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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 March 2005, 00:27 GMT
'Cannabis destroyed my brother'
Cannabis plant
Pam Blake says her brother smoked every day
As home secretary Charles Clarke re-opens the debate on the classification of cannabis, one woman tells the BBC how she believes the drug destroyed her brother's life.

Pam Blake, 51, from Hayling Island near Portsmouth, said her brother Brian Buckman spiralled into schizophrenia and delusional behaviour because of his heavy smoking.

Brian started smoking at a very young age, in his teens.

We used to live near Henley-on-Thames and he grew his own cannabis. I have two other brothers, both straight as a die, and one of them found his plants growing in the greenhouse.

My father hit the roof and my brother promised he'd never smoke again.

'Practically disowned'

My brother was a daily smoker and he used to smoke the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day.

I saw his decline. He was a very intelligent guy. He was married and he has a 21-year-old son who hasn't seen his father now for 19 years.

I had a phone-call once from the police in High Wycombe saying they had found him. He was talking like a Rastafarian and he believed he was John the Baptist.

I had to get him sectioned which absolutely broke the family up. My father and mother had very old-fashioned ideas about mental illness - you didn't speak about it - and they practically disowned him.

He came to live with me. He would be awake all night and sleep all day.

One doctor asked me if he was smoking cannabis and I said he was - she believed that was what triggered his downfall.

I don't think cannabis should be legalised. It's not the same as cigarettes and alcohol.
Pam Blake

They put him on medication because they believed he was schizophrenic - he was hearing voices, saw messages in the paper and was having delusions of grandeur.

My parents moved to Wales, and he moved with them. For about four years he was fine. But when my father died he became depressed and that tipped him over.

My brother believed he had written the Boney M song Brown Girl in the Ring, things like that.

I believe the last time anyone saw him was around High Wycombe in 1996 and he was basically living the life of a down-and-out.

I believe his problems were brought on by the smoking. He had to have 28 days off it while in hospital and he improved. He seemed in better shape to me.

The family tried to get hold of him after my mother died a few years ago and we couldn't find him. I went to a medium, and she said he had gone.

I don't think cannabis should be legalised. It's not the same as cigarettes and alcohol.



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