The Reader: Education is key to real change on cannabis issue

At last there is a sensible investigation into cannabis [“The Cannabis Debate: Our experts give their verdict,” July 12] but nobody mentions education as part of the way forward.

For decades, in fact for more than a century, we have lived with the basic information — propaganda — that all drugs are bad, even though alcohol, tea, coffee and aspirin are all legal and acceptable.

In the Seventies the World Health Organisation defined a drug as a substance that always has the same effect on all people — aspirin will relieve pain and inflammation — where more has to be used to achieve the same effect after long-term use. I don’t believe cannabis complies with these two aspects.

After a four-year sentence for smuggling in 1973 and a lifetime of defending cannabis, I am thrilled that finally the law is potentially about to change. But we need to define and guide the new direction with great care. Education is an essential part of this.
Diane Skidmore


Dear Diane

Education is vital for any country seeking to regulate and legalise cannabis. In Canada, where they legalised recreational cannabis for adult use in October, they set aside more than $100 million over six years for a public education campaign to help Canadians understand the health and safety facts of its use.

As we published on July 3, [“Legal cannabis: safer for children or raising their risk of psychosis?”], the minister responsible for delivering the Cannabis Act in Canada said that legalisation has meant they can have an honest public conversation about cannabis harms and benefits for the first time.

It will be important to see what impact education has in Canada, with data on fatal car accidents and A&E admissions keenly awaited. But the litmus test is whether education can ensure that despite legalisation and wider availability, there is no rise in juvenile cannabis use.

David Cohen, Investigations Editor

Help us defend EU citizens’ rights

I am one of the many London-based EU citizens who were denied a vote in the last European Parliament elections in the UK — the most important individual right to democratic participation. I have lived in London for 19 years and I am worried about the current contempt for democratic processes.

From Tower Hamlets to Twickenham, in the polling booths we found ourselves ignored, tied up in red tape, bullied, scorned and treated like second-class citizens. It’s outrageous that the incompetence and unwillingness of the Government and the Electoral Commission have denied us a vote and a voice in determining our future. That is why we say enough is enough. We at the3million have launched an investigation into this democratic disaster that has disenfranchised thousands of EU citizens. We have launched a crowdfunder for our legal case. That’s why I urge you to support the3million’s legal case at London and its EU citizens — all 3.6 million of us in the UK — deserve better.
Francisca Oxley

E-scooters: safety must be a priority

I’ve been following the comments your editors and readers have made on e-scooters with interest, primarily as a pedestrian but also as the incubator of a small human, and in both capacities deeply interested in air quality and road safety.

The consensus appears to be that cars are more harmful to more people but e-scooters are a potential threat and safety needs to be legislated for urgently.

I note that the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is pursuing a policy to lower the speed limit for cars on certain TfL roads to 20mph. Perhaps this should be extended to all London roads and to e-scooters. One rule for all motorised transport seems fair.
Mary Johnstone

Turing is right for the new £50 note

Without doubt, putting the face of Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing on the new £50 note is the correct decision. Even allowing for satire, some of the other suggestions I noticed were bizarre and should not have seen the light of day.

However, none of this should detract from the grave injustice Turing suffered all those years ago, when our almost medieval laws vilified members of the gay community. We must remember those dark days and ensure that we never regress even slightly.
Robert Boston