Well cannabis to be more specific. I'll be honest from the start and say that as a Probation Officer I've paid little attention to the subject, always having drawn a distinction between it and other potentially more dangerous mind-altering substances. I'm aware that cannabis strains have increased in strength over the years, but I've still never come across a case of anyone having been beaten sensless as a result of an assailant being high on the substance, unlike alcohol or crack cocaine of course.
On the contrary, I've been involved in several cases of cultivation for personal use which have been vigorously defended on the grounds of significant beneficial effect for serious medical conditions. I well remember one guy presenting the judge with a significant file of information, gleaned mostly from the internet, and which he agreed to read over the weekend before reluctantly imposing a two year Probation Order.
As far as I'm aware, and I speak as someone who has never tried exotic herbal substances myself mainly because I don't smoke, the most harm that can be caused by the stuff is that meted out by the Criminal Justice System. Having said that, there are always exceptions and I am also aware of the risk posed by say skunk if used grossly to excess and the possible mental health effects such as paranoia. But surely all this has to be seen within the context of the utter mayhem caused on Friday and Saturday nights by alcohol, together with the horrors of people assaulting their bodies with dodgy needles, filled with dodgy substances and in dodgy circumstances?
I have never subscribed to the view that cannabis should be treated seriously by the
authorities because it is a so-called 'gateway' drug. I think it's a ludicrous argument, especially as heroin users are far more likely to have started on alcohol. The only real problem with cannabis in my view is that it's illegal. At some point a future government is going to have to grasp this nettle, de-criminalise the substance and put it on the same footing as tobacco. That way we might all be spared the damned flypasts by the Force helicopter on a regular basis looking for 'hot' roofspaces with their infra-red imaging cameras.