Dr Faizal Mohammed claims cannabis is laced with heroin

By Greg de Hoedt

According to the Liverpool Echo and Dr Faizal Mohammed, Liverpool black market drug dealers are lacing cannabis with heroin, methadone and diazepam in an attempt to get smokers addicted to cannabis and keep coming back. Cannabis is renowned for being a form of relaxation that is a less harmful and addictive to legally available drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes. 

Dr Faizal Mohammed claims cannabis in Liverpool is laced with heroin.

Dr Faizal Mohammed

Dr Faizal Mohammed, a specialist and clinical director for Mersey Care NHS Trust’s addiction service has suggested that most young people are coming for help with withdrawal symptoms of the laced cannabis than they are seeing for alcohol problems, although he provided no evidences for his claims.

In any case, this would indicate that younger people are more aware cannabis is a safer form of recreation than alcohol, as the medical literature from studies has shown; however due to the lack of control of the industry that produces cannabis and the market that sells it, they are left at risk by unscrupulous dealers looking to get repeat custom.

An ex-addict interviewed by the Liverpool Echo says people “wouldn’t know what they were smoking”.

Brian Conlon from the Merseyside Cannabis Supporters campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis in the UK said, “We were shocked at the lack of facts within this story and how much was just based on hearsay of an ex-addict, the press should be promoting both sides of the story.”

The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs chaired by prof David Nutt, also the newly appointed head of the European Brain Council, have published a chart listing drugs in their order of harm 1 being the most harmful and 20 being the lesser. While cannabis was rated at number 9, heroin, crack, tobacco and alcohol were placed between 1-4.

Any seasoned cannabis smoker would be aware if their cannabis was somehow tampered with or laced with other drugs. It begs to ask if the cannabis in question has been tested to confirm that these claims of cannabis laced with other drugs are true or not. Without testing in a lab and just anecdotal evidence at hand from unqualified consumers, there are good reasons not to believe the claims, as the article confuses matters and tries to find other excuses.

“If you are in the Mersey area please be careful if you are forced to buy your cannabis from the streets. Those with a previous history of addiction should be extra vigilant. If in doubt, put it out – or just don’t give these criminals looking for a quick penny the chance to put your health at risk in the first place.”

While this public health warning is being overlooked, much of the article tries to warn people of the dangers of cannabis and how addictive it has become due to people spraying harder drugs, glass, iron and sawdust (to add weight) it fails to draw upon the most obvious causation – prohibition.

During America’s prohibition of alcohol in the early 20th century there was a rise in bootleg liquor, often contaminated with poisons and harmful chemicals to increase the intoxicating effects of the drink. People went blind, had bleeding stomachs and even died at hands of the ruthless profiteering gangsters like Al Capone. They would never have been able to cause so much damage through the dangerous drug that they were peddling, i.e., alcohol, if it were not prohibited. They wouldn’t have gone around with their tommy guns and shoot down rival gangs moving in on their territory.  We are seeing the same ruthless tactics being employed by some criminal gangs in the UK with cannabis this time.

The Liverpool based so-called drug expert, Dr Faizal Mohammed  has also indicated that people are not only moving towards cannabis from alcohol, but the numbers of people using crack cocaine and heroin and coming to them for help is also declining. If this is the case then regulation would surely be a way to protect consumers and take the trade out of the hands of dangerous people that deserve to be behind bars.

When drugs are sold in an unregulated environment there is nothing to stop cannabis being sold next to crack or heroin; they all are prohibited substances and “controlled” by the Misuse of Drugs act and criminals looking to profit will happily take the risk to sell. Cannabis is a much easier drug to produce in the UK than crack or heroin, and also much cheaper. Growing cannabis takes three months minimum and for the set up cost of around £400 a profit of £10,000 could be made from a grow.

Merseyside Cannabis Supports members say they have “not heard of any cannabis laced with another drug, or even attempting to contaminate cannabis at all. Consumers are wising up to these old tricks.”

Mr Conlon added, “We at MCS believe both medical and recreational use of cannabis is a basic human right.

“The only thing that can be taken from this story is that we should have a regulated market and a safe place in which to consume cannabis.”

Cannabis sold in the legal regulated market to over 21’s in Colorado is tested in labs for purity and potency. It is grown under strict state regulations. The product is prepared safely and labelled for the consumer to be able to make a choice of what potency and what effect they want. A number of medical marijuana patients have stopped using drugs like heroin, crack, cocaine and benzodiazepines and their prescription substitute drugs, because of the safety of cannabis compared to prescribed alternatives such as methadone and subutex. They do not face the risk of being exposed to those substances through their cannabis or the way they obtain it. No other drugs, including alcohol are sold alongside cannabis. It has just been decided that $99million of the money raised from the tax of recreational cannabis sales is going to be put into substance education programs to help reduce the harms of drug use and abuse.

Reefer Madness Creeps In

Reefer Madness from Dr Faizal Mohammed

Reefer Madness

Despite the potential serious health problem facing cannabis users, if the claims are true, the article tries to focus on the harms of cannabis – not the drugs that are causing the addiction and which can be lethal, something cannabis is not capable of being.  Dr Failzal Mohammed wanted to highlight that there is more high potency cannabis (often referred to as skunk) now on the market, which he says “has more THC – the harmful element”.  While this “specialist” may be of the opinion that it is “harmful” the scientists at GW Pharmaceuticals have been using it to treat the debilitating spasm’s and tremors of MS patients. The medical pamphlet that comes with their drug, Sativex which can also be prescribed for neuropathic and chronic back pain issues, indicates that there are no withdrawal symptoms when patients cease using the drug. The only withdrawals cited by patients that have stopped receiving their Sativex cannabis medicine due to NHS Trust funding withdrawal are a return to the painful and life altering symptoms.

Incidentally, there is no mention of cannabis being laced with any other drug in the 2008 Cannabis Potency Study carried out by the Home Office with the help of GW Pharmaceuticals.

Dr Faizal Mohammed does in some ways appear to be unsure about his own claims though. In the quote from the Liverpool Echo article he says “There is a clear association between cannabis and psychosis (abnormal condition of the mind), maybe a causal link. Whether it can cause psychosis is not entirely clear, but there is some link with depression and anxiety.”

So in two lines cannabis has gone from being a “clear cause” of psychosis to “maybe” being the cause and then to, “it’s not entirely clear”.  Does Dr Faizal Mohammed know what he’s talking about or is he just looking for media attention?

Despite people choosing cannabis for its well-known and proven track record of safety they are unaware they are, if Dr Faizal Mohammed’s claims are true, they’re being exposed to drugs that have harmful and unpleasant side effects such as anxiety, depression and withdrawal from diazepam which will mimic Indica strains to make you sleepy and relaxed. Conversely crack would produce a much more amplified version of Sativa strains giving you a more cerebral and energetic effect.

The worrying thing is, prohibition allows children to become part of the industry, both buying and selling cannabis. They can buy cannabis without ID, which is required by law in places like the coffeeshops of Amsterdam, but they may be selling it too, with such little experience and without any education of exactly what cannabis the drug gangs are pushing. These are the same drug cowardly gangs that would rather a child got in trouble with the law instead of them.

A drug user interviewed by the Liverpool Echo said  “These kids of the new generation are in an even worse place than we were. Now they spray it with methadone, diazepam. They put fibre glass, sand and saw dust in to weight it. The diazepam gives you a buzz but when you stop taking it, you get mad panic attacks and it’s a scary place to be.”

“They’ll put heroin in it which shows how determined they are to keep people on the end of the line.”

While cannabis has never been proven to induce someone’s appetite for heroin or cocaine, a dealer selling all three may have learned a trick or two when it comes to enticing vulnerable or underage people into trying something else.  It is a dangerous game for the Government to play when they allow the drug market to be mixed. There aren’t many people that go and buy a bottle of wine from the off-license and then think, “you know what, I must pick up some heroin on the way home”. The same is true for cannabis under regulated models such as the Cannabis Social Clubs in Spain. Club members buy their cannabis from a safe source and know exactly what it is they are getting and you won’t find any other recreational or party drugs in their clubs, so there is no temptation or anyone to temp them.

Lloyd Eggs writing for the London Cannabis Club wrote: “There are more than enough people addicted to heroin and crack to sustain those dealers, and any drug dealer that thinks the way to create new crack addicts is by spraying cannabis with crack isn’t going to be in business for long.

“When a cocaine dealer cuts their product, they take expensive cocaine, and add something cheaper, like talcum powder, or powdered paracetamol. Now why would someone take a product that sells for about £10 per gram, and ‘cut’ it with a product that sells for about £50 per gram?”

If we could, as a society, have a more open and honest debate about cannabis, its effects and its market we would be able to reduce any potential harm dramatically. If people are worried about youth consuming cannabis, we should look at ways to restrict their access. If people are worried about contamination, which is only happening under prohibition then we should regulate the industry. The methods of going after street dealers, gangs and even full scale commercial cultivation with expensive and timely police investigations and raids has not been effective and is not any having an impact on the use rates at all, which the NHS trust suggests national statistics prove cannabis use is still increasing. All we are seeing is cannabis being made more harmful than nature intends it to be.

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12 Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading this, and I also agree that cannabis should be regulated under the goverment, if they are “claiming” everyday thats its killing people, why not legalise it. I also believe cannabis is a human right, its a natural source. Most other drugs are man made and can cause you some serious problems. Thanks for the read!

  2. I like how the headline says “EXPERTS” when its actually the opinion of an ex-junkie, since when is he the expert? They also said “experts”…plural? No.

    Here’s my email to Dr Mohammad yesterday…

    Hello,

    My name is Scott Kidd and I’m emailing you in regards to the article in the Liverpool Echo about the youth cannabis dependency. I have been doing some research on the subject of substance abuse for some years now and have a few questions. If you would be so kind to find the time and provide a response that would be greatly appreciated. The goal is to create better understanding of abuse. The views of a respected practitioner like yourself are invaluable and very influential.

    If I ask in this quick questionnaire for percentages it’s only a rough number, I’m sure you have a general idea of your work, thank you.

    1. In your professional opinion, which is more damaging physically and mentally, alcohol or tobacco?

    2. What percentage of your patients that get referred for cannabis addiction are under the age of 21?

    3. What percentage of your cannabis dependant patients have been referred to you by court order?

    4. In your professional opinion what is more damaging socially, alcohol or cannabis?

    5. Could you please list Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis in order of how PHYSICALLY addictive they are…

    6. Now please do the same but now in order of how MENTALLY addictive they are…

    7. What percentage of patients are being treated for alcohol addiction are under the age of 18?

    8. What percentage of patients referred for alcohol abuse manage to finish the program clean?

    9. What percentage of your patients referred for cannabis are addicted to it?

    10. What percentage of your patients referred for cannabis have had genetic family ties to psychosis or schizophrenia?

    11. Again, in your professional opinion, how many people have a bad reaction to alcohol? Be it depression, paranoia or anxiety. Eg 1 in 10? 2 in 10?

    12. What percentage of your patients are referred for prescription medicine addiction?

    I hope you can answer these to the best of your abilities. Working together to stamp out abuse is key. Understanding it is the first step to eradication.

    I thank you for your time sir, I will be awaiting your reply. If you do not want to take part in this questionnaire that’s perfectly alright, I only ask that you show me the same respect and state your reasoning for not partaking, thank you.

    Your sincerely,

    Scott Kidd (ACSC)

  3. I think this whole laced thing is nonsence…Skunk on the streets of liverpool is usually high grade from my experiance,those docks seem to bring the place good fortune…Cheese rules and people go for smell/taste and not strength as most if not all good weed that smells good and tastes good is good strength wise…99% of the skunk I have ever come across is strong enough for every one I know…and its expensive enough already so why would any one add other products that would make it even more expensive.This alleged laced weed would be sold in smaller deals than unlaced to make up for the added drug, so it would not sell.Let alone what ever you could add to say a 10bag ,it would show if its enough to be effective.The whole laced thing is BS IMO…If its laced its sold as laced ,thats the only way it would work…and no weed smoker would want that,if anything is true a smoker would choose size of bag ,and the unlaced will always be bigger.

  4. I,m afraid pathetic/exaggerated,and irrational scare stories like the ‘sensational’ one in the Echo will become normal. This is because the alcohol, tobacco,and pharmaceutical industries are running scared as cannabis regulation is happening around the world.

    They will fund and support scare stories,donate to political parties ,lobby politicians to convince them of the ‘terrible dangers of cannabis’.and the risk to their business interest.

    The risk to users of’their’ products will be conveniently forgotted in their multi million pound propaganda war against cannabis,and the decriminalisation of.Whoever the Sun supports at election time seems to win a general election – will the Sun support reform of the cannabis laws in Britain?

    The campaign groups need to fight back. I do know what the cost would be,or what funding the campaign groups have to organise a national opinion poll regarding medicinal, and recreational cannabis being legalised in this country. I would donate to such a poll,and maybe others would.

    There will always be a minority of users who experience a problem with cannabis,as with any other substance including food – it’s the nature of life,but demonization of any substance due to problems experienced by a minority is completely out of context.

  5. these lies need to stop being pumped out. also, why are all the doctors involved in british news stories relating to cannabis asian? do these people accept payments from who knows to pump out this bullshite into the mainstream?

  6. This is a great story to have made an example out of, it is o ridiculous how the media can put out story’s like this with no regard to the publics opinion whatsoever and continue to cycle onward with it. From seeing it go from class D upto class B is an outrage, I have been at war with my country peacefully for over 10 years without making a single aggressive move, because they chose to take me there and every other citizen to war should they need to indulge into one of the best antiinflammitory medecines available in natural form, it is a damn old write oppressing regime and Im fed up of having to walk into the wilderness just so I can get a bit of peace and quiet, bring on the coffeeshops and private social clubs. But I must admit I still feel at odds between the gov and prime legalization activists, for example why make it sound outrageously profitable like you mentioned saying you can get a kit for 400 pounds and make upto 10 thousand pounds, are you trying to point suspicion at your target audience get your mind right. With a kit for 400 hundred pounds you most probably would make between minus a few hundred pounds on bills ect. if you were ill experienced or unlucky upto maybe a thousand or two thousand pounds if you were a complete pro, its a poor mans game, there is no way on earth you will equate any mass profits unto you detriment, unless you most probably pay off the law. Cheerio.

  7. Yes yes, can I come with a true opinion that escapes the moderation of fascism on both sides of the argument? That is unknown at this stage, hope for the best. I hope the moderation is not getting like clear reform was, but I have some regard for Peter in a weird way tho do not support his individual actions or intentions. I have a problem with media on both sides of the argument, how they vastly overprice the value of cannabis if the max you get is like 1000 pounds they try an say its worth 10000 pounds or something ridiculous, its like self corruption, until they can get over this I have no trust for anyone really, and although fb social clubs may seem like a great idea deeming yourself a user seems like self incrimination, and the way sites are flooded with propaganda is an off put even before there was sign of any of small talk from the public, they dont feel free to be themselves. There is still a better way. After being a war veteran for over 10 years because I use medically, is soul destroying. After being banned from driving after meeting zero tolerance, and loosing most friends due to immigration because of the establishments mind set is a damn shame, I have to walk on my own around gangs of foreign youths that I regard respectfully although not knowing there intentions is shamefully limp I am potential mince meat and dont walk around armed to the teeth. We still need some work, if not just for our own survival, us normal folk are getting crusifyed by these types of people.

  8. That article is a load of reefer madness, doctors sit too comfy once they have got there qualifications an may not be off any use at all, an that’s why we all need a good old smoke to recognize the real from the fake if it helps sometimes. I would like to make the point of mentioning why are the media figures always hyped up so for instance say like he mentioned 10g’s well really its like 1g’s worth, if your insanely lucky. This amounts to nothing but wrongful peridition and further food towards prohibition, please get it right in future.

  9. No need to mix other drugs with cannabis to make it addictive – the users do that themselves when they roll a joint with tobacco in it ( still a common practice in Britain ). Add to this the fact that people often don’t smoke cigarettes as well so they roll a ‘joint’ to get that satisfaction for tobacco addiction they have. There is little doubt that UK ‘cannabis’ ( a spliff containing tobacco ) is addictive and harmful to the user’s health.
    I think the mixture may be more addictive than cigarettes alone since the cannabis high gives the brain a reward beyond just relief from tobacco cravings. Also mixture smokers tend to smoke without a filter and modern tobacco is full of chemicals (and is probably more dangerous than it needs to be). We desperately need some truth in UK and stop assuming the substance we are talking about is the same thing as in the US since often it is not !

  10. I am writing this message out of embrace for Norml, they have adjusted my perception of there side of the industry, I was under the impression my comment would moderated and excluded because of the over sensational hype of the media, fouling on peoples human rights and having a compulsive need for complete control of folks thoughts and seeming love of punishment through there version of a fake justice system, which unfortnately really exists. Of course you only leave me in a zone where I have defend my point through common word, but fair enough, thinking of all the money I have to spend throughout the year not out of choice or out of choice, I will do my best to make a contribution or join up as a member some time, you win my support,cheers.

  11. I live in Liverpool Ive had contaminated weed, ive been smoking for 18 years pretty much everyday, so im not a nieve idiot, the stuff ive had a ew times has had Iron filings in it, not ony that but it gave me severe panick attacks !

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