How to cut the harm caused by cannabis

Regulation would be better than prohibition, writes Dr Colin Bannon. We need more research on which potential users are at most risk of psychosis, says Professor Ian Hamilton

The otherwise excellent article on cannabis thinking

misses a couple of points. First is that commercial cannabis can be regulated to include precise labels about its strength and balance between THC and CBD, thus informing consumers. Currently we have a situation akin to that seen in the prohibition-era US, where drinkers of alcohol had no idea of the strength of the moonshine they were consuming, and their health suffered. Now people know whether they are drinking wine or port. Simple labelling can sort this out.

Then there is the fact that our present legislation has failed by doing far more harm than good, with tens of thousands of lives damaged by criminality, imprisonment and the collateral damage to family and community life. For better or worse, intoxication seems to be a fundamentally human trait: bring it out into the open, regulate, educate and then tax it so the costs of the damage to susceptible individuals can be met by the mass of collective consumers. We do that for tobacco and alcohol. Now is time for the far less damaging cannabis to join the party.

there is little doubt now about the association between cannabis and mental health, but the risk is small in comparison with the number of users. I think it is time to stop repeating studies on this issue as they are adding little in the way of new information. What would be novel is to work out in advance of exposure to cannabis who is at risk of developing psychosis, rather than simply count those who have already unfortunately become unwell.

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