Letter: Cannabis on trial

Sir: The Government's timid response to the Lords committee recommendation on medicinal use of cannabis highlights why we have little hope of reversing the terrible effects of dangerous drugs use.

If the Government is serious about reducing drugs use and the crime it causes, the campaign needs a dose of radical honesty. All the efforts of the past 50 years have been based on the demonising of any substance that isn't legal - hardly the approach to influence young people.

The narcotic debate is still based on the 1920s approach that was based on grounds of morality and deviance. Even the most dim-witted teenager will identify that alcohol is easily as culpable on these grounds, yet enjoys legal and taxable status.

Drugs use has to be tackled primarily on grounds of health risks and should target those substances that are demonstrably addictive or fatal and are at least more dangerous that alcohol or tobacco.

If you apply this test to existing proscribed substances many will fail despite over half a century of effort to link them to the proven effects of narcotics like heroin and cocaine.

With their big majority, there is no excuse for the Government not to raise the level of debate on drugs.