Cannabis. Just cannabis. These were the words of Mohamed Mire explaining his brother Muhaydin’s terror attack at Leytonstone tube station.
He knew only too well what lay behind his brother’s attack – delusions, psychosis and paranoia triggered by cannabis use. The family had wanted Mire committed under the Mental Health Act.
Mohamed recounted his brother’s background story to Jon Snow on Channel Four News – a familiar one to psychiatrists like Professor Robin Murray, whose research on the link between cannabis and psychosis leads the field.
“He was a good boy and he loved football. As far as I know he loved education, he wanted to be a computer scientist. It didn’t work out for him. He got in with the wrong people”. He also smoked cannabis.
“It give him mental problem. Bit paranoia. He was diagnosed by a doctor and treated in 2007 for paranoia.
“He had mental issues. Mental problem. He was in hospital for three months in 2007.
“He was working as an Uber driver and then he got back into the same thing (drugs) and went a bit crazy. Started calling me and talking funny, funny…
“Not radical, it’s a bit like jumping around talking nonsense and sort of like talking, saying he’s seeing demons and stuff, people following him. Bit of paranoia.”
Mohamed’s family tried calling the local authority who would not help them for the reason that, ‘he’s no harm to people and he’s no harm to himself’. Then Mohamed recounted: “I talked to the police and they came and looked at him and that was 22 October.”
They looked at him. That’s all. Nothing else. Well done, Mr Plod.
The debate about cannabis is over. No serious politician or commentator today can gainsay the mountain of evidence that led the American College of Pediatricians last week to make this statement about the grave dangers of this drug, not least its association with psychosis, and to determine that it must be kept illegal.
Only those in persistent denial can – like Sarah Dunant, whose torpidity I remarked on last week, a woman whose head remains firmly in the sand, and happily oblivious of cannabis’s known association with 24 per cent of new cases of psychosis.
And, it now it transpires, she has been joined by the police.
The Metropolitan Police have yet to get it. According to The Daily Telegraph, they remain quite impervious to their failure to identify the risk posed by Mire.
“There was no mention of radicalisation,” they told the Telegraph in a confident statement of self-justification. That’s all right then. No mention that they might now review their approach as a result of this slip up and start to take the link between cannabis, psychosis and violence seriously; no mention that they needed a more proactive and preventive approach to cannabis use, especially by young males.
How many times I wonder was Michael Adebowale, the deranged killer of Lee Rigby, ‘looked at’ by the police in similar circumstances? After Adebowale’s arrest, psychosis was identified as the root of his psychological problems. These were exacerbated, the psychiatrists who examined him said, by his heavy smoking of skunk cannabis.
The Boston bombers turned out to be cannabis smokers too. In fact, the cases of terror since 9/11 where drugs and particularly cannabis have not been in some way involved are the exception rather than the rule.
It is startling that the police have not yet grasped the fact that drug use as much as ideology triggers violence – a cocktail of the two being particularly potent.
Emerging evidence from Paris confirmed what was already known. Firstly, that most so-called Islamic State (Isis) suicide bombers receive doses of narcotics before carrying out their suicide attacks. How else could they? It stands to reason. Killing someone is hardly easy unless you are already delusional.
Secondly, that too often cannabis is a gateway to a horrific culture of terror as well as to psychosis and addiction.
This emerged in the backgrounds of the Kouachi brothers behind the Charlie Hebdo attack of January this year. They had what the Daily Mail described as a depressingly familiar background. One of them, Cherif described himself as an ‘occasional Muslim’ who smoked cannabis, drank and dealt drugs.
Similarly the Comptoir Voltaire bomber Ibrahim Abdeslam was a jobless layabout who smoked cannabis ‘all day every day’, who never went to the mosque and had spent time in prison, his former wife revealed.
During their ill-fated two-year marriage she told of how he did just one day of work, often smoking three or four joints a day: “His favourite activities were smoking weed and sleeping. He often slept during the day. The number of joints that he smoked was alarming”.
Whether he was already paranoid and psychotic we may never know.
Whether London or Paris, this is the cannabis drug culture that the authorities ignore. As newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens correctly keeps reminding us, the ‘war’ on drugs, particularly cannabis, has been and is bogus.
Ever since the original framing of the Misuse of Drugs Act in the early 1970s, establishment attitudes to the drug have been deliberately casual. To the metrosexual liberal elite dope smoking is socially acceptable, an attitude that has insinuated itself into school drugs education system where official advice still stresses not prevention but teaching children to make informed choices in order to reduce the harms of their believed to be inevitable drug use.
Having sown the wind we are reaping the whirlwind. This is what the Leytonstone terror attack so dramatically encapsulates.
The cannabis public health time bomb has already detonated. The nation’s secure psychiatric units bursting to the seams with psychotic young men is evidence of that. So is the number of the similarly psychotic young men cared for, so-called, in the community. What this all too often means is being on the streets on anti-psychotic medication. continuing to smoke dope and becoming ever more delusional to another point of crisis. It is not until they actively harm someone that they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The wards are too full already.
This, along with the prevalence of a poisonous ideology, as Mr Cameron has so rightly described it, is the trigger of a public safety time bomb we are sitting on.
That is why the Government needs to get just as serious about a ‘Prevent’ duty strategy for children from cannabis use as they are about preventing children’s radicalisation. They cannot do the second without facing the first. The sooner they do so, the safer and saner we will all be.
One or two commentators on this post have made questionable claims about the impact of cannabis legalisation in Colorado. Readers are entitled to the facts and will be able to make their own minds up by visiting these links:
- Traffic deaths: A 32 per cent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in just one year
- Marijuana use by children: Colorado youth usage (ages 12 to 17) ranks 56 per cent higher than the national average
- Hospitalisations: A 38 per cent increase in the number of marijuana-related hospitalisations
- More drug trafficking: The yearly average interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana increased another 34 per cent
Furthermore, an August 2015 poll revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly in the circumstances, that Coloradans’ support for the law has begun to fall and a that by a small majority, they would now oppose the amendment.