by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[Y]ou don’t have to smoke the cannabis. You can eat, drink and bathe in it, rub it on your sore spots and even brush your teeth with cannabis toothpaste. …
… And I must admit, the way it’s all sold, as some kind of divine health-giving elixir, certainly makes the idea of dabbling more palatable. But I am not here to partake. Because behind the shiny pots and serenely smiling assistants, a far more disturbing picture is emerging.
Over the past few years, doctors in California have begun to voice concerns about the repercussions of increasing cannabis use. In particular, how the laissez-faire approach is fuelling a surge in addiction and mental illness.
Many are particularly concerned about Los Angeles, where teenagers use the drug more often than in any other Californian city.
I spent a week travelling across LA and beyond, meeting emergency doctors in the eye of the storm, as well as devastated parents who say their families have been torn apart by cannabis.
Part of my journey followed in the footsteps of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who recently visited a number of LA’s dispensaries on a ‘fact finding mission’. …
… Perhaps Khan would benefit from a chat with Dr Roneet Lev, an emergency doctor at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, who tells me: ‘We’ve been seeing the problems for a while now: depressive breakdowns, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, all related to cannabis. The patients are regular people, not down-and-outs.
‘I want people to know the truth about this drug. We’ve been sold a lie, that cannabis use is harmless and even has a multitude of health benefits. It is exactly the same as what happened with tobacco. The industry told the public it was good for their health at first, before it was proven to be deadly.’