Damn. I thought I’d published this a couple of weeks ago. Anyway…
A sample – or, if you will, a ‘teenth:
What we can say is that cannabis use is associated with an increased experience of psychotic disorders. That is quite a complicated thing to disentangle because, of course, the reason people take cannabis is that it produces a change in their mental state. These changes are a bit akin to being psychotic – they include distortions of perception, especially in visual and auditory perception, as well as in the way one thinks. So it can be quite hard to know whether, when you analyse the incidence of psychotic disorders with cannabis, you are simply looking at the acute effects of cannabis, as opposed to some consequence of cannabis use.
The other paradox is that schizophrenia seems to be disappearing (from the general population), even though cannabis use has increased markedly in the last 30 years. So, even though skunk has been around now for 10 years, there has been no upswing in schizophrenia. In fact, where people have looked, they haven’t found any evidence linking cannabis use in a population and schizophrenia.
Does deterrence impact on drug use? We don’t know. In fact, the outcome may be the opposite of that predicted. It may be that if you move a drug up a class, it has a greater cachet.
It’s powerful stuff – though I’m not so sure about that last bit. I’m not sure that classification makes the blindest bit of difference to use, and though I’ve come across plenty of people talking about their consumption of class As, none of them has consumed them because they’re class A. However, I am pretty sure of one thing: criminalisation forces drugs underground, which forces up prices and keeps users dependent and with a disincentive (or at least an imagined one) to seek support to stop. Socially, it’s a disaster.