You have to envy students these days, if only to marvel at the access to information about drugs they have. I only tried cannabis after spending months watching my dope-smoking university colleagues for signs of everything from emaciation to psychosis. Even then, we were probably getting high from the nicotine; we had no way of knowing what the effects were supposed to be.

But now, 20 minutes on the Internet and anybody knows as much about cannabis as the average pharmacology lecturer. You've probably come across our sister paper's campaign to decriminalise the use of cannabis for recreational and medicinal use. But that has been presaged for years on the Internet with discussions about the drug; from the political background of prohibition, to detailed medical studies of psychoactive effects.

Of Britain's sites, the best place to start is the home page for the Campaign to Legalise Cannabis, a pressure group devoted to lobbying for the decriminalisation of the drug. This is typical of the tone most pages devoted to the subject seem to take. The idea of decriminalising cannabis has become so mainstream that there isn't much left to shock us. The only broad point of contention between groups is whether the drug should merely be decriminalised or outright legalised.

One of the most lucid of the American pages subscribing to the latter view is Legalise USA, which sets out a practical programme for decriminalisation. For example, it would be legal to grow up to 10 cannabis plants for personal use. It would be legal to consume cannabis products or to possess up to 50 grams (dry weight) of cannabis for personal use, and it would be OK to supply small quantities (up to 50 grams) to people aged 18 and over for no payment.

Before you ask, by the way, I couldn't find a site offering to sell the stuff. The Internet may be the intellectual anarchy we know and love, but I guess it's good to know some things are still forbidden - talking of which, given how commonplace cannabis legalisation debates are, it's understandable that pathological libertarians would want a new cause. How about the decriminalisation of heroin? And, yes, there is a site espousing just such a cause. In this case, the writer argues that opiates were only banned in most parts of the world as part of racist intolerance towards opium-smoking Chinese labourers at the end of the last century.

I can't, I have to confess, find anyone out there suggesting the decriminalisation of cocaine. I can only assume that anybody with that cause close to their heart has so much money that they'd rather be out partying than sitting at their computer posting things on the Internet.

Campaign to Legalise Cannabis home page

A US-based pro-cannabis page.


The case for legalising heroin.