Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Support for families

We have had hundreds of families write to us since the publication of 'The Cannabis Diaries', most saying that they urgently need support. So, in response we are setting up Telephone Support Workshops. Free taster sessions are being held this coming week - they last 90 minutes and give families a chance to share their experiences and, quite simply, to talk about cannabis. There are two workshops you can join, all you pay for is the cost of the call, which is minimal. Chaired by TAC, the idea of the sessions is mutual understanding through mutual experience. They take the form of conference calls. It is easy to join, and you don't even have to leave home, and you can be anywhere in the world. One of our parents is living in in Spain but will be joining the conversation. Although the names and location of families is different there is one common factor that links us all - the use of cannabis among teens and 'tweens'(ages 10 - 13). We can support one another and learn from one another. The sessions are being held on Monday 22 March at 6.30 and Saturday 27 March at 10 am. You can email us to book your free place: debra@talkingaboutcannabis.com.

Our six week course of workshops will begin proper in April, and will include guest speakers. We shall all meet for a networking session in the Summer term. We look forward to talking about cannabis with you.
Best wishes Debra Bell

Monday, 8 March 2010

Robbie Williams' love of Cannabis

Robbie Williams - 'cannabis is a lovely, lovely drug' - Radio Times interview 8 March 2010

We’ve just heard that Robbie Williams has been quoted as saying that cannabis is a ‘lovely, lovely drug’. It is depressing that someone in the public eye should be saying this. He is very well known in the pop industry, a celebrity who has been around a long time. He has only recently won a life-time achievement award at the Brits. Is he not aware of the problems many of our young people have with cannabis in the UK? We don’t expect musicians to be squeaky-clean of course. And there is a tradition here. In the 60s musicians such as the Beatles and Rolling Stones all voiced their belief that cannabis should be legalised, and the slow march towards liberalisation of illegal drugs began.

Cannabis has always been seen as far less harmful than any of the other drugs controlled by the Misuse of Drug Act. But, the cannabis of today is not the same stuff smoked back then. And that has caused a lot of confusion, especially to families. I'm not sure what type of cannabis Robbie Williams is smoking - it may well be herbal cannabis, which contains only around 1 per cent THC (the stuff that gets you high), or even resin which contains around 4-5 per cent. But both of those varieties are hardly available today. Most of the stuff our young people are buying is 'skunk' cannabis, which can contain as much as 16 per cent plus THC, and, importantly, virtually no CBD (the other main chemical in herbal and resin cannabis that we now know may act as an anti-psychotic on the body.)

We have one of the biggest drugs problems in Western Europe, and it is mainly young people and even children who are being affected. The age of starting is going down, with reports of children as young as 10 coming before magistrates for criminal activity connected with a drug habit. As Professor Murray from the Institute of Psychiatry said recently ‘We are awash with mental health problems’, and he went on to say that ‘it is crystal clear that people with schizophrenia use more cannabis than the general population’. I don't know if Robbie is aware of the latest research to come out of the IoP. Just before Christmas 09, studies were published showing that skunk users were 7 more likely to become psychotic (including schizophrenic), by using skunk cannabis than from the older style stuff. As the trial in one of the biggest heist in skunk cannabis ever seen comes to an end this week, we need to be aware that Britain has become a major selling ground for criminal gangs who are importing the stuff from abroad, and also cultivating the drug here in massive quantities.

Many young teenagers who are beginning to be daily cannabis smokers are not aware that it even is a drug, and few have any idea as to the hazards. Some have little idea that it is even illegal and Robbie's comment won't help disabuse them of this. The fact is that skunk use in childhood and adolescence is highly dangerous. 1 in 4 of us carries a faulty gene which, when activated by cannabis, can plunge the young into the nightmare of addiction and brain damage. Few youngsters who use skunk cannabis will fulfill their potential, at worst they can face a life dogged by mental health illness. For every child who begins to be affected by cannabis use there is the family in the background, including innocent siblings, who are all affected too.

Since the serialisation of 'The Cannabis Diaries' in the national press last month, I have had a flood of emails and calls from miserable families all of whom have said that our story is also theirs. One mother of a 13 year old addict has termed her ten year old daughter 'a cannabis orphan', because of the time she has spent concentrating on helping her son. She is worried her daughter will never forgive her for the neglect, or worse, will seek out partners who are also addicts, in later life. Let's stop glamorising drugs, it's time we all grew up and started to take our responsibilities as adults seriously. The children of our country are all our children; let's look after them properly and help protect them from dangerous, illegal drugs. There is no fool-proof cure for addiction, and I would have thought that even Robbie would know that.

Friday, 19 February 2010


If you have followed the online Diary about our family you will know that we bought a puppy, Lily, a blue roan cocker spaniel, three years ago. Things were not good for us all back then and we thought a puppy might help and she really has helped us all heal - including Will who is now back home and has been for over 6 months. It is her birthday this weekend, and so I'd like to say thanks to her for the part she's played in our lives. You don't have to live with a broken heart.
With love

Friday, 5 February 2010

The Cannabis Diaries

The book of the online diaries written for the website Talking About Cannabis, www.talkingaboutcannabis.com comes out on 2 March 2010. Published by Hammersmith Press, it looks like the Daily Mail will begin serialisation tomorrow Saturday 6 Feb, so things are looking very exciting. Called simply 'The Cannabis Diaries - a mother's struggle to save her family', it has a practical appendix by Dr Zerrin Atakan, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

I've just begun writing this new blog,having finished the second part of the Diaries, posted on the TAC website throughout 2009. Our eldest son Will, about whom I began writing the online diary, has almost finished the plumbing course he has been doing since September and just this week has found work as an apprentice, part-time, while he completes the qualification. We are delighted, and wish him well. He has been back home for 6 months now, and the future is looking brighter than we ever believed possible. It's a beautiful day in London, really looks like spring is around the corner finally. I've just found out how to Twitter too, so shall be doing that too regularly! My user name is debrabellcan for both the blog and twitter.

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