Pubdate: Sat, 04 Aug 2001
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd
Authors: K. R. Tatchell, Dale Gieringer, Francis Wilkinson


 From Mr K. R. Tatchell

Sir, Dr Thomas Stuttaford (Times 2, July 31) describes the possible
after-effects of smoking marijuana and says he would not support any
relaxation in the current legislation.

However, the only effect of the current law is to put money in the
pockets of criminals without in any way controlling drug use.

Surely it would be sensible to license the sale of marijuana from
suitable premises with a health warning on every packet, listing all
the relevant side-effects? Users would then be sure of a reliable and
consistent product and would be reminded that the habit was damaging
their health.

Yours sincerely, K. R. TATCHELL, Patmos, Limers Lane, Bideford EX39
2RG.  August 3.

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 From Dr Dale Gieringer

Sir, Dr Thomas Stuttaford refers to my survey on cannabis and driving

I did not suggest that cannabis users are "three to five times" more
accident-prone than normal drivers. I found that "significant blood
levels of tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC) occur three to five times more
frequently in fatal drivers than the general population". Of course,
the same might be said for alcohol or any other drug, but this says
nothing about the accident risk for the typical alcohol or marijuana
user, since only a small, abusing minority are fatal drivers.

I also found that THC-related driving fatalities appear to be entirely
due to the combination of marijuana with alcohol, whereas marijuana
use by itself appears to be a minor or negligible risk factor in fatal

Subsequent driving studies have suggested that cannabis use by itself
is, if anything, associated with lower accident risks.

Yours faithfully, DALE GIERINGER, 3514 Dwight Way, Berkeley,
California 94704.  August 2.

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 From Mr Francis Wilkinson

Sir, In November 1998, when The Lancet reviewed the copious medical
research on cannabis, it concluded that on the medical evidence
available, moderate indulgence in cannabis has little effect on
health, and that decisions to ban or to legalise cannabis should be
made on other considerations.

 From a health perspective in isolation it is possible to make a
reasonable case against legalisation. But when the crime resulting
from the prohibition of the drugs business is considered, the
arguments are overwhelmingly the other way. The case for legalisation
was shown dramatically by the decline in murders in the US after
alcohol prohibition ended in 1933.

Yours faithfully, FRANCIS WILKINSON, (Chief Constable, Gwent Police,
1997-1999) 52 Hornsey Lane, Highgate. N6 5LU.
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