Two parents whose sons suffered from schizophrenia and crippling anxiety after taking cannabis have issued pleas not to legalise casual use of the drug.
They spoke out after William Hague backed dramatically weakening cannabis laws last week. The Government is so far resisting such pressure.
In an article for the Independent, journalist Patrick Cockburn warned that legalising cannabis “legitimises it and sends a message that the government views it as relatively harmless”.
Cockburn has written previously about how his son developed schizophrenia – saying that he had been playing “Russian roulette” with cannabis.
In his latest article, he cautioned that legalising recreational cannabis would “put it into the hands of commercial companies” who are out to make a profit.
Instead what should be done, Cockburn wrote, is a “sustained campaign to persuade people of all ages that cannabis can send them insane”.
In a letter to a national newspaper, an unnamed parent told how their son “started smoking this awful stuff at the age of 14”.
They explained that they had thought their son’s mood changes were merely “down to teenage angst”.
But upon discovering he was taking skunk – the most commonly available version of cannabis today – the parent urged him to stop.
It wasn’t until he was “at the risk of losing all that was dear to him” that he quit and within months he became happier.
However, six years later the “lasting legacy of his years of cannabis use” still emerges.
“He gets feelings of self-doubt, hopelessness and self-persecution that are painful to witness.
“He usually recovers within a day or two, but I am convinced these symptoms are the result of his years of puffing.”
Last week the Home Secretary said cannabis would not be made legal for casual use, although a review of the drug for medical use will be conducted.
Certain cannabis-derived medicine is already legally available in the UK, but critics have said a ‘medical use’ argument can end in legalising the drug for casual use as well.