Home > Cannabis reclassification: What is the message to the next generation of cannabis users?

McCrystal, Patrick and Winning, Kerry (2009) Cannabis reclassification: What is the message to the next generation of cannabis users? Child Care in Practice, 15, (1), pp. 57-73. https://doi.org/10.1080/13575270802504354.

At the beginning of 2004 the UK government downgraded the legal status of cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug. Following a review of this decision two years later, cannabis remained a Class C substance –which for some contrasted with the potential harmful social and health effects associated with its use, particularly for young people. These included its links with respiratory damage, problems during pregnancy and its potential to exacerbate mental health problems. When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007 his government decided to revisit this issue and requested a re-examination of its legal status. Despite the advice of its own scientific advisory body, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the UK government reclassified cannabis back to a Class B drug in May 2008.

This paper examines the existing scientific evidence on the potential impact of cannabis use on young people within the context of the UK government's reclassification initiative over the past four years. This evidence remains inconclusive whilst the perception of young people to the effects of cannabis use during, and now after, the period of the reclassification debate is not yet known. This now makes it particularly challenging to communicate a clear message in the most effective manner with young people about the possible risks of cannabis use, and would appear to make it difficult to provide a clear and unambiguous statement on what message this initiative has sent to the next generation of cannabis users, as they see the government rethink its position on several occasions before eventually changing its mind.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Article
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Page Range
pp. 57-73
Taylor & Francis
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HRB (Not in collection)
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