A few weeks ago our MP made a number of statements regarding the controversial retailers UK Skunkworks after a young man, Matt Ford of Whitstable, almost died from the effects of smoking one of their products.
I responded by saying that while these legal highs are untested and potentially dangerous, some of our illegal drugs are relatively safe. I sent Julian Brazier a copy of the story.
Here is an extract from his reply: “I am told by sources I respect that cannabis is both a much more potent drug than its namesake of the 60s and 70s and that it is now one of the major causes of schizophrenia – as you know we have a worrying rise in mental illness among young people.”
This brings up a number of questions. Where is the evidence? If it’s true that there is a rise in mental illness among the young, can it be shown that this is caused by cannabis?
Isn’t it just as likely, given that young people have had their futures stolen from them, – that they are the first generation in more than a century destined to be poorer than their parents – that the rise in mental illness might have other, more immediate, causes?
Should we be surprised if they are turning to cannabis for relief?
You will also notice that his reply is based upon hearsay. Who are these “sources”? If the government’s own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs says one thing, but Julian Brazier’s sources say another, how are we to know who is telling the truth?
This, of course, brings us to the question of democracy.
It’s fairly clear that Julian Brazier knows next to nothing about drugs. No MP can be an expert on every subject. Consequently he is always going to be guided by sources of information – or misinformation – which lie outside the public sphere.
The question then has to be, how do we regulate those sources? When an MP has business interests he is obliged to declare them. Perhaps he should also tell us the names of the people who inform him.