Of all illegal drugs, cannabis seems supply the majority of contraversy. Regardless of one's opinions on the drug, it is obvious that many people struggle every day with addiction to marijuana and that there are significant health risks involved in it's use.Cannabis is one of the most controversial drugs in the world. It's legal in some countries; banned in others. It's considered recreational by some, and yet highly dangerous by others. The classification of cannabis in this country is constantly up for debate - some believe it should be regulated, and some that it should be prescribed. If there's one thing to say about cannabis, it's that no one can agree on its merits or dangers. It might just be the most divisive drug in the world.
Chris Simonite, however, a former drug addict from Nottingham, is speaking out about the dangers. Using his addiction to advise others about theirs, Chris is now a counsellor for Trust the Process, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation project.
After first trying cannabis at 14 years old, Chris soon became a regular user: 'After 16 I started doing it recreationally with friends and the effects of it were taking hold of me.' Indeed, the average age of first use is around 13 years old, and teenagers tend to binge in order to achieve the maximum effect. Cannabis bingers can build up a resistance to the drug, so users may seek extra highs from other substances.
Chris explains that he was no exception: 'More drugs were introduced...somebody would say: 'I've got cocaine, I've got ecstasy, I've got acid' and so then you start to try additional drugs.'
Chris talks of how he was 'constantly stoned' and smoking around an ounce of cannabis a week. It helped Chris to mask emotional issues, namely his social anxiety. As time went on however, Chris realised that 'those issues became bigger because they were unresolved.'
Not only did Chris suffer from psychological problems, which included having hallucinations and hearing voices, but he had to have 75% of his right lung removed. After developing bullous disease because of his addiction, it was a choice between life and death.
Like many people who smoke cannabis recreationally, Chris 'thought that cannabis was harmless.' Unfortunately, he says, 'It was only years after that I realised it had a major impact.'
It seems the dangers of cannabis are still refuted by many. Even the government's decision to upgrade cannabis to a class B drug in 2008 was widely criticised at the time. Experts stated that cannabis was not harmful enough to be considered a class B drug; the government claimed that its harmfulness should be considered societaly, and not just physically.
Whether cannabis should be legalised, regulated or banned is a difficult topic for many. But the fact remains that addicts like Chris show the dangers of cannabis are evident.