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ANYONE who is serious about wanting to know more about the drugs issue in Britain today will need to get hold of a copy of Drugs and the Party Line by Kevin Williamson.The book, which is published on Thursday (Canongate Books of Edinburgh, pounds 5.99), is an intelligent dissection of the myths and hypocrisy surrounding the use of recreational drugs, and plainly puts the questions the politicians are currently ducking.

In a powerful foreword, the writer of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh says: "In this book, Kevin Williamson has tried to sweep aside some of the bullshit in order to make sense of an issue which is shrouded in lies, disinformation and hysteria. He also presents a set of practical suggestions which offers a consistent alternative to the current mess and opens up the whole issue for real discussion and debate." Kevin Williamson, along with veteran cannabis campaigner Howard Marks, begins a five-city public debating tour at The Roundhouse in London's Chalk Farm on Thursday evening.

Another invaluable source of information is the new American paperback, Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts by Professors Lynn Zimmer and John P Morgan. These two academics from the New York drug policy research institute, The Lindesmith Centre, have systematically analysised the latest scientific evidence about the effects of cannabis. In clear language they show that while heavy cannabis use can be harmful, in general cannabis/marijuana is not nearly as harmful as the myths about the drug claim. Copies are available in the UK from Compendium Books in Camden, North London. More information on cannabis is available from the following:

For help and advice

Release: (for legal advice and information on all drugs) 388 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT. Tel 0171 603 8654.

ISDD (Institute for the Study of Drug Dependency)

Waterbridge House, 32-36 Loman Street, London SE1 OEE. Tel 0171 928 1211.

Lifeline: for info about specific drugs, tel 0161 839 2054.

Campaign Groups

Transform (The Campaign to Transform Drug policy and legalisation): Box 59, 82 Colston Street, Bristol BS1 5BB. Tel 0117 972 7428.

Scots Against Hypocrisy: PO Box 491, Edinburgh EH12 9DY.

Scottish Drug Users Forum: tel 0131 220 2584.

CLCIA (The Campaign to Legalise Cannabis International Association): 54C Peacock St, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1TB. Tel 01603 441178/625780.

CHIC (Cannabis Hemp Information Club): PO Box 2223, Glastonbury, BA6 9YU. Tel 01458 835769.

Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics: PO Box CR14, Leeds LS7 4XF. Fax 0113 237 1000.

Home Office

Jack Straw: The Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT.

Keith Hellawell: UK anti-drugs coordinator, Room 61-4 Government Offices, Great George Street, London, SW1 2AS.

Civil Liberties

Liberty, National Council for Civil Liberties: 21 Tabard St, London SE1 4LA. Tel 0171 403 3888.

Scottish Council for Civil Liberties: 146 Holland Street, Glasgow G2. Tel 0141 332 5960.

Amnesty International: 99-119 Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4RE. Tel 0171 814 6200.