The Christian Institute

News Release

The Aunts that could cause agony

The Christian Institute today attacked the views of Miriam Stoppard who has admitted using cannabis in the past and backed Clare Short’s call for the drug to be legalised.

In her new book Questions Children Ask she advises parents to tell children between 8 and 11 years old that: “People smoke marijuana because it makes them feel happy. But it is against the law,” and that marijuana “doesn’t do you much harm unless you smoke it regularly.”

Dr Stoppard is presently working on another book, The Drug Users’ Guide which she describes as “a how to take drugs safely and not to die book”. In an interview for the Daily Telegraph (18/6/97) she retorted that telling young people to “Just say no to drugs” was a “terribly adult” approach. When asked about the prospect of her own children taking drugs she replied “It doesn’t frighten me”.

Other prominent agony aunts including Claire Rayner have expressed their support for her comments.

Speaking today Iain Bainbridge, a researcher with the Institute said

“I am appalled that prominent people are calling for the legalisation of cannabis. Those who offer advice to young people are in positions of particular influence. They must ensure that the advice that they give is both morally sound and factually correct. I can only assume from her comments that she has not taken the time to examine the detailed medical evidence. Scientific research overwhelmingly demonstrates that cannabis is both physically harmful and psychologically addictive.

There is no safe way to take drugs. The ‘harm reduction’ approach, though fashionable in some circles, is increasingly discredited. Use of cannabis is linked, amongst other things to various forms of cancer, including lung cancer, damage to unborn children, damage to the immune system, depression, psychosis, and schizophrenia.

Children and young people need to hear a clear message that taking drugs is both morally wrong and physically dangerous. We welcome the Government’s assurances that they will make combating drugs a high priority.”