The story behind my petition on the link between Cannabis and violence

Ross Grainger explains what led him to starting his petition on the link between cannabis and violence – a petition that has been brought to prominence by Peter Hitchens.

Many social conservatives may have seen recently that the popular Mail on Sunday columnist and author Peter Hitchens has been publicising a parliamentary petition calling for an inquiry into the link between cannabis and violence, which you can access here. What many signatories don’t realise, though it says so on the page, is that the petition was created by me.

I have no problem with this. The petition is, for all intents and purposes, Mr Hitchens’: my interest in cannabis as a social evil began when I read his 2012 book The War We Never Fought: the British Establishment’s Surrender to Drugs and his many blog posts and columns on the overwhelming correlation between cannabis and psychopathic violence, which I’ll come back to. Furthermore, before his endorsement, the petition had gathered around 50 signatures in two months. In two weeks he has managed to attract, at the time of writing, more than 6500.

Mr Hitchens was initially reluctant to get involved, modestly claiming his influence was not as great as I supposed, and reasonably pointing out that the government and Parliament ignore such petitions all the time. I’m not sure why he changed his mind, but it may have been partly because he read Attacker Smoked Cannabis: a catalogue of murder and violent crime in the UK and Ireland 1998-2018, which I completed last November and posted to him and others before Christmas, and which you can access online here.

As the subtitle says, the book documents hundreds of cases of suicide and psychopathic violence committed by cannabis smokers, cases which, I and many experts believe, would not have occurred without cannabis. During my research I discovered not only a staggering array of violence and misery, but also a shifting media zeitgeist. As I explain in the section ‘Media bias’, in the last ten years or so a number of newspapers have become increasingly uninterested in whether a violent criminal smoked cannabis, and increasingly taken with fashionable claims of marijuana’s alleged medicinalbenefits.

Two further, and rather more significant, cannabis-related events took place just before Christmas. Here in the UK on 15 December, the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb tried to smuggle a cannabis legalisation bill through a Commons largely distracted by the matter of trying to exit the European Union. Despite strong cross party support, including from nine Conservative MPs, the bill failed by 14 votes. The Conservative Steve Double deserves credit for leading the opposition to Mr Lamb’s cynical and irresponsible ploy.

More positively, at around the same time, Alex Berenson released Tell Your Children: the Truth About Marijuana, Violence, and Mental Illness. Currently available in the UK only on e-readers, the book is a powerful and well written defence of a simple yet devastating hypothesis, ‘Marijuana causes paranoia and psychosis…Paranoia and psychosis cause violence.’

Put all these things together, and it’s clear that cannabis is currently a hot topic. I have spent much of the last fortnightarguing about the issue on Twitter with many dozens of (mostly anonymous and semi-literate) cannabis enthusiasts. Here are a few things I’ve learnt.

Correlation is not causation…unless we approve of the correlation

When I point out that there might be a meaningful link between the huge increase in the consumption of a powerful mind-altering drug (cannabis) and a huge increase in the number of acts of suicide and psychopathic violence committed by people who have consumed vast quantities of said mind-altering drug, cannabis lovers immediately say ‘Correlation is not causation’. I always suspect that they parrot this phrase for its alliteration rather than its significance, and am often proved right when, sometimes in the same tweet, they assure me that in certain American states legalisation has caused violent crime to decrease.

‘The Light Skirmish on Drugs’

In the aforementioned book The War We Never Fought, Peter Hitchens explains in great detail how, why and when the police, courts and political establishment in Britainsurrendered to drugs. The reason drugs are so prevalent today, he argues, is that we do nothing to interdict demand, and make only occasional sorties against supply. It is the former that is most glaring and misunderstood.

Since I began my campaign I have set the following challenge to hundreds of cannabis enthusiasts: cite a single case of somebody being imprisoned in the UK solely for drugs possession. So far, nobody has succeeded. People are arrested, yes, but not imprisoned. Some receive a suspended sentence and a fine in the low three figures. Most get off with a meaningless ‘cannabis warning’. In one of the stories in my catalogue, a man who hit his wife was found to have over £400 of cannabis. He was fined £85 for both offences. Even for possession with intent to supply, the incarceration rate is about 5%, in part because the threshold for ‘intent to supply’ appears to have risen considerably. In another story I found, a man arrested for various bizarre assault charges convinced the court that the nearly £40k worth of cannabis he possessed was for personal use. Similar examples abound.

To what extent, then, is there a ‘war’ on drugs in Britain? The answer, of course, is that there isn’t, but it suits the legalisation lobby to pretend there is, and that the resultant ‘mass’ incarceration and ‘criminalising’ of users is unjust. In most crimes, criminals criminalise themselves by willingly breaking a known law, but in the topsy-turvy world of cannabis, it is the police and courts (and government and evil people like me) who criminalise the hapless drug users, who apparently didn’t know what they were doing when they ordered the drug, paid for the drug, prepared the drug and consumed the drug.

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This is nothing, though, compared to the legalisation lobby’s greatest (false) argument…

Roll up! Roll up! Cannabis is a medicine!

As Alex Berenson points out in Tell Your Children, the success of the cannabis legalisation movement in North America is due almost entirely to a single idea: ‘If marijuana is a medicine it can’t be bad, and it can’t be bad if it’s a medicine.’

Cannabis, though, is not a medicine. It has never been authorised as such, not even in North America. Medicines are prescribed, and heal. Cannabis is authorised, and heals nothing. ‘Medical’ marijuana is simply marijuana, smoked by people who may or may not be ill, and who likely smoked already. Even its ability to numb pain is not guaranteed.Certain aspects of the drug, such as the oil, and the non-psychoactive ingredient CBD, may have some medicinal value, but this says as much about the pleasure drug than morphine says about the poppy. Moreover, even in the USA, only around 3% of cannabis is for ‘medical’ use. By exploiting this tiny and fraudulent niche, a number of mega corporations have become very rich indeed, and are about to become richer.

They looked from Big Tobacco to Big Cannabis, and from Big Cannabis to Big Tobacco, and from Big Tobacco to Big Cannabis again: but already it was impossible to say which was which

A few decades ago, tobacco lobbyists claimed not only that cigarettes were safe, but that they were actually good for you.They ran ads featuring pictures of what appeared to be doctors. They bribed politicians, and used TV and cinema to glamorise their product. Sound familiar? Indeed it does. How fitting, therefore, that this rapacious and mendacious greed lobby recently merged with its psychoactive herbal cousin in the form of Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris, spending nearly $2bn on a 45% stake in the Canadian cannabis producer Cronos Group.

In an even more ironic twist, given how often cannabis enthusiasts screech ‘Wot abhat alcohol, then, hypocrite’, last year Constellation Brands, a giant in beer, wine and spirits, made an even larger investment in Canopy Growth, another Canadian cannabis producer.

If any cannabis lovers have denounced these investments and recommended boycotting the companies in question, I have yet to hear it.

Hope?

I was pleased to discover recently that the Foundation Party, one of many to emerge fungi-like on the rotting log of British politics, considers cannabis a dangerous drug that people ought to be punished for possessing. I readily endorse their policy of a £1000 fine and caution for a first offence, and a six-month prison sentence for further offences. It cannot be said often enough: this currently does not happen, which is why one sees and smells this dangerous and nasty drug everywhere in Britain.

In addition, we urgently need an inquiry into why so many violent criminals and self-slaughterers have a history of smoking cannabis. As I write at the end of ‘Attacker Smoked Cannabis’, in 1998, the government launched an inquiry after 35 babies died following heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary in the early 1990s. More than 1,000 times that number of people have lost their minds from smoking cannabis, and many hundreds of these have committed appalling acts of murder and violence. We owe it to the victims and their families to investigate this link. Please sign my parliamentary petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/231109.

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