Cannabis is still seen as a risk-free drug despite mounting evidence that it can lead to serious mental health problems, particularly amongst young teenagers, people with a family history of severe mental illness and in long-term users.
By Rethink, [RxPG] The mental healthy charity Rethink on September 23 gave evidence to the Advisory Council on the Mis-use of Drugs, which is considering the classification of cannabis at the request of the Home Secretary and called for a long-term, properly funded public health campaign highlighting the mental health dangers of using cannabis.
It warned the committee that it would be a waste of money to reverse its decision taken 18 months ago to reclassify cannabis from a Class B to Class C drug and would not deter people from using it.
Instead, the charity called for the money to be spent on a massive public education campaign to inform users and potential users of the well-founded mental health dangers of using cannabis at a young age and over a long period of time.
Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior told the committee: Cannabis is still seen as a risk-free drug despite mounting evidence that it can lead to serious mental health problems, particularly amongst young teenagers, people with a family history of severe mental illness and in long-term users.
Rethink told the committee that other countries had woken up to the dangers and invested heavily in public health campaigns, despite far lower rates of usage than Britain .
The government has a responsibility to inform people of the real risks and not hide behind a knee-jerk criminal justice response to what is a mounting health crisis, said Mr Prior.
The committee heard from one service user about his experience of using cannabis and developing schizophrenia and was presented with testimony from other service users and family members about the impact cannabis had on their lives.
About Rethink severe mental illness
Rethink is a campaigning membership charity involving people with severe mental illness and carers, with a network of mutual support groups around the country. Rethink is also the largest voluntary sector service provider in mental health, helping 7500 people each day.
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