The mother of a young man whose suicide last year was ‘triggered’ by smoking cannabis has said her son thought the drug was harmless.
Melanie Leahy’s son Matthew, 20, hanged himself last November while he was an in-patient at a mental health hospital – he had been addicted to cannabis for a number of years.
But crossbench Peer Baroness Meacher is calling for a sweeping liberalisation of drugs laws.
She said possession of all drugs should be decriminalised, and she claimed that 77 per cent of MPs want a policy reform.
Matthew Leahy is thought to have started smoking cannabis at the age of 14 and from then his mental health gradually deteriorated.
His mother Melanie said she now knows from medical notes that Matthew admitted to his GP that he was smoking cannabis because “he believed it was harmless”.
She said he excelled academically at school, but because of his drug-taking he gained the equivalent of just two A-Levels and was later unable to continue his IT job due to delusions.
She said, “Matthew was in so much distress about these imagined parasites that it was preventing him from sleeping properly”.
She added: “His GP felt he was hallucinating due to his drug problem and referred Matthew to a consultant psychiatrist.”
Eventually Matthew was admitted to a mental health hospital, where he hanged himself in November last year.
Doctors say his suicide was triggered by his cannabis smoking.
In her comments on the Daily Politics programme, Lady Meacher referred to chief constable Mike Barton who recently said drug addicts should be “treated and cared for, not criminalised” and decriminalisation would take away the income of dealers.
But Kathy Gyngell of the Centre for Policy Studies criticised Mr Barton’s comments, saying the solution to the problem of drugs crime is not so “seductively simple”.
She said he is “at the coalface of a drugs policy regime that is paying a high price for its liberality”.