In Britain, the age at first use of cannabis has continued to fall because of government policy. Britain now has more children using cannabis at a younger age than almost anywhere else in the world.
Present policy was not created to protect children, the idea was to prevent adults using cannabis. What has happened over the past 40 years is that prohibition has failed to prevent widespread use and an uncontrolled criminal market has developed to supply cannabis to millions of consumers. The cannabis supply industry is huge, it reaches into every section of society from small village to big city, from poor communities to the super rich.
Because the cannabis supply industry is illegal it is totally unregulated and uncontrolled. The only requirement needed to become a dealer is the ability to be unaccountable. As a result, the only ID needed to buy cannabis is a £20 note so it was inevitable that cannabis use would spill over to children.
Before cannabis was prohibited, there was no problem with underage use. Now it is becoming increasingly commonplace as children are attracted by the allure of forbidden fruit and unscrupulous dealers target the most vulnerable.
Concerned about this, the government is desperately trying to undo the damage it has caused with advertising campaigns such as "Talk to Frank" and safeguarding legislation for schools, but they're tinkering around the edges - what needs to be done is to address the root cause of the problem; the uncontrolled nature of the illegal cannabis supply industry.
There is an historical precedent. This is a lesson that we should have already learned. In 1920/30s America one of the disastrous effects of alcohol prohibition was the involvement of children with the trade, so much so that slogans used to campaign against it included "Save our children" and "Protect our youth, stamp out prohibition".
Peter Reynolds said:
"Prohibition is a deeply immoral and dangerous policy which has abandoned our children to street dealers and organised crime. It is the direct responsibility of successive home secretaries, both Tory and Labour, that children now find it easier to obtain cannabis than cigarettes or alcohol. All the experts now agree that it is only children who are in any significant danger from cannabis use. We must grasp this nettle, take responsibility and regulate the supply of cannabis properly. To fail to do so is to let our children down and to support organised crime. We cannot stop the demand for cannabis. What we can do is protect children far more effectively"
Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) is a political party registered with the Electoral Commission under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) to promote the cause of cannabis law reform, with the aim of replacing the anarchic mess of prohibition with a framework of real legal control which would allow proper control of the trade, ensure proper regulation of the product in terms of strength and purity and provide proper protection for vulnerable people such as children.
If you would like more information on this topic or an other aspect of the work of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), or to arrange an interview with Peter Reynolds please contact him on 07880 872022 firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the CLEAR Press agent Derek Williams 07941 238908 email@example.com
Cannabis Law Reform, PO Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, Surrey RH1 9BN United Kingdom