LEGALISING cannabis will fuel violent conflict in our towns and turn a new generation of people on to hard drugs, experts warn.
A cross-party group of MPs is calling for the UK to follow Canada and make dope available on the high street for recreational use.
But British drug counsellor Seven Graham has seen the damage that easily available cannabis can cause after moving to Los Angeles, where recreational marijuana sale is legal.
Seven tells The Sun on Sunday: “If you think knife crime is bad now, it could get worse if marijuana is legalised.
“Legal cannabis does not get rid of the dealers, it normalises drug use and makes the problem worse.
“In America, the black market in weed has boomed. Soon they want new, cheaper and more potent varieties that are not available from licensed sellers, and competition to supply it is still fierce.
“Legalisation has done nothing to solve gang violence. You would have to be mad to legalise cannabis in Britain.”
Experts spoke out after a group of MPs returned from Canada — the first wealthy G7 country to legalise recreational cannabis use — and called for it to be legal here within five years.
Legal cannabis does not get rid of the dealers, it normalises drug use and makes the problem worse.
Labour’s David Lammy, Tory Jonathan Djanogly and Lib Dem Sir Norman Lamb argue that criminalising its use forces law-abiding people into contact with street dealers.
Tottenham MP Lammy says: “I want the market legalised, regulated and taken away from crime gangs. For young people not to be criminalised by use and properly educated.
‘MORE PEOPLE WILL BE TEMPTED TO TRY IT’
“I want to see the strength of the stuff reduced, labelled and properly organised.”
Countries from Holland to Uruguay have either decriminalised or legalised cannabis use.
The trend often starts when a government allows it to be made available for medicinal use, as is happening with cannabis oil in Britain now.
This week PM Boris Johnson welcomed pro-cannabis researcher Blair Gibbs into the heart of Downing Street when he made him an adviser.
Danny Kruger, brought in as the PM’s political secretary, has also called for an end to the prohibition of the drug.
Yet hard drug use rocketed in Holland after marijuana was decriminalised.
Former Met detective chief inspector Mick Neville says: “Cannabis is a gateway drug, and letting shops sell it will tempt more people to smoke it.
“Some will get addicted and move on to other substances. Others will go straight to hard drugs because cannabis is legal and no longer ‘cool’.
“Drug takers are thrill seekers, and once their tolerance for one drug goes up they will start looking around for a new thrill, like cocaine.
“Cocaine use is one of the biggest causes of knife crime in the UK.”
Critics have pointed out that the MPs’ Canada trip was part-sponsored by the North American cannabis company MPX, which is poised to make a fortune if commercial sale is given the go-ahead in the UK.
In fact, big corporations have already been investing millions of dollars in lobbying campaigns here, according to campaigners.
Kevin Sabet, president of Canada’s Smart Approaches to Marijuana, says: “I’m very worried about the commercialisation of cannabis.
Drug takers are thrill seekers, and once their tolerance for one drug goes up they will start looking around for a new thrill, like cocaine.
“I don’t care if an adult wants to smoke a joint in their home, but this is about the industrialisation of cannabis.
“These companies do not tell the truth about the damage it does. They get the best lobbyists in town to talk to politicians, they lower the price as much as possible and sell and promote the drug to young people.”
Alarmingly, an extra one per cent of Canada’s youth has given cannabis a try since legalisation, but it has done little to stifle the black market.
Statistics show 79 per cent of drug users continue to go to dealers for cheaper, more potent weed.
Dan Malleck, associate professor of health sciences at Brock University, Ontario, explains: “Cannabis is legal in Canada but it’s hard to get.
"That has made the illegal market more legitimate, when one of the key goals was to get it out of the hands of the illegal sellers.”
'PARANOIA AND PSYCHOSIS'
Marijuana use is already rising in the UK despite it still being categorised as a Class B substance that, in theory, should land you in jail.
Dr Peter Bach, a healthcare expert, says: “Marijuana causes paranoia and psychosis. Paranoia and psychosis cause violence.”
Mary Brett, a trustee of the Cannabis Skunk Sense charity, adds: “Wherever marijuana has been legalised usage has gone up and that is particularly damaging for children, as their brains are still developing.
"The THC in weed that gets a person high also causes brain damage. This particularly affects the part of the brain that handles learning and memory.
“It can cause psychosis and schizophrenia. Another thing is that cannabis causes violence. The effects can be horrendous, but the politicians are not listening to people like me.”
'Wards of zombie kids'
PENSIONER Janie Hamilton had just returned from the grave of her son James, where she was marking the four-year anniversary of his death, when she heard the news that MPs were calling for weed to be legalised.
The 36-year-old was suffering from marijuana-induced schizophrenia that led him to refuse treatment for testicular cancer.
Janie, 67, from North Dorset, says: “I cannot bear to even read about legalising marijuana as the thought of it makes my heart sink.
“When are the politicians finally going to understand the damage it can cause?
“Cannabis stole my dear son from me.
“It causes depression and can trigger mental health issues that are irreversible. James was always a lovely boy, but cannabis changed him.
“Legalising the drug will not stop the dealers – and it will cause more people to develop psychosis.
“The voices users hear in their heads never tell them to go and have a nice holiday. They tell them to do something horrible.
“How many times do we read about a crime then discover that the person who committed it was a cannabis user? It happens all the time.
“I wish these politicians could visit the mental health wards I have, where children are staggering around like zombies because they smoked weed.
“That might make them finally wake up to the reality.”
Addiction here is rising yet, since 2013, councils across England have cut substance misuse treatment service budgets by £135million.
Eytan Alexander, managing director of addiction treatment firm UKAT, says: “We are already treating people hooked on cannabis and legitimising its use could create a new generation of addicts.
“We don’t know what the long-term effects of smoking potent marijuana will be.”
- For support, see drugfam.co.uk or lettingthelightin.com/.