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Six million new cannabis users if we soften our stance

With new research indicating there would be nearly six million new cannabis users should laws on the drug be relaxed, Frank Young believes it's about time our politicians got tough and ruled out any change in legislation. 

Plans by the London Mayor to go super soft on cannabis would lead to almost a million new cannabis users in the capital and cost London taxpayers a billion pounds to treat tens of thousands of new psychosis patients according to new research pushed out last week by Civitas, the think tank where I work.

If you don't live in London and don't think this matters to you we have also published a new league table charting the rise in cannabis users across every police force area in Britain. It makes grim reading for police chiefs. Across the UK there would be six million new cannabis users (for the full breakdown, click here).

More worrying still is finding that one in five parents of primary school kids is regularly smoking weed. Twice as many parents who are pro-legalising cannabis say their teenagers have smoked weed than anti-legalisation parents. Pro-legalisation parents are also twice as likely to reject tougher approaches to teens using cannabis. It seems cannabis is the latest woke vs non woke battleground in British politics.

This is a hidden parenting divide that should worry health chiefs and Sajid Javid who is planning a major summer push on public health – ciggies and burgers are in his sights but should we be more worried about weed and parents? Going soft on cannabis would lead to 1.5 million parents of primary school children trying cannabis according to our sums.

Barely one in ten of these woke parents are worried about their children being offered cannabis probably because they don't understand the links between cannabis and serious mental health problems for teenagers. For these parents cannabis is a 'normal part of youth culture'.

Academics in Portugal have pinpointed a 30-fold increase in psychosis directly linked to a super soft approach to cannabis, can our struggling NHS mental health service cope with millions of extra spaced out young adults?

There must be polling on this in City Hall which explains why Sadiq Khan is so keen to push these buttons with a new cannabis committee to send virtue signals to trendy London parents. London is the easiest place in Britain to get hold of cannabis but will the Mayor's new committee for cannabis virtue signalling bother to talk to London's black parents?

We've uncovered a super tough approach by black and minority parents to cannabis, tucked away in our poll. These parents are big supporters of stop and search top get drugs off the streets. It often seems to be the white parents shrugging their shoulders and saying "what's the harm?"

Rumour has it that new Downing Street fixer, David Canzini is looking for big wedge issues to put clear blue water between Liberal types and a robust new anti-woke conservatism. Our mega poll shows there are big divides between pro- and anti-legalisation parents on getting tough. Measures like searching kids in school, calling in the police if they smell of weed and officers using stop and search are all backed by black and minority ethnic parents as well as parents who don't want to see cannabis legalised. Coming out hard against cannabis would tell parents to take some responsibility and send LBC phone lines into meltdown, just as he would want.

The bottom line is scientists are increasingly worried about the link between psychosis in early adulthood and smoking cannabis. New woke parents are doing us and their children no favours. Researchers at University College London and King's College London have found teenagers who smoke cannabis are three and a half times more likely to become addicted than their older adult counterparts who use cannabis. Civitas looked at the data from our poll and ONS population numbers to find that a million young adults (18-24) would pick up a joint for the first time if we legalised cannabis.

We can offer all the education we like but it has to go hand in hand with a tough approach to stop and search and a clear signal that cannabis is dangerous and isn't just a bit of fun. When is Dominic Raab going to get on and deliver community payback schemes? A few parents in high viz jackets picking up litter would soon bring them down from their high.

In many parts of Britain, ordering cannabis is as easy as ordering a pizza according to British parents. There's a lot of money to be made through a legal cannabis market and increasingly politicians are simply shrugging their shoulders and acquiescing to calls to legalise cannabis as if nothing else could be done. Brits with kids disagree and want tough-talking, tough-acting police chiefs and politicians. It's about time we got the politicians we deserve.

Frank Young is editorial director at the Civitas think tank.
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