidents when “under the influence”, whereas the worst effect that one would feel through a few hours of smoking marijuana would be hunger and tiredness – so rather than drinking too much, being sick, causing anti-social behaviour, or maybe even driving, marijuana will simply either make you fall asleep or eat a little too much.

    The stigma attached to marijuana is something that needs to be addressed, through stern education and research. And please, oh please, Professor Nutt, if you EVER need an under-qualified research partner, please contact me!!

    Keep up the great work,

    Ryan Trezise
    Newbury, Berkshire

  32. Pete Kirby Says:

    This is definitely a useful debate to be having. I just want to query the statistics. Professor Nutt says that ‘about half of young people use cannabis’ and I wonder what the source is for this. According to ‘Smoking, Drinking and Drug use among Young People 2010’ 18% of 11-15 yr olds had ever tried ‘drugs’ (not alcohol or cigarettes) and only 8.2% had taken cannabis. Frank says 1in 6 (16.6%) of 16-24 yr olds had tried it in 2010/11 and on the website of The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (of which David Nutt is chair) it says 18.7% of 16-24 yr olds had taken Cannabis at least once last year. Where does ‘about half’ come from?

  33. Just wanted to say THANK YOU, Professor Nutt! I came to the same conclusions on my own (though only through my own observations and not to the extent you have) and I completely agree with you. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future! Really, sincerely, thank you for your work. 🙂

  34. mrBlogginz Says:

    I’d actually like to see Professor Nutt as Home Secretary!

    I’m sure Professor Nutt could do this job entirely in his afternoon tea-break and do it a lot more effectively than some could …and have actually thus-far done in their entire ‘working’ lifetime… ‘working’,,, towards what exactly???

  35. I think cannabis should be legal. My reasons:when people change and move forward, life is difficult. Not to mention, I always liked beads and shag carpeting. Who should be riding horses anyway? What a nasty habit!

  36. […] that worked there (or a large majority of them). I think Nutt is still fighting the good fight. Popular intoxicants BBC News – Mind-altering drugs research call from Prof David Nutt UK Drug Chief Fired For […]

  37. Reblogged this on 420smokersblog and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  38. mrshameed Says:

    This is what I know and I can only speak for myself on the difference between alcohol and herb: when I drink (I don’t anymore but when I USED to), I woke with a hangover or still drunk; now, if I over smoke (and yes, it’s very possible to do so), I STILL wake up clear headed and rested. The fact is that alcohol does damage to the body, the mind and the soul- it’s a depressant by NATURE; cannabis, depending on the strain, has a host of ways that it HELPS the body, the soul, the mind. I have heard it said that knowledge is power- we have a LOT of ground to cover because the drug war has raged a long, long time and now we have to UNDO all the damage that has been done. When it comes to the government, since we now have at least PART of the truth- we must share it with anyone and all who’ll listen. Free the cannabis “martyrs” and get on with life.

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