Pubdate: Sun, 22 Aug 1999
Date: 08/22/1999
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Author: William Garland
Note: headline by MAP

Approaching my thirtieth anniversary as a daily dope-smoker, I am one
of many from the hippie generation to have retained my preference for
this life-enhancing herb over all other forms of self-administered
stimulus, and am convinced that it has enabled me to avoid the
slippery slope into alcohol-dependency that characterises this
back-to-front society of ours.

Recently detained by Wiltshire police after my first arrest in this
country for possession of a small amount of hash, I was visited by the
(Asian) police doctor who chatted to me for three minutes, declined to
examine me or even take my pulse, and pronounced 'You look pretty well
on it.' Which I do.

So I am one of thousands of long-term users who can be accessed to
undermine the wearisome traditional politicians' response to repeated
calls for the decriminalisation, if not the full legalisation, of
cannabis: that there is 'no medical research' to justify such
liberalism. Official research has long been blocked yet you have only
to ask and examine dope-smokers of all ages to discover exactly how
beneficial or deleterious it really is. Compare us with daily boozers
of similar longevity, and the results will show unanswerable proof of
dope's superiority.

Two-and-a-half cheers, then, for Charles Kennedy, who has immediately
proved what we have all suspected for years: that somehow a fully
rounded human being has risen to political prominence in this
benighted country. The other half-cheer will be earned when he has
sampled the stuff for himself. I'm off for my first puff of the day.
Keep banging the drum. Name and address supplied

Twenty years ago, I allowed myself to be seduced by the drugs culture
and experimented with cannabis. As I did not smoke, I ate the drug
instead. The experience was a nightmare with terrifying
hallucinations. I also suffered flashbacks months later, which
eventually caused a mental breakdown. It took years to recover from
this, costing me a place at college and hindering severely my then
future job prospects.

So it was with great sadness, that I read the clarion calls in The
Observer (Comment, last week), for the decriminalisation of this drug.
As for Charles Kennedy's stance on this issue, may I just say that as
a voter in a Con/Lib Dem marginal seat, he is not helping to win my
vote at the next general election.

William Garland