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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 January 2006, 11:29 GMT
South: Legal highs?
Ian Paul
Ian Paul
The Politics Show South

Cannabis smoker

Two years ago, cannabis was downgraded from a class B to class C drug and the Home Secretary Charles Clarke has announced that he would not be reclassifying it.

That announcement follows a review of the situation two years in - two years during which opponents of the drug's change in status have been arguing that it is not as benign as many advocates have argued.

Specifically, there have been concerns about a link between its use and mental illness.

Terry Hammond saw his son become violent towards himself and start hearing voices after heavy cannabis smoking.

He is convinced that there is a link:

"It happened very quickly. Within a few weeks the psychosis came.

"It took three to four years to level off. He is stable now but has a long way to go."

Terry Hammond
Terry Hammond

Terry is pleased that Charles Clarke announced an education programme this week:

"The main thing is to get the educational message across.

"What we need is for prominent peer models - footballers, cricketers, pop stars - who have had mental health problems because of cannabis, to take part.

"Young teenagers are most at risk because their brains are still forming.

"We need to get them to understand that cannabis will cause physical damage." But then what about the so-called "legal highs"?

Politics Show South has talked to revellers at a nightclub in Bournemouth where youngsters stay awake and enjoy the music with the help of "vegetable ecstasy" tablets.

Or maybe buying gulps of laughing gas at a few pounds a go. All perfectly legal - but should it be?

Ketamine, an animal tranquiliser with hallucinogenic properties, used to be a popular dance drug.

Unknown just a few years ago, it started on the gay scene in cities like Brighton, and according to the latest survey by the charity DrugScope had spread to being available nationwide, with some of the lowest prices here in the South.

As part of the 2005 Drugs Act it was made illegal. But what do you think? Was the Home Secretary right not to reclassify cannabis?

Do you think the so-called "legal highs" should still be legal?

Send us an email with your thoughts and we will put them to our panel of invited guests.

The Politics Show

Join Peter Henley live from Guildford on Sunday 29 January at noon on BBC One.


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SEE ALSO:
Cannabis will remain class C drug
19 Jan 06 |  UK Politics
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