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Monday, 9 July, 2001, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Psychiatrist issues cannabis warning
Addict
Addiction should be considered in a social context
Politicians should exercise extreme caution before legalising cannabis, says a leading psychiatrist.

Professor Griffiths Edwards, of the National Addiction Centre, warned that it would be wrong to legalise the drug without extensive examination of the complex social reasons which led people to use it.

He warned that ill-thought out action could disrupt drug culture, and end up being counter productive.


I would plead with politicians and the media not to jolt the drug ecology

Professor Griffiths Edwards
His comments follow a call from Home Secretary David Blunkett for an "adult debate" on the reform of the cannabis law - paving the way for a possible rethink in government policy.

But Professor Edwards, who spoke at the Royal College of Psychiatrists annual meeting on Monday, said it was vital that politicians, health bosses and others in positions of power were not bounced into a knee-jerk response by media campaigns.

Epidemics

Cannabis
The question of legalising cannabis is being considered
He said: "The whole message is that drug epidemics swing into sight very quickly. The whole message is prudence, prudence.

"And I would plead with politicians and the media not to jolt the drug ecology.

"Liberating the laws on cannabis runs that risk and this is a plea of caution.

"If you make tranquillisers easily available then they will be used by mums in tower blocks as a way of making their lives more bearable."

Cause and effect

Rosie Brocklehurst, of Addaction, said it was time for a national profile of drug addiction looking at cause and effect.

She said there was too little data available to give an accurate picture.

"I think the whole field of drug and alcohol misuse is fraught with a lack of comprehensive data"

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See also:

08 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Blunkett calls for cannabis debate
30 May 01 | Health
'One dose danger' of cocaine
13 Aug 00 | Health
Acupuncture for cocaine addiction
09 Apr 00 | Health
Drug 'reduces cocaine craving'
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