Scottish Scientist Against Legalising Cannabis

The debate on legalising cannabis is in the press again. From the USA the news is that Alaska has become the third state to legalise the recreational use of the drug and in Scotland there is new pressure to legalise not only cannabis but also ecstasy.

The Legalise Cannabis Lobby

The pro-cannabis lobby uses the controversial term “prohibition” when referring to the illegal status of cannabis and other drugs.

Spearheading the pro-cannabis lobby is Professor David Nutt, the former head of the British Government’s Advisory Council for Drugs Misuse. Nutt promotes the legalisation of both cannabis and ecstasy. He says the illegal status of cannabis prevents scientific research into medical treatment, claiming that the drug can benefit people suffering from cancer, post-traumatic stress and depression.

The Case Against Cannabis Legalisation

Neil McKeganey, founder of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research, has a different perspective. McKegany is a leading British researcher on the misuse of drugs and has voiced his concerns regarding the the Scottish government willingness to accept David Nutt’s arguments.

McKegany declared in a recent interview for the Scottish daily The National that Scotland’s drug problem is one of the worst in Europe and that legalisation is not part of the solution but part of the problem.

“It seems to me that the drugs problem in Scotland being worse than anywhere in Europe, it is completely the wrong advice” says McKeganey, referring to Nutt’s advice to the Scottish government.

Scotland indeed has a burgeoning drug problem. The Glasgow Herald reported in 2010 that 4 percents of Scots regularly use cocaine, the highest rate in the world at the time, and 1.5 percents of Scots inject opiates. A 2014 report suggest that trends have not changed much since 2010.

In addition, new scientific research papers consistently show that long term cannabis abuse results in negative effects. The Lancet medical journal recently published research that showed that “the risk of individuals having a psychotic disorder showed a roughly three-times increase in users of skunk-like cannabis compared with those who never used cannabis”.

McKeganey also stated for The National that scientific research into cannabis is being carried out and that legalisation will not improve access for scientific research of these substances:

“Researchers can already do research on marijuana and cannabis and there is no credible argument that would suggest that society’s drug laws themselves ought to be changed in order for researchers to work on these substances when they can already do so.”

Photo courtesy of canoncan at

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