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Super Cannabis Myth

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Another "prophylactic lie" debunked by University of London researchers

SCARE stories claiming the cannabis sold on London's streets is 20 times as strong as its equivalents ten years ago have been rubbished by an authoritative new study conducted by researchers at King College London. Among those previously endorsing the "super skunk cannabis" scare had been several Kings College psychiatrists

In this study the researchers analyzed samples of cannabis seized by police and found that the strength was the same as when similar analyses were conducted a decade ago.

Lurid tales of super-strength "skunk" cannabis being responsible for, among other things, a sharp rise in cases of mental illness, dominated headlines a few months ago and calls were made by politicians to upgrade cannabis from a Class C to Class B drug. The latter carrying more severe legal penalties for users caught by the authorities. Serious researchers, including those at the Centre for Duncanian Studies, had responded to these reports by expressing doubts that cannabis potency had actually changed and arguing that it was an irrelevant issue in any case since cannabis smokers titrate their dose -- stopping when they reach the level of intoxication they desire.

It is the case that some samples of cannabis were much more potent than others, but the researchers found only four per cent of the samples had "super-skunk" levels of strength and that even then, they were not as powerful as previously reported. Much the same appears to have been true of cannabis sold in the UK in the past.

The new survey is likely to be used as evidence by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which is due to report to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on the possible upgrading of cannabis offenses next year.

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A constituent institution of the University of London, King's College London is the fourth oldest university in England with more than 13,700 undergraduates and nearly 5,600 graduate students in nine schools of study based at five London campuses. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.