By Clark French and Deej Sullivan
Warrington Borough Council have recently sent a shock wave through the cannabis movement. What did they do that was so controversial I hear you ask? Well I’ll tell you what they did; and explain just why this was extremely dangerous and irresponsible.
Warrington Borough Council in their infinite wisdom have released a new campaign called “its not just a joint”.
Their website says -
“Did you know that cannabis can be stronger than heroin and cannabis related crime is the most common drug related crime in Warrington?
It can also cause lung cancer, paranoia, panic attacks, memory problems, slow thinking and hallucinations.
For all these reasons and more, the council’s Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) is launching the ‘it’s not just a joint’ campaign this summer to try to reduce cannabis use and make people aware of the dangers.
Anyone who needs help should contact CRI Pathways to Recovery, who deliver the services, for free and confidential advice and information”
The council have also irresponsibly released a poster for the campaign which again states that cannabis is now stronger then Heroin. Yes that’s right you did hear correctly; according to the ‘brains’ behind the campaign at Warrington council, Heroin is now a safer alternative to cannabis.
The statement is completely unsupported by any scientific evidence and the council are yet to issue any comments regarding the poster after being asked to provide evidence of their claims by the public on their Facebook page. I feel that the best evidence to counter their claims comes from the British Medical Journal, where drug harms were rated and as you can see, cannabis clearly is at the bottom of the scale while Heroin is at the top.
As well as this there is the simple fact that, unlike Heroin (note: not morphine), cannabis has literally hundreds of recognised medicinal uses and is non-toxic. Nobody has ever overdosed on cannabis, it simply isn’t possible. In contrast, according to Drug Scope, between the year 2000 and 2004 4,976 people died as a result of opiate (Heroin, morphine and methadone) use in England and Wales. Clearly by any recognised and accepted measure cannabis is a far safer substance than Heroin; to claim the opposite is to send a dangerous, not to mention untrue, message to young and vulnerable people.
The other claim made by Warrington Council was that ‘cannabis related crime is the most common drug related crime in Warrington’. Although this simple statement is probably quite true, it really doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. A quick look through the website of the Warrington Guardian finds it littered with stories of people being arrested for small grows and simple possession, ‘crimes’ that have no victim, and are only serving as a drain on police time and resources. It is worth noting that in not one of these stories did anyone come to any harm, whereas even when searching for cannabis stories in the area, I came across the story of a 23 month old child who died as the result of a Heroin overdose. Warrington Council really need to ask themselves whether telling people that Heroin is no stronger than cannabis is really in the best interests of the people they claim to represent.
There is a silver lining to this cloud however and that is the sheer number of people who have been outraged enough to post on their Facebook page asking why the council chose to lie in such a harmful way.
Some of the comments on their Facebook page (which have since been removed):
“This is sheer nonsense that you have put out, extremely damaging. You have told people that heroin is safer than cannabis, and this is grossly untrue. Never mind a formal response on facebook, the person that gave the OK for this ill informed piece of literature to be released should either resign or should be sacked. I am disgusted that you are wasting our tax money like this in a time of recession. If you think drugs are bad, then maybe you should start with the most damaging drugs which are Crack, Heroin, Alcohol, and Tobacco (Alcohol and tobacco are the most dangerous, due to the prevalence of their use)”
“Warrington council, I have a suggestion. No need to pay a team to design these posters. Just use the ‘reefer madness’ propaganda posters, put them up in bus stops and be done with it.”
“so where do you want us to start?????the lies about heroin???the lies about lung cancer??”
We eagerly await the official response to their claims, in the mean time please feel free to check out and comment on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/warringtonbc
Clark French is an MS patient and founding member of NORML UK. You can read more by him including articles and strain reviews on his blog - www.clarkfrench.wordpress.com. Deej Sullivan is a member of NORML UK and the Devon Cannabis Club.