Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice

Drugs should be legalised, regulated, and taxed

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 10 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2057

Rapid Response:

Re: Drugs should not be legalised, regulated, and taxed

The news that the BMJ wishes to decriminalise cannabis alarms and appals me in equal measure.

Surely doctors should know about neurotransmitters and how they operate in the brain?

THC mimics and so replaces anandamide, one of the commonest and most important ones. Anandamide is responsible for keeping the release of other neurotransmitters in the brain under control and on an even keel.

However, the action of THC is very much stronger, especially in ‘skunk’, the sole form of cannabis available in London. It damps down the activity of the other neurotransmitters so that the brain is severely impaired. This is seen especially in the hippocampus where some neurons die due to lack of stimulation. Academic performance plummets, IQ points are lost and many youngsters drop out of education altogether.

Compounding this effect is the fact that the fat-soluble THC lingers in the brain cells for weeks, constantly reinforcing its damaging message. There are no enzymes to break it down. In contrast it takes only about an hour to break down one unit of alcohol.

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 May 2018
Mary Brett
Chair, Cannabis skunk Sense
Amersham Bucks