Labour’s Spartacus Moment.

My, my…

The chancellor, Alistair Darling, today became the most senior member of the cabinet to admit he had smoked cannabis “occasionally in my youth”.

The shock admission, from the minister best known as a “safe pair of hands”, came after the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, revealed that she had dabbled with the drug during her university days.

The disclosure – made while Ms Smith discussed the prime minister’s announcement yesterday of a review into whether marijuana should be reclassified back to class B after it was downgraded to class C three years ago – prompted an avalanche of similar admissions from her cabinet colleagues.

Look I know that with a Ministerial post comes a measure of collective responsibility, nevertheless who would expected this turn in the Labour’s “I’m Spartacus” moment.

More to point:

To the astonishment of colleagues, the transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, a devout Catholic, also admitted today that she had smoked the drug as an undergraduate.

Ruth Kelly’s office confirmed that she had smoked cannabis “in her youth”. A spokeswoman said: “She recognises that it was foolish and a silly thing to do, and she stopped.”

No, I can’t quite picture Ruth skinning up on the cover of an album of Gregorian chants either, but then frankly who cares.

Yes, there’s a stench of hypocrisy around this – talk to most ordinary people who’ve toked in the past and even if they have given it up, most will happily admit to enjoying it and that the worst side-effect they ever encountered was waking up the following morning to an empty fridge.

Much more important, in terms of misinformation and propaganda is that the paragraphs that follow these less-than-stunning revelations:

The home secretary is due to formally announce the review next week as part of a wide-ranging drugs inquiry that in part reflects concern about skunk, a stronger form of cannabis being blamed for an increase in mental health disorders.

Now, I will dig out something I can post in full, but having taken a look at several research papers on the subject of cannabis and mental health, the most striking think about these statements in the press is the wholesale absence of two very important words that appear routinely in the research literature:-

Pre-existing Liability.

Every single research paper I’ve read that examines cannabis use in the context of claims that increases the risk of serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia and psychotic disorders notes that the increased risks that have been identified are found only in those with a pre-existing liability towards those disorders, a predisposition that researchers strongly suspect has genetic origins.

Got that? The current state of play in the research is that there is an increased risk of mental health problems arising out of cannabis use in individuals who possess a genetic predisposition toward experiencing such problems.

The precise genetic and biochemical factors that come into play and the prevalence of such pre-existing liabilities in the general population are both, as yet, unknown, although researchers have identified at least two promising lines of enquiry on the causative factors, both of which require more research before anything definitive can be said.

So far as I can see from the published literature, our current understanding of the precise relationship between cannabis use and mental health problems amounts to a couple of promising hypotheses which suggest that an as yet unquantified segment of the general population might be at greater risk of developing certain psychological disorders for which they have a genetic predisposition if they toke on a regular basis, especially while an adolescent.

If that’s the medical argument for reclassifying cannabis upwards, then one might just as easily justify classifying peanuts as a class A substance on grounds of the increasing prevalence of of peanut allergies in recent years on much the same basis but on the back of considerable more solid research evidence.

Politicians toking during their university days – who cares anymore.

Propaganda and misinformation on the real scale and understanding of the risks involved in cannabis use – that’s the real scandal here.

Time for a video… (NSFW)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb7ZFpr5n0o
  • epsilon

    I hope you will forgive this hijack, Unity.

    I was attempting to post on Guido’s cesspool of shite website that he was finished; and that I hoped Levy, Turner or both would use the scumbag into the ground for the deliberate campaign of lies and deceit that he created and led around them.

    Oddly enough, his moderation has been turned off. He is frit- he has run off to bed like the stupid child that he is.

    I hope you will let me say on here, Unity, what I meant to say on there- Guido is finished as a blogger of repute. He will continue, with his sockpuppet cunt fraternity licking his anus as always, but as a host of serious news, he is done.

    It’s 1-0 to Labour and all progressive forces tonight; regardless of what Tory Lite and his campaign of filth and dirty tricks have come up with.

  • redpesto

    Never mind images of Kelly skinning up in the confession box, what about Blears’ admission that she liked a toke as well? Or is the point of being a party-line-following droid that it even applies to taking drugs (but not enjoying them, no way, of course not…).

  • Nic

    But with one in four people having some sort of mental illness problem at some point in their life, perhaps caution re: cannabis is understandable?

    Personally, I found cannabis aggravated my depression,and caused a complete mental collapse nine years ago. That’s a pain in the rear, as it would also (according to research) alleviate the symptoms of my more recently diagnosed Multiple Sclerosis … hey ho…

    So on one hand, I’d like cannabis to be legal for people with MS, arthritis and other conditions as it’s been proven to help, but on the other … mental collapse and psychosis can really fuck up your life… what’s to do?