Letters

Improving the debate on cannabis

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7250.1671 (Published 17 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1671

This article has a correction. Please see:

Let's find out whether cannabis has therapeutic value

  1. William Notcutt, consultant anaesthetist ([email protected])
  1. James Paget Hospital, Great Yarmouth NR31 6LA
  2. Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE
  3. NHS Executive North West, Warrington WA3 7QN
  4. Public Health Sector, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 2AB
  5. National Poisons Information Service (London), Medical Toxicology Unit, London SE14 5ER

    EDITOR—In discussions of the use of cannabis one of the biggest problems over the past few years has been the difficulty in separating the debate on the recreational use from that on the therapeutic use. The article by Strang et al also mixes the two issues.1

    In all my years of working in pain relief I cannot remember the equivalent mix-up taking place over cocaine, morphine, heroin, etc. Although some matters occasionally overlap, the two main elements of the cannabis debate must remain in separate arenas. Only then can we educate politicians and the public about the facts and the real issues.

    Meanwhile, let's get on and find out whether cannabis has significant and valuable therapeutic potential. This agent has been used medicinally for 5000 years and we still don't know whether it is therapeutically effective.

    References

    1. 1.

    Consider public welfare, not just public health

    1. Andrew Healey, research officer ([email protected])
    1. James Paget Hospital, Great Yarmouth NR31 6LA
    2. Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE
    3. NHS Executive North West, Warrington WA3 7QN
    4. Public Health Sector, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 2AB
    5. National Poisons Information Service (London), Medical Toxicology Unit, London SE14 5ER

      EDITOR—Strang et al raise a number of salient issues in the debate over whether cannabis should be legalised.1 However, the eight “domains of the cannabis debate” identified are centred exclusively on a public health conception of the relevant policy issues. Although this is understandable given the audience that the authors are addressing, they fail to consider more fundamental issues of what the public policy objectives should be when considering the recreational use of cannabis.

      Their discussion reflects the fact that the medical profession has a natural tendency to judge the public …

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