Craig Mackinlay MP, the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cannabis: Harmful Effects on Developing Brains, has welcomed the new rules on cannabis-based medicine prescriptions on a case-by-case basis but has warned of the threat that blanket legalisation poses to society.
Craig recently hosted an event in Parliament to increase awareness of the scientific evidence surrounding the cannabis debate, and highlighting the often overlooked impact it has on the human brain. Two highly-respected scientists in the field, Professor Keith Humphreys and Dr John Kelly, who have both advised the White House on drug policy in the past, attended and spoke at the event.
One of the main issues discussed involved Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element found in cannabis. Studies have shown that taking cannabis at an early age can lead to a loss of up to 8 IQ points during development, on a THC level of roughly 5%. Washington State’s cannabis, despite being legalised, now has an average THC level of 20%.
Craig Mackinlay MP commented:
“Given the recent furore in the media about cannabis legalisation, it is important that we remain level-headed when addressing such a significant and potentially dangerous issue.
“Those who are most vocal about legalisation often overlook the scientific facts in favour of political rhetoric. Far too few people are aware that, especially in young people with developing brains, cannabis can cause devastating and permanent mental damage, including schizophrenia. Science must prevail on this issue.
“I am supportive of the Home Office's new rules for medically tested and licensed cannabis-based medicine to be prescribed on a case-by-case basis, but this should not be conflated with cannabis legalisation. But I do remain wary that we may be introducing a new range of prescribed medicines which will invariably find their way into the illicit supply chain. I will not stand by and let future generations pay for a mistake we may make today.”
Dr John Kelly praised the event and highlighted the dangers that cannabis poses:
“The event was highly informative facilitating a productive exchange of information between community participants and policy, public health, and clinical scientists studying cannabis.
“I’d like people to know that cannabis does cause addiction and we’ve seen a doubling of the national rate of cannabis use disorder in the past 15 years in the U.S. Cannabis is also neurotoxic, particularly in the developing teenage brain. With the increase in potency of retail cannabis in U.S. states where it has been legalised for recreational use, it is currently unclear what this may do to adult brains as well.”
Professor Keith Humphreys added:
“From our own experience in the US, commercial marijuana legalisation has led prices to fall over 20% per year, making the drug much more affordable to young people. In addition, with potency and availability of marijuana having increased sharply, this has led many occasional users to become heavy, regular users, with unknown effects on their health.”