Prohibitionists have shamelessly turned the devastating murder of a six-year-old girl into a political football in a bid to smear cannabis users.
After news broke that Isle of Bute schoolboy Aaron Campbell had been found guilty of raping and killing Alesha MacPhail, the Daily Express ran an article headlined: “Alesha MacPhail: Murder leads to calls to get tough on cannabis”.
The paper’s Ben Borland ‘reported’ that: “Detectives are at a loss to explain the teenager’s motives, although it was just the latest heinous and seemingly inexplicable crime committed by a perpetrator who frequently smoked cannabis.”
We have to wonder if Ben has ever made the same kind of tenuous link to a murder and the murderer’s frequent smoking of cigarettes, consumption of champagne or mind-rotting sugary sweets?
“There is a growing body of evidence linking the drug to violent crime and teenage psychosis,” claims Ben, who then quotes Ross Grainger, an anti-cannabis campaigner who says he has compiled a “catalogue of suicide and psychopathic violence committed by cannabis smokers in the UK and Ireland” over the past two decades including 200 murders, rapes and savage assaults.
The ‘hoard’ of ‘evidence’ are mostly a collection of tabloid headlines! From tabloid media whose representation of cannabis has been biased to start with. Ever since once Prime Minister Gordon Brown claimed “skunk is lethal” cannabis has been fair game for the gutter press.
Grainger directly contradicts himself when he says: “In this case, as in all such cases, I do not say that cannabis ’caused’ the perpetrator to do what he did, but rather that it would not have happened if he had not smoked cannabis.”
So he admits that cannabis didn’t cause the actions of the individual concerned, but that the individual would not have taken these actions if he had not smoked cannabis! Which is it?
“There is copious evidence, going back decades, of the immense harm cannabis can do to an adolescent mind, and it is, in my view, the only possible explanation for this young man’s depravity and savagery.”
The only explanation, he says, because there hasn’t been countless examples of similar crimes in the past in which the perpetrator has not been a smoker of cannabis?
Grainger’s shallow ‘analysis’ is, of course, nothing more than the recycling of the tactics that were used to get cannabis banned internationally in the first place, most famously with the 1936 film Reefer Madness which depicted a man going crazy after smoking cannabis and then killing his family
Grainger’s campaign to demonise cannabis – egged on by the likes of Daily Mail propagandist Peter Hitchens – is a desperate way of trying to halt the march of progress as legalisation continues to spread around the world. This concerted campaign recently saw the media mislead the public with claims that teenage use caused depression in adulthood.
As Ian Hamilton, a researcher in psychology at University of York, told us about that story: “It is a minority of children (or adults) using cannabis that will develop a problem. Even then we still can’t say with confidence that it is cannabis that is to blame as young people will do a range of other things, including using other drugs, that can increase the risk of developing problems, including mental health issues.
“There is still a lot we don’t understand about the relationship between cannabis and mental health, for example whether people who begin to feel depressed seek out drugs like cannabis in order to feel better or just different, or whether cannabis amplifies the symptoms of depression in people who are already depressed but not formally diagnosed as yet.”
The idea that Grainger has “copious” amounts of “evidence” is an outright lie. He has a small number of cases over 20 years where one of the things perpetrators consumed was cannabis, nothing more. To prove a link to violence he would need to monitor a vastly larger number of cannabis users. But he would never do this because he knows he would find that the vast majority are peaceful folk who use cannabis to relax and medicate.
The likes of Grainger disrespect the victims of crime by using them as political footballs and then again by scapegoating something that obscures the real causes of crime, such as the societal factors that encourage ‘toxic masculinity’ behind male violence – misogynist rags likely the Daily Express, for example. Why was this boy not receiving care to treat his temper? Nothing to do with the hollowing out of the NHS by the racket behind privatisation, which have seen mental health services decimated?
And if what the boy smoked did have some effect on his behaviour, then this happened under prohibition, precisely because prohibition does not prevent underage use, because dealers do not ask for ID. And what exactly did he smoke? What dangerous pollutants were mixed up with the cannabis? Grainger complains about problems that are caused by prohibition. In the US states where adult cannabis consumption has been legalised, teenage use has declined.
These problems can only be addressed by regulation! Such obvious facts expose Grainger’s cynicism.
Grainger’s ‘evidence’ is listed on the blog Attacker Smoked Cannabis, and his petition demanding the government investigate the possible link between cannabis and violence before deciding on legalisation has been signed by more than 12,000 people after just a few weeks. 10,000 compels the government to respond. It said: “We have no intention of legalising cannabis. We are aware of the strong link between drug misuse and offending and an independent review will further add to our understanding of this.”
There are several pro-cannabis petitions going that UKCSC has put into a list here. It is important to sign these to show Grainger he is fighting a losing battle! But perhaps our demands need to be more centralised to have a bigger impact? What do you think?