Sunday, October 25, 2020
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Lucy Dawe: Nigel, lay off drugs and stick to your booze and fags

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I was delighted to hear that Nigel Farage has never taken drugs. Few of his more conventional political rivals could claim that. I was pleased too to hear he hated them. I was dismayed however to find that he wishes them on other people.

If he thinks decriminalisation will solve the drug problem he is not just naive but quite, quite wrong. As I wrote in my blog last week, it could only make matters worse. Even the liberal former  Metropolitan police chief, Sir Iain Blair agrees with me; it would, he has said, leave young people at the mercy of street dealers with no line of defence. That’s what happened with the Brixton experiment. It led to greater drug use of all classes and an upsurge in emergency hospital admissions

Nigel Farage is mistaken too if he thinks that Portugal is a good example for us to follow – since they decriminalised personal possession school age drug use has doubled, so too has the adult population’s use of hard drugs.  He should be the last person to fall for the Lib Dem Party’s spin on that data. What he should realise that just one war is being waged – by the liberals against drug policy. He has fallen victim to it.

What he should be doing is talking to people defending drug controls not those trying to dismantle them further.

He should be talking to parents like myself and Susan Bedack. For ours is a lonely fight. It is against the liberalising tendency that has resulted in official government drugs education literature effectively contradicting our drug laws. Mr Farage would not have to look too hard to see that the government’s message to children which,  far from deterring them from taking drugs, actively encourages them to make something called ‘informed choice’. The trouble is the official advice is scientifically misinformed.

This misinformation is the reason why several years ago a small group of parents, desperate for help and support and finding nothing available, set up a support and information website for everyone whose lives have been affected by the cannabis and skunk use of a family member. We called it CanSS. We made it our mission to put in place proper drug prevention education, both for children and for their parents, so that other families would not suffer the horrendous grief that comes from watching their child’s life, health and mental well-being devastated by cannabis use.

Today CanSS provides the administration for the All Party Parliamentary Group (Cannabis and Children) which, under the Chairmanship of Charles Walker, MP, tries to inform Government of the dangers of cannabis, particularly when used by young people whose developing brains are still so vulnerable. We also lobby for the reform of drug prevention education in our schools.

“Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances,”Article 33 – The Convention on the Rights of the Child states.

Yet despite this, British drug education policy is still based on a “harm reduction” (HR) philosophy. This assumes that children want to and will take drugs, therefore the rational response is to provide them with the knowledge from which to make an “informed choice” – even at the ridiculously tender age of seven.

We have watched with dismay and concern as calls for decriminalisation and even legalisation of some drugs, particularly cannabis, get ever louder. We know that would be a disaster. Drugs are illegal because they are dangerous, not dangerous because they are illegal. To pretend otherwise is to betray out children.

People need to know the whole truth about the dangers of drug use, particularly of cannabis. So often portrayed as a benign, harmless substance but Susan Bedack’s terrible story shows it is far from that. So many of our members like her are desperate for help for their children who have irreversible cannabis – induced psychosis or schizophrenia.  They sincerely wish they had known the risks and the consequences of cannabis use; they wish society had impressed these on their youngsters before it was too late. They find it hard to forgive ‘liberals’ who continue to play them down.

We have a huge and important prevention battle to fight in the UK.  We are inviting you to join us in a drug prevention alliance, dedicated to warning of the dangers of drug use, and the foolhardiness of decriminalisation/legalisation to have a louder voice in the media and with the government. For further information about joining please contact the website.

Mr Farage, you have it in your power to help not hinder. Please start afresh on this.

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Lucy Dawe
Founder member, Cannabis Skunk Sense, a drug prevention and education charity

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