PM gives guidance on perils of drugs

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The Independent Online
John Major yesterday launched a "get-real" no-nonsense parents' guide to drug use, warning them that no child, however bright, was safe from the temptation of drugs.

As if to prove the point, sitting alongside the Prime Minister was Tony Newton, the Leader of the House of Commons and the man spearheading the Government's drive against drug abuse, whose stepdaughter at the weekend said she smoked cannabis and believed it should be legalised.

But Mr Newton shrugged off suggestions that as a parent, he should have given sterner warnings. He said he "regretted" the admission of his stepdaughter, Verity Gilthorpe, 21, that she smoked up to 10 cannabis joints a day. He said she had never taken drugs at home and that "children disagreeing with their parents is the oldest story in history".

Although Mr Major's language was that of a Prime Minister about to fight a general election - talking of the "evil menace" of drugs, and how they "kill, maim and wreck lives" - the pamphlet he was launching is a factual document without frightening rhetoric. A Parents' Guide to Drugs and Solvents gives advice on how to identify drug abuse and confront children taking drugs. It informs about the effects and risks of drugs ranging from ecstasy and LSD to cocaine and magic mushrooms.

It says, for example that cocaine - "coke", "charlie" or "snow" -"creates a feeling of well-being, decreased hunger, indifference to pain and tiredness, and increased confidence" while warning that in the end "euphoria is replaced by restlessness, nausea, insomnia and weight loss" and the drug "damages the membranes lining the nose and the structure separating the nostrils".

Mr Major said: "We must not accept drug-taking as a teenage rite of passage. The only passage it can be is the passage to a wrecked life, or in some cases sadly, to no life at all."