The government on drugs

Dear God Almighty. Someone has been smoking some serious shit.

Advisers manning the “Frank” helpline are informing callers they believed to be children as young as 13 that alcohol is a “much more powerful drug than cannabis” and that using the illegal drug recreationally is not harmful because it “doesn’t get you that high”.

Callers are also being told that taking ecstasy will not lead to long-term damage and that if they are in doubt, to “just take half a pill and if you are handling that OK, you can take the other half.”

They are even being told that they would be able to smoke a cannabis joint, on top of ecstasy, with no ill-effects.


The helpline, established by the Government in 2003 with £3 million funding, was described in a Home Office drugs strategy recently as “the key channel by which Government communicates the dangers of drugs, including cannabis, to young people”.

But in calls to its helpline, manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, reporters posing as teenagers were told by different advisers that drug taking was not harmful.


Another councillor said that cannabis, a class B drug, should be regarded as class C and that “cannabis doesn’t really get you that high. You know you are always in control”.

A third adviser stated: “nicotine is physically addictive. Cannabis isn’t. You can stop smoking it any time you want.”

Alcohol was presented as a much greater danger than illegal drugs, including heroin, more expensive and with many more negative effects.

One adviser told a caller: “The withdrawals of alcohol are worse than heroine for example; people can die when they become addicted to alcohol and stop suddenly.”


He went on to say that if alcohol was illegal, it would be a class A drug, the most harmful category, whereas “cannabis should just be a class C drug”.

Another reporter, posing as a 15-year-old girl who had taken her first ecstasy tablet, asked if it would affect her health in any way.

The response was “Nah”. He told the caller that he could not say “go and take Es, you’re absolutely fine”, but that “in terms of taking a pill like that, it’s not going to affect your health”.

This is absolutely appalling, don\’t you think? That a government agency should be giving out fair and true advice on the dangers of drugs? Who in hell do these people think they are? How can we stampede the populace into continuing to support our current insane prohibition if some bastard goes and tells them the truth?

Looks like we need a moral panic to get us out of this corner!

Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “The idea that the Government’s helpline should be saying to young people “go for it” and that cannabis should be class C when it has just been classified by the Government as class B, shows that the Home Office is all over the place in its approach to drugs.”

Ah, how fortunate, here comes one.

9 thoughts on “The government on drugs”

  1. I suppose that having scared the poor dears s**tless with their TV advertising the least they can do is calm them down with a bit of truth for those who worried enough actually to call them.

  2. “The withdrawals of alcohol are worse than heroine for example; people can die when they become addicted to alcohol and stop suddenly.”

    As you say, these people are spreading poisonous garbage, but that particular remark is strictly speaking true. Heroin withdrawal is unpleasant but survivable. Alcohol withdrawal plays havoc with the heart.

    Without treatment, mortality from the DTs is around 30%.

    The difference with alcohol is, of course, that the vast majority of drinkers never become physically addicted to the stuff. I rather suspect that isn’t true for heroin.

    Tim adds: Dave, you seem to have missed my point. All of the things that Frank says there are true, including that booze and the DTs one.

    I’m personally deeply unconvinced that heroin is physically addictive: psychologically, yes, certainly, but not physically.

  3. Look on the bright side- the more people hear the truth the greater the chance of heading off the moral panic. Politicians react to what they think people think- but they live in a bubble and don’t actually know what people think. They’ll change tack when they don’t get the answer they expect.
    p.s. re Heroin- I seem to recall that addicted vietnam veterans managed to quit in the main without massive problems.

  4. I thought that ecstacy had problems in areas such as memory and cognitive functions?

    But yes, cannabis should of course by class C, seeing how that’s what the toxicologists said it should be.

  5. Tim Almond, the “destroys the brain” stuff about ecstasy comes from a study in which primate brains were show to be horribly damaged by it, and was picked up on rapidly by temperance campaigners. What hasn’t been widely publicised is the “erratum”; the scientists discovered they’d got a mislabelled bottle in the lab and had been injecting their primates with high doses of methamphetamine, and issued a full retraction of the study.

    That was good science- to admit a genuine mistake. But campaigners don’t care about that. The scare is more important.

  6. “p.s. re Heroin- I seem to recall that addicted vietnam veterans managed to quit in the main without massive problems.”

    I imagine US soldiers were given medical-quality heroin, which all junkies used up until around the 60s. It’s really no different from morphine, not *that* bad for you, and not as addictive as people make out. However, the crudely-refined brown shit we get from Afghanistan nowadays is a very different kettle of fish.

    It’s the same with any drug – the better quality the stuff, the fewer bad side effects. That’s why you get worse hangovers with cheap and nasty booze than you get with more expensive stuff.

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