Discuss: “Cannabis is no more harmful than tobacco or alcohol and should, therefore, be legalised.”
There has recently been much debate in the media about the decriminalisation of cannabis, both for recreational and medicinal use. This topic has proved controversial especially in political circles. Drawing on evidence from recent press reports, research on the web and recent publications, this essay will assess the evidence of how harmful cannabis really is.
In 1971 Cannabis was reclassified by parliament and became a schedule 1 drug. This means that it was viewed as having no medicinal value. In 2002, Cannabis was reclassified again as a Class C drug meaning that it is seen as less harmful in comparison to other drugs such as Cocaine. This is reflected in the way offenders are processed by the criminal justice system, having relatively lenient sentences or cautions. These changes in the law reflect changing public perceptions and increased tolerance of soft drug use contributing to the public pressure to legalise cannabis.
Several studies have indicated that cannabis use may be beneficial for certain medical conditions. Teeson et al (2002) argue that cannabis use is helpful for of Multiple Sclerosis, Tourettes Syndrome, epilepsy and HIV related illnesses.
Barton (2003) disputes the idea that cannabis use causes dependency and this is one argument that opponents of the legalization of cannabis forward. Barton suggests that,
“We can only assume that for the vast majority of
drug users their drug use is occasional and spasmodic,
or that drugs prove pretty well harmless to most
However, as mentioned previously this is a controversial area. These theorists broadly support the notion that cannabis is no more harmful than tobacco or alcohol and should perhaps be legalised. Furthermore Teeson et al (2002) indicates out that like cannabis use...