Teen Suicide: Britain’s Cannabis Policy More Harmful Than Drug

By Greg de Hoedt

A 17 Year old Head Boy and England under 19 Lacrosse international who was summoned to court for 50p worth of cannabis – has committed suicide after fearing that it would block his chances of working in America. 

EDWARD THORNBER - killed himself over 50p cannabis summons

Edward Thornber

Edward Thornber, 17 was on holiday with his friends in Newquay in 2011 when he was stopped by police and found to be in possession of 50p worth of cannabis. For those unaware of just how little this is look at your little finger nail and then think smaller. It was the second time he had been stopped under the same circumstances. Read the news report here.

Britain’s drug laws are not working and this is evidence that needs to been seen.

Currently cannabis is available to anyone and everyone that has a note with the Queens face on it. There are no restrictions on age because the local dealer doesn’t want to stamp out a huge part of their customer base. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 allows children and teenagers to freely buy cannabis and with absolutely no quality control or guidance. Surely this is a rather dangerous policy especially when you take into consideration that those selling to others underage are probably involved with organised crime. They just want the money. We allow for them to sell to our children by asking for enforcement of prohibition.

Drug policy reformers have long called for the regulation of cannabis sales which would remove it from a criminal market and allow age restrictions and ID checks to be implemented as we do with other recreational and medicinal drugs. Edward was not yet 18 but he was still able to get hold of cannabis. A fledging lacrosse athlete with international ambitions and the Head boy of his school, cannabis can’t have been causing him too many problems. Yet, upon being caught by the overreaching arm of the law his life took a dramatic and very cruel twist.

America takes the trophy for most destructive drug policy in the west. They imprison 25% of the world’s prison population, most are in for a drug related offence and the majority of those are for cannabis. They are so strict with their drugs policy that they will not allow anyone into the “land of the free” if they have a criminal record for drugs – including a court summons for 50p worth of cannabis if the court could be bothered to convict him of such a “crime”.

The prospect of not being able to fulfil the dream of becoming a lacrosse coach in America was too much for young Edward to bear. He hid the fact that he had been caught from his parents probably because he did not want to upset, anger or disappoint them – an understandable reaction for a teenager in trouble.

Without any support, guidance or reassurance Edward Thornber took his own life by hanging himself. Facing the potential stigma and humiliation of becoming a drug criminal that would change the course of his life from the one he had been preparing himself for ultimately affected his state of mind. This is a tragic example of how the laws policing people over cannabis are far more harmful than cannabis itself.

Another Perspective

Lets just take a look though at what might have happened had Edward not ended his life prematurely. As he was only 17 he would not have had the experience and insight to take things into perspective.

If his case went to court and the Judge was cruel enough to find him guilty over 50p worth of cannabis he would have got a criminal record. In this case no one would have been protected and a young boy with some marvellous life prospects would have had his future shattered. Employers and those considering him for further education would have looked him at differently, and he would probably have never been allowed into America. He may even have been kicked off of the England national lacrosse team for taking a drug.

If drug laws are enforced to protect people then who has been protected here and can the state claim this as justice? Cannabis wasn’t affecting his life and the only thing that will now is his criminal record. Where is the logic in this? There is none and this is happening to hundreds of thousands of youths every year in Britain for minor possession charges. This is a serious violation of human and civil rights.

Of course another scenario could have been that the Judge saw the court summons and decided that it was a complete and utter waste of his and the courts time and resources, that dealing with cases of rape, murder, burglary and banking fraud are much more important and serious than a 17 year old with 50p worth of cannabis. If this was the case then Edward ending his life so early would have been even more so in vein.

The worst thing about this whole tragedy is that no court summons would have been issued had the officer filing the paperwork put it in a different coloured file.

david cameronDo police officers need better training in the office or does David “Britains drug policy is working” Cameron need to listen to the substantial and overwhelming stack of evidence presented to him in the last 2 years? A host of international politicians, businessmen and statisticians including the MPs Home Affairs Select Committee, UK Drug Policy Consortium, Global Commission on Drugs Policy, 53% of the public and over half of Tories that show there is a safer, more effective and humane way to deal with drugs that doesn’t criminalise or discriminate.

David Cameron as a school boy was caught with cannabis whilst at Eton, had he been dealt with in the same way as Edward via the police he might not hold such a privilaged possition today – one that allows him to restore a broken and unfair system that he has managed to slip through the net of yet refuses to on every occassion presented.

Politicians and prohibitionists that currently stand under David Cameron and his disgusting attitude towards drug policy when this is the outcome have Edward Thornbers death on their conscience.

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  1. a bloody shame 🙁 r.i.p

    I say Cameron should be kicked out of office because he doesn’t represent the people like he should !

      • Duly elected by 34% on a turnout of 61%. Only 18% of registered electors voted for Cameron. Democracy in Britain is an illusion; usually the only people who believe Britain is democratic are supporters of the main political parties who benefit from the unfair electoral system in the UK.

        I’m one of the 82% of registered voters who didn’t vote for Cameron – 82% is quite a bit higher than 18%, so I agree will ziol420, Cameron should be kicked out of office, because he doesn’t represent the people like he should, yet this will not happen, since we don’t actually have that democracy Joe talks of.

  2. We are used to seeing this law being applied stupidly every day so it’s hardly surprising the judge missed it. I have seen kids from care homes totally get blown away in YOUTH courts for stealing A TUBE OF TOOTHPASTE ArrgrrH! Pnk files, grey files, these excuses are all wrong, justice went AWOL a long time ago and that’s before we get to the drug use laws.

    When you say “The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 allows children and teenagers to freely buy cannabis and with absolutely no quality control or guidance.” I think that would be better framed in terms of the administrative policy adopted under that Act because the Act is specifically drafted to target organised crime linked to the causing of social harms linked to drug misuse.

    It’s usually said or implied that the benefit would be how the criminal market driven by organised crime would become disinterested in the market (as when ‘it’s legal’ then free-enterprise will survive as well as community enterprises dispacing that market sector of weed supply), but do teenagers only come by weed from ‘irresponsible sources’?

    So what rights do persons under 18 have under your proposals in this regard? The ‘moral’ issue avoided by the ‘responsible retailing’ regulation demand; the question of what restrictions are appropriate for persons under the age of consent whatever that is.

  3. Perfectly written Greg, i know exactly how the poor young lad felt. As a country we really do need to change our policies on cannabis, sooner rather than later as well.

  4. When they have driven a few more people to suicide they wil fund a study to show
    that cannabis makes you depressed and suicidal, just so they can sweep the
    truth under the carpet. Just like they tried to with the funding of the
    Keel report and psychosis; odd that happened just when they started using skunk
    to create Sativex. Only that report backfired and proved that there was
    no correlation between the two and they buried it as an ‘academics only’
    available paper that everyone else couldn’t access.

    This country is run by liars, who care nothing for people or truth! It’s all
    about the money, the money they make from keeping it illegal!!

  5. My god what kind of sick/ evil people taking order of our lives…..what are they?…cannabis is a plant for gods sake!… Then we can take the government/ companys to court for for substance/ drugs we take/use for medicines/foods which kills people. That chap is in a better place…outa this world or wat it’s worth. Rip.

  6. Canon 3945
    Marijuana, also known as Cannabis is the most sacred plant of all
    plants for the Scythians and peoples of Southern Mongolia, their
    subsequent rise to power and deliberately outlaw use of Cannabis extends
    to most of the world, excluding at the start of the 21st Century
    certain Arabian nations and in particular a centre of cultural
    significance for them called Amsterdam.
    Canon 3946
    the 20th Century, governments throughout the world have largely
    deprived their populations of cheap naturally grown pain killers in
    preference to supporting global commercial cartels of synthetic pain
    killers, often with numerous side effects. This global imbalance has
    contributed to the deliberate corruption and breakdown of societies as
    well as law and order across the world.
    Canon 3947
    Any statute that prevents naturally grown Sacred Drugs to be produced in preference to inferior
    synthetic drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies is an offense
    against all civilization and all cultures and is immediately null and
    Canon 3948
    Any leader of any Religion or Cult that seeks to maintain the lie of alleging naturally grown Sacred Drugs are immoral in preference to synthetic and inferior
    varieties automatically consents, agrees and concedes they are without
    any moral authority, spiritual authority and are a willing heretic
    against the history of all faiths.

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