In 1997, this newspaper launched a campaign to decriminalise the drug. If only we had known then what we can reveal today. Record numbers of teenagers are requiring drug treatment as a result of smoking skunk, the highly potent cannabis strain that is 25 times stronger than resin sold a decade ago. More than 22,000 people were treated last year for cannabis addiction – and almost half of those affected were under 18. With doctors and drugs experts warning that skunk can be as damaging as cocaine and heroin leading to mental health problems and psychosis for thousands of teenagers, The Independent on Sunday has today reversed its landmark campaign for cannabis use to be decriminalized.
The skunk smoked by the majority of young Britons bears no relation to traditional cannabis resin – with a 25-fold increase in the amount of the main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabidinol (THC), typically found in the early 1990s. New research being published in the week’s Lancer will show how cannabis is more dangerous than LSD and ecstasy. Experts analysed 20 substances for addictiveness, social harm and physical damage. The results will increase the pressure on the Government to have a full debated on drugs, and a new independent UK drug policy commission being launched next month will call for a rethink on the issue.