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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Should cannabis be legalised?
Jon Owen Jones MP
Former Welsh Health Minister Jon Owen Jones has called for cannabis to be legalised.

Mr Jones has is to introduce a bill to legalise the drug for both recreational and medicinal purposes.

He envisages it being sold alongside alcohol at off licences.

The call comes two weeks after Tory MP Peter Lilley called for the same legalisation in order to break the link between hard and soft drugs.

This talking point is now closed. Please read the comments below.

I don't believe in the criminalization of marijuana. It is just an oppression and is for the benefit of the lawyers. The most abused drug in this country is alcohol and it gets little coverage. I don't believe we should support a criminal element and if you want to smoke, go ahead. If employers want to fight the battle let them. But not the government. Classifying marijuana as a Class 1 substance as cocaine and marijuana is viewed by my friends as absurd. There will be a lot more people vacationing in Vancouver in the next year. When the money doesn't go to vacation spots in this country things will change.
Mike Preston,
USA

I'm 34. I've smoked cannabis for years. I do smoke cigarettes but I rarely drink Alcohol and I have absolutely no interest in taking any other drugs and to date haven't tried anything else. I am happily married with 2 lovely children and earn 80,000 a year.
Cannabis use is everywhere from the unemployed through to company directors. It's time the law was changed so I don't have to acquire cannabis from criminals. It would also open a potentially enormous revenue stream for the government in taxes.
PPA,
England

I'd just like to comment on the statement made by Syd Boulton. Having smoked cannabis for many years and knowing the effects on both myself and others, I could never envisage a large spate of 'stoned hit and run' incident - it just wouldn't happen. Driving while stoned makes you the most timid, relaxed and careful driver on the road - not dangerous and risk-taking that you get after drinking.
Pedros De La Fuente,
El Salvador

Yes canabis should be legalised, it's a herb. Nobody complains about eating thyme or sage - I really can't see the difference.
Sara,
Wales

There is no evidence that using cannabis leads to using harder drugs. As long as non-smokers don't have to inhale it (in the way they are forced to inhale cigarette smoke), then what right does anyone have to say what a free person can, or cannot, put into their body? Freedom of choice.
John,
UK

Cannabis should be legalised for the mere fact that tobacco is legal. Both are addictive and can cause some immediate relief while causing long term problems.
It's a double standard that few appreciate. People refer to cannabis as a gateway drug, in that it leads to the use of harder drugs. It has been shown that most people who smoke weed smoked cigarettes previously. Either legalise cannabis or make tobacco illegal.
Mike,
USA

I have chronic back pain and am currently on 360mg of MST, which is a morphine based-drug for breakthrough pain. I take Oramorph along with other drugs. In the past, I have had botulism injections administered by a chronic pain doctor at my local hospital - all to no avail.
When my pain gets too bad to handle, all the doctors say is "take more morphine," which, I am sure, is slowly damaging my kidneys. The pain doctor told me that the only real thing that would help me would be to smoke a few cannabis joints a day as they are far less addictive than the morphine that I am taking now.
But as he can't prescribe it, I would have to break the law and risk buying it from dealers who I would have no control over as to what I would be getting. Surely it's time the government started listening to the people who know what they are on about.
Tony Flynn,
Abergavenny

The enviromental implications of legalising cannabis are massive and taking away the stigma attached to both cannabis and hemp would be of massive enviromental and economic advantage.
Hemp is a far more sustainable source of paper pulp. One acre of hemp can create four times as much paper as an acre of trees, and it would grow back in a year, whereas even a fast growing tree could take up to 30 years to be ready to be cut again.
Cam Robinson,
Llanelli

Those in genuine need of cannabis should be supervised. When they mix cannabis with alcohol they turn nasty. They are like raving animals. I have experience of people like this and they don't care who they steal from.
Susan Evans,
Swansea

I wonder if Jon Owen Jones MP would have the same opinion if his son had been run over by someone who had smoked cannabis.
Syd Boulton,
Caerphilly

Having smoked cannabis myself, I cannot stress enough how widely used cannabis is and how freely available it has been during the last 10 years of its increasing popularity.
Non-cannabis users would be surprised at the amount of people smoking it leisurely today.
Legalisation should definitely be considered with a full understanding of the drug and its support from the public, with strict rules and measures to be applied if made legal.
'Mr G'

The effects of cannabis enable one to relax and meditate sensibly on one's life and provides some motivation to engage in leisure activites such as art, music, writing and gardening.
By keeping it illegal, the government is able to cash in on the huge amount of revenue generated by sales of alcohol
Cannabis is easily cultivated at home. I have grown it and it is as easy to grow as indiginous grasses. So the need for someone to sell it to me is not there. Unlike home-made beer, the quality of homegrown cannabis is always as good as the black market cannabis.
I feel that it is a shame that, in the 21st century, I can be locked up for growing such a beautiful plant, have my career ruined and be bullied by poorly educated people for being in possesion of such a benign herb.
Lives have not been destroyed by the effects of cannabis but by the effects of the heavy legislation of cannabis.
Geoff Morgan,
Blackwood, Caerphilly

I believe that the substance should be legalised as, in my area, far too much police time and money is being wasted on arresting youngsters like myself for small amounts of cannabis.
Surely they should be concentrating on people who deal harder drugs and people who possess harder drugs.
Anonymous,
North Wales

I feel that this drug is less harmful than getting paralytic with drink each weekend and not knowing what day or time it is, or where you live.
Eastern Countries have been smoking this stuff for thousands of years, and it has done them no harm.
Pete Gunnery,
Pontypridd

I agree with Jon Owen Jones MP that cannabis should be decrminalised.
However, it does not follow that legalisation and regulation of cannabis would put drug dealers out of business. Surely such people would undercut the prices of regulated cannabis as it is a drug that can be easily grown and cultivated.
The best solution is total deregulation, and any arguments that this would lead to crime are as spurious as suggesting that soft drugs lead on to hard drugs.
Andrew Cox,
Cardiff

I would agree with the legalisation of cannabis. I haven't used it in my life, but I'd like to abe able to since I've heard it's a good painkiller and I suffer from arthritis.
Ray Berry,
Glyncorog

Legalising cannabis for recreational and medical use will only lead to more people eventually turning to hard drugs.
C J O'Connor,
Waunarlwydd, Swansea

The argument that Cannabis leads to harder drugs keeps cropping up and for the most part it is a complete fallacy. The only element of truth in the statement comes about due to the current illegal status of the drug. Due to it being illegal, users go to black market dealers for their dope and hence come into contact with hard drugs through this route. If Cannabis were decriminalised it would have the OPPOSITE effect to that you suggest by removing this link
Laurie Knight,
UK
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See also:

06 Jul 01 | Politics
05 Jul 01 | Health
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