Peter Hitchens regularly quotes the sorry tale of a friend’s son who allegedly developed psychosis as a result of cannabis use and Mary Brett, for example, uses similarly evocative images of the damage allegedly caused to users by their use of cannabis.
This use of examples to support their arguments to maintain (ludicrously in PH’s view to start) prohibition is very impactive as it utilises the power of characters (particularly children), scenarios and stories to gain support.
Whatever your views of the validity of their scientific, medical claims we cannot dispute the effectiveness of their appeal. The evidence is pretty clear that cannabis can cause harm, particularly to the young, but often only after either predisposition, excessive consumption or both. The evidence is also clear that cannabis can do a great deal of good for those suffering from a range of conditions where conventional medicine has either failed or caused debilitating side-effects or both.
We could argue this forever, as some participants in the debate will never change their minds whatever the strength of the evidence.
My suggestion is that those who seek drug policy reform, particularly in relation to cannabis, employ the same tactics as the prohibitionists and equip themselves with powerful images of vulnerable and/or unwell people whose lives have been transformed by the beneficial effects of controlled cannabis consumption.
Des Humphrey and others at NORML (http://norml-uk.org/) would be very happy to collate these stories. I and many others will be very happy to use them in our interactions with the media.
Sympathetic characters telling powerful stories of their struggles in difficult circumstances is a very powerful way of getting the message received and understood.