Friday, 25 November 2011

Cannabis - FRANKs campaign of fear

During a random sweep to review cannabis articles on the internet, I decided to visit FRANK, a government funded, drug advice website, to find out what their advice, expertise and experience with cannabis and users are. After a quick scan of the content regarding cannabis, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry with disbelief at the stereotypical parody, particularly the overstated effects. Talk about pre-war caricatures set in a seedy flat and preying on people's fear! Maybe masturbation will turn me blind and insane after all. Then I came across this article:

"The regular use of cannabis is known to be associated with an increase in the risk of later developing psychotic illnesses including schizophrenia. If you have a family background of mental illness, you may have an increased risk of developing a psychotic illness using cannabis."

Aside from selling me the idea that cannabis carries the same effects as tobacco (Total fabrication of truth and using a bong removes the harmful element altogether) AND that cannabis makes you hallucinate (Something that has never happened to me in 25 years), I was particularly angered because there was no opportunity to reply. Comically there is a huge 'YES' button asking if the article helped. It appears they aren't interested if you question their logic. Without being able to question the statement online, I wrote to 'FRANK' by quoting the statement and adding;

"Please can you forward the source of your information for this statement. Thank you".

The following day they wrote back:

Thanks for getting in touch with FRANK regarding the information on the website.
You have come through directly to a FRANK adviser. We do not carry the research material for the website. The best way to access the information would be via We hope this has helped. Kind regards, FRANK"

Well, um, FRANK (Is this a real person?), not really. I had expected more to be perfectly honest and not just referral to the generic Home Office site. I did track down information regarding cannabis on the Home Office site. It is mostly about the classification of cannabis and the punishment for the possession and for dealing. I finally located a paper hidden away, after trawling through their search box. It associated cannabis alongside general hard drug use, like injecting heroin. It also highlighted non-scientific 'persuasion' of the aforementioned ill-health effects. I wrote back to FRANK.

Thanks. I'm disappointed. Whenever I put information on my site it is based on research and experience. If you are just pulling information from the government aren't you worried that the information is biased and political rather than scientific. If you hand out advice that isn't independent how can you be an honest point of reference. Basically do you actually have any experts or knowledge to advise me on my original question?"

I haven't heard back from FRANK but what is clear about FRANK is that it will tell lies. It is simply a government propaganda website filling teenagers and their parents with fear. Remember too how, The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) advised against upgrading cannabis to a class B drug and how FRANK stated, on its site, that the ACMD backed the upgrade. Thus it does what it believes the government wants it to do and is clearly vetted. I even considered if it is run by direct government employees. There is no debate, no open forum, no opportunity to debunk or refute the information. Information is forced fed to its readers. This government funded site sells fear through biased one sided stories of woe that cannot be challenged.

There is no scientific evidence in existence that cannabis causes psychotic illness or schizophrenia. There are no known direct deaths linked to cannabis. This site is channelled to fuel fear into the people reading it. This is not the friendly, honest advice I was hoping to see. When a medium produces dishonest articles then who knows where the sources behind the readers' stories come from too. There is no way this site is regulated independently. If somebody wrote to the contrary that cannabis had reduced their pain through use or they had been using it for 30 years without adverse ill effect or offered real advice regarding caution over excess and supply or simply wanted to share great experience using cannabis the information would be deleted, left unused in the FRANK email tray or sent back to the government to keep records on you. Undeterred I wrote back to FRANK.

"Dear FRANK,
As I doubt I am likely to hear back from you, offering me any real advice based on scientific facts that cannabis has proven links to psychosis, here is my advice for you. 1. Please do research cannabis independently and base your findings and advice on science and experience and not on politics. 2. Please give your readers the right to reply by setting up a forum for open debate. 3. Please offer your careful advice to include drugs like alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and prescribed artificial drugs. Until then I will not be advising anyone to use your site."

I am still waiting for a reply.

Other related blogs by me: