Peter Hitchens

We'll go down as the nation that smoked itself stupid

This is Peter Hitchens' Mail on Sunday column

ELib_504144Cannabis makes you stupid. I know this already, from the  feeble arguments and moronic insults that  I get from the dope lobby when I argue for harsher, more effective laws against this dangerous, unpredictable poison.

But now you and your children don’t need to take my word for it. Science has at last caught up with the blazingly obvious. Smoking cannabis in your  teens permanently reduces your IQ – official.

A highly reputable study traced a sample of more than 1,000 people from birth for 38 years. They controlled for all the other variables. Marijuana was the consistent factor in  the lives of those whose IQ shrank and stayed shrunk for ever. The more they smoked, the worse it was.

People who smoked the drug in their teens were still held back by the time they reached the age of 38. Even these  people’s friends confirmed that their memories and their attention spans had declined.

Imagine if some electronic device or prescription medicine were found to have this effect. Human habits would change  overnight. The company responsible would probably go out of business, after being forced to pay out billions in compensation.

The newspapers and the airwaves would rock and shudder with the row. ‘BAN THIS DRUG THAT WRECKS MINDS!’ they would shout, ‘BAN IT NOW!’ And Parliament would act.

But no. The story flickered briefly through the newspapers – page 7, page 4, page 2, page 12 in the shameful case of one  supposed quality daily, and page 27 in The Sun, where the news might have done most good. Only the Left-wing Guardian, to its lasting credit, put it on the front page where it belonged.

Many of those who most needed to know the risks they run will never have heard of this survey at all.

I cannot fathom this double standard. Think of our regular panics – mad cow disease, salmonella in eggs, swine flu, brain tumours from mobile phones, the wild fear of exposure to sunshine. Most of these, if not all of them, are trivial or mistaken.

But when a reputable, thorough and respected scientific survey shows a measurable danger to the brain from a drug that is widely used by the elite classes and their children, nothing happens.

Worse, our society continues to weaken the already feeble laws against it, with police officers instructed to issue meaningless ‘cannabis warnings’ to those caught with it.

The 40-year publicity campaign for dope, provided gratis by dozens of rock stars (who can flourish however stupid they are), has been so effective that 13-year-olds who smoke it do not even think it is a drug.

And untold numbers of criminal parasites make a tidy living by running chains of hydroponic cannabis farms in the attics of suburban houses. In fact, it is one of Britain’s few agricultural success stories of modern times.

When future Chinese historians ponder our national collapse, laughing softly as they do so, I think they may well note that this was the society that banned T-bone steaks while it decriminalised cannabis, and that it was the country that smoked itself stupid.

They will conclude that we deserved the irreversible national decline that followed. And they will be right.