HC Deb 28 July 1967 vol 751 cc1148-65

11.7 a.m.

Mr. H. P. G. Channon (Southend, West)

I want to add to the words of thanks expressed to you, Mr. Speaker, my personal gratitude for allowing me to raise this subject as our first Adjournment debate. I am grateful also to the Minister of State, Home Office, for being present, and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), who has such knowledge and expertise in this question of young people and the use of drugs.

A few weeks ago the Home Secretary said that it was sometimes a mistake to talk too much about this matter and that it was a question where action was much more important than words. I share his view. Nevertheless, there are occasions when it is impossible for us to avoid talking about these difficult problems.

All sections of the House will agree that there is now abundant evidence that in the past few years there has been a vast increase in the use of drugs of all kinds in this country, and in particular by young people. I do not know whether the Minister of State can give us some statistics about that. Our first aim should be to stop the increase in the number—which, thank God, is still quite small—of people who are becoming addicted to the hard drugs—cocaine, heroin and morphine. I do not wish to talk about this today; I wish to deal with the soft drugs. It is often said that the use of soft drugs leads to hard drugs; and the Press widely report the Recorder of Birmingham this morning as having said this yesterday. Perhaps the Minister of State will be able to comment on that.

No hon. Member has not at some time taken a soft drug, which can be something as minor as caffeine or tea, and few have not taken alcohol or nicotine at some time. These are the softest drugs, which are not socially unacceptable in this country. The next range of drugs is that of the amphetamines and barbiturates, which are all right when prescribed by doctors, but extremely dangerous if used by unauthorised people. Many people think that there are still too many prescriptions for these and too wide a medical use, but the latter is dropping, although the illegal use is still increasing.

It cannot be stressed too hard how dangerous is the use of large quantities of amphetamines and barbiturates. There was a tragic case the other day in Hertfordshire, which hon. Members may have noted. A heavy responsibility rests on the manufacturers of these drugs to make sure that their safety precautions in the factories are good—I must say that I have generally been impressed by them. Perhaps the right hon. Lady can say something about precautions in chemists' shops where thefts of these drugs so often take place.

Another set of drugs which are increasingly used by young people are the so-called hallucinogens, of which the best known is L.S.D., but there is also S.T.P. and D.M.T. The right hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) has given some evidence about the effects of some of these drugs on him, but I hope that there will be no prosecution of the right hon. Member. L.S.D. has been known for over 30 years I am informed by Members of the medical profession—I hope that the right hon. Lady will confirm this—that there is no doubt that this drug is most unsafe except under supervision. We will face a great problem over this drug, which is extremely difficult to detect, being odourless, colourless and taken in only minute quantities There is no case for a change in the law with regard to hallucinogens, but the law will be difficult to enforce.

Much the most difficult and controversial topic at the moment is the use of cannabis or marijuana by young people. This is where the law is most widely flouted. I would like hon. Members to ask themselves, first, why these drugs are taken. In every generation there is a wish to rebel, first of all, against the standards of the previous generation. There is something of that in the use of cannabis. Young people still have too little realisation of the dangers of all drugs. I was glad to see that the Secretary of State for Education and Science is to launch a bigger programme on that in schools.

Above all, however, there is a feeling that those who are a little older are hypocritical, particularly about cannabis. Young people consider, rightly or wrongly, that they are persecuted for a harmless pleasure, while adults freely use nicotine, which probably leads to cancer, and alcohol, and we all know tragic cases of alcoholism. Young people also feel that it is hypocritical for the State to make vast sums of money, particularly out of tobacco, and that the State's moral values are wrong. I do not defend or condone this attitude, but it is understandable.

Cannabis is the mildest form of hallucinogen, though I do not want to get involved in the details, because they are difficult for a layman. There is still far too little information about this, as about all other soft drugs. It is known as hashish, marijuana and "pot", as well as cannabis, and its use is now widespread in many parts of the world, including the United States and this country. Recent articles in Life and Newsweek show how widespread its use has become in the United States, and it is likely to spread here, I fear.

Everyone in this field agrees that cannabis is a mild intoxicant and non-addictive. The Braine Committee set up a few years also said so. It breaks down inhibitions and causes, as Dr. Stafford Clark said in his distinguished articles in The Times a few weeks ago, "talkative elation". It is possible to create an emotional dependence on cannabis, but there is no physical dependence. However, divergent views are strongly held about this drug.

A most important argument, which a very distinguished doctor told me yesterday is that there is no doubt that there is escalation from cannabis to heroin. The Recorder of Birmingham said yesterday: In the City of Birmingham, of the 70 registered addicts, 69 started by using cannabis or marijuana. The question which the House ought to ask is, is this cause and effect? Those who take a different view from the Recorder will point out that, although a large proportion of heroin addicts have taken cannabis in their lives, an equally large number have taken alcohol and caffeine and a great many other things. The question which should concern us is whether there is any cause and effect here.

Those who believe that cannabis is dangerous consider that there is a progression. There is also some mixed evidence abroad of some cases of insanity after prolonged cannabis smoking, but this has also been caused by alcoholic conditions. Some say that, if society let up on the smoking of cannabis, this would destroy the barrier in young people's minds between taking a drug and not—that the step from cannabis to something worse would be morally much less great if the use of cannabis was made legal.

On the other hand, those who take a different view claim that there is no physical harm in the use of cannabis, especially when our society allows the use of alcohol and tobacco, and that putting cannabis in the same category for punishment—as it is at the moment—as the hard drugs like heroin leads young people who take the drug into the environment of the "pushers" and those who take hard drugs, which is likely to inflate the problem and to put more young people at risk than otherwise.

They will also argue that, as a result of the law at the moment, the drug squad and those interested in this matter are diverted from their real task of catching the more dangerous drugs by having to give so much attention to the problem of cannabis. I ask the Minister of State, if she is in a position to say—I dare say that she is not in a position to do so today—what evidence there is of cause and effect and whether cannabis leads on to heroin, because that seems to me to be the crucial point. I am not in a position to express a view of the matter. All I would say is that there are known to be about 1,400 heroin addicts in this country —perhaps the Minister of State will confirm that—and no doubt ther are a large number of illegal heroin addicts, too. That is still a small number, but I fear that hon. Members and people outside have yet to realise just how widespread the use of marijuana is becoming.

I have to telescope my arguments, because I do not want to take up too much time, but if we are to avoid an even worse social problem than that which exists today, it is essential for there to be far more research into the subject. This is not a situation for which the Government are entirely to blame, but a criticism which I level against them is that they have allowed the problem to grow until we are at a dangerous state, while the basic research still has not been evaluated and the Home Office and the Ministry of Health have allowed the situation to drift.

We also need far more money spent and far more research conducted on education and on teaching young people about the dangers of drugs and, in particular, the dangers of drug addiction. Perhaps the Minister of State will tell us what her right hon. Friend intends to do about it in the schools.

The argument has come to a head in recent months because there is no doubt that the number of young people smoking cannabis has increased. It was also brought to a head by an advertisement in The Times this week in which it was alleged by many distinguished people, including medical people, that the law against cannabis at the moment is "immoral in principle and unworkable in practice."

With the latter half of that statement I am beginning to agree. I think that the law is becoming increasingly unworkable in practice. I do not know whether the House realises how many respectable young people indulge in the practice. I am not talking about the lower strata, the people who are so distressed that they have no other form of relief than marijuana. I fear that there are large numbers of respectable people with good jobs, or students, who are taking the drugs, and they represent an intelligent section of our society. For them, repression is not enough. They must be convinced as well as repressed, if repression is the right step.

I propose to ask the Minister some questions, about most of which I have given notice. I understand that a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence is studying the whole question of soft drugs. May I hope that that sub-committee will deal with cannabis? Can the Minister of State tell me when that sub-committee is likely to report? Has she considered the point which I put to her right hon. Friend the Home Secretary some time ago: although this is a very distinguished sub-committee and although I would respect its judgment, does she think that young people will respect its judgment? Or would it not be better to have a few more young people on the sub-committee?

What is essential as a result of this sub-committee's findings, whatever they may be, is that young people should be convinced of the truth of the findings and the honesty of its approach to the matter. I also urge that this inquiry should be public. There is no reason whatever why the inquiry should be carried out in secret, unless some person wishes to give evidence to the sub-committee in secret, when the sub-committee could exercise its discretion. But the whole point about the sub-committee is that the public have to be convinced one way or the other about the danger or lack of danger in cannabis. I hope that the Minister of State will ensure the widest publicity for its findings.

I want to make it clear that I do not come here today to ask for cannabis to be legalised. What I want is that the evidence should be obtained on which a balanced judgment can be formed, and then we shall know where the truth lies, because people must be convinced at the end of the day one way or the other. I hope that this is a meaningful research project—I think it is—and that at the end of the day people will be able to decide one way or the other.

May I put a point for consideration by the Government: do they consider it essential for marijuana to be on the same list under the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1965 as the more dangerous drugs, such as heroin and the hard drugs? At the moment it is possible to receive a sentence of ten years' imprisonment for being in possession of cannabis. It is precisely the same sentence as that for heroin, and yet I cannot believe that any hon. Member does not draw a big distinction between those two categories. I think that I am right in saying that the penalties for possessing cannabis are more severe than those for possessing L.S.D. If that is so, perhaps the Minister will tell us. It is hard to believe that it can be right. I have also been informed—I admit that my information is second hand, and I ask the Minister to check it—that there have been several cases—I can think of two—in which, for the first offence of being in possession of the drug, people have been sentenced to imprisonment of up to a year. Does the House think that wise?

I want to see the problem solved, because I am certain that young people will go on using the drug unless they can be convinced intellectually that it has the dangers which it is widely believed to possess. I am told that we have the mildest kind of marijuana in Britain and that there is a grave danger in the future that we shall have adulterated marijuana, maybe mixed with heroin or opium, if this situation is allowed to slide much longer.

I very much doubt whether the law is the best way to control human behaviour of this kind. I believe that it must be inquired into, and I would see some advantages if it were possible to control the drug as alcohol is controlled—with far stricter control of those under 18 who take the drug. There will have to be far stricter control for example, of people who drive cars while under the influence of this drug.

What alarms me about this, as with so many social problems, is that it has been creeping up upon us for some time, almost unnoticed, until suddenly it has begun to snowball. The problem has reached a crucial point. Many people talk about the generation gap. That has always existed. Nevertheless, there is something in that argument today. I am sure that the gap between the generations is greater than it was ten years ago, because I find that so many young people suspect our generation of hyprocrisy.

Apathy is the worst solution to the problem. I urge the Minister of State to press ahead with the inquiry to convince the public one way or the other of the truth about the drug and to make funds available for widespread research. We are at the turning of the ways on this issue. I want to play it down rather than to play it up, and I do not think that a debate of this kind is necessarily any good, but debates of this kind must take place. I recognise that the Government have great international difficulties in the matter and that we have signed conventions, but it is no longer good enough to let the problem drift. We require urgent public action, and action which will convince young people. Only if we do all these things shall we avoid a social problem which will become far worse than it is today.

11.30 a.m.

Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)

I shall speak only briefly, in order to allow time to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to answer the debate, and to any other hon. Member who may wish to speak. The debate will have been of great use if it leads to the further research and action, which the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) suggested, and I congratulate him on having raised this hotly topical subject.

He referred to the advertisement in The Times of last Monday. I was one of the only two Members of this House who signed it, and I would not have done so if I had not been in general agreement with what was said—not necessarily with every word—and if I had not wanted to check the use of what the hon. Member has called hard drugs, such as heroin, which can do immense damage, physical and mental.

The real point, as he said, is this alleged escalation. Does the use of cannabis lead on to the use of heroin? My conversations with doctors who have specialised in treating addicts leads me to a somewhat contrary view to that expressed by the doctor to whom the hon. Member spoke. The most expert doctor with whom I have discussed this subject gave me the opinion that only 12 per cent. to 15 per cent. of the hard drug addicts who came for treatment for heroin addiction had started on cannabis. There is also a clear logical defect in the escalation argument, which the hon. Member pointed out very well and which, therefore, I need not labour.

One other point that may be made about this escalation—which may even seem to some to justify that charge—is that the same underground pushers, the commercial pushers, of these drugs sell both the soft one, cannabis, and the harder, addictive drug, heroin. They are naturally anxious to get their victims on to the harder drug, which is more profitable to them. These are the people whom I hope the Home Department will be able to drive out of business. So long as there is no difference in status between cannabis and heroin, it will be that much more difficult to prevent them from leading people to the harder drugs when they have got used to the relatively non-addictive marijuana.

There have been criticisms of the advertisement in The Times, but I do not think that people such as Dr. Stafford-Clark, Dr. Anthony Storr, and other doctors and scientists, including two Nobel prizewinners would have signed if this had been a completely irresponsible thing to do.

It is very easy to blame drugs for outbreaks of violence, or various other evils in society, the real root causes of which have not been sufficiently analysed or determined. As long ago as the 1890s, there was an official investigation in India, known as the Hemp Drugs Commission. One of the witnesses happened to be my own father, who was a senior official there at the time. He pointed out that when violently insane people were sent to the police, the police had to fill in a form giving the cause of their condition. He said: The cause is a point they have to inquire into.…The policeman must, therefore, look out for a cause. The readiest is ganja— which is another form of the same drug. The safest thing to say is 'ganja'. The police know that no further enquiry will be made, so they stick it down. Having heard a great deal of evidence of all kinds the Commission came to the conclusion that these drugs, which include the one that we are talking about, were practically harmless. In regard to the physical effects the Report said: The Commission have come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs is practically attended by no evil results at all.—There is probably nothing the use of which may not possibly be injurious in cases of exceptional intolerance…the moderate use of hemp drugs appears to cause no appreciable physical injury of any kind…it produces no injurious effects on the mind…it produces no moral injury whatever. The Report goes on to reiterate what seemed to the Commission a proven fact. But there is much more recent evidence than that—given in that advertisement in The Times of last Monday. Attempts have been made to suggest that the use of the quotations in the advertisement was unduly selective, but it would have been impossible to publish everything said about the drugs; and there is one particularly telling extract from Doctor J. H. Jaffe, whose Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics (third edition, 1965) is a textbook respected by all medical opinion. He says: There are no lasting ill-effects from the acute use of marijuana and no fatalities have ever been recorded.…The causal relationship between marijuana smoking and heroin addiction has never been substantiated. That is all that I have to say. I am grateful to have had the time in which to say it.

11.38 a.m.

Mr. Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

The hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) has served a very useful purpose in raising this difficult and topical subject today. I find myself in a large measure of agreement with the aims of this Committee, about which the general public do not know very much should be given some advertisement. It is called the Sub-Committee of the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence, and the Home Department has announced that it is currently studying the pharmacological, legal and social aspects of problems associated with soft drugs. As the hon. Member has asked, does that include cannabis?

We should also like to know when this Committee started to discuss the problem of cannabis, how often it meets and when it is likely to report. Who is sitting on it? Whose opinions are we to be asked to accept on this? It is a vitally important thing that whatever this Committee reports should be accepted by the general public, particularly by the younger generation. It is no use using Victorian language hoping to convince the younger generation. Legally marijuana is now classified as a narcotic along with heroin and morphine.

This is where we want some of the hard scientific information. We want to know whether scientific evidence supports that classification. Some experts say that marijuana does not result in physical addiction. I remember being asked to see one of my constituents, a young woman imprisoned in Holloway for her first offence in connection with marijuana. She was most insistent that she was not an addict and saw nothing wrong in indulging in this practice. She seemed to be quite a normal person, and I believe that quite a number of marijuana smokers are fairly normal and that this cannot be regarded as a seriously corrupting influence on the general public. When deprived of marijuana, they do not suffer the intense craving of the morphine or the heroin addict, nor do they have to step up the dose in order to reach the earlier effect.

We look forward this morning to the fullest possible statement from my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and some reassurance on the arguable proposition that marijuana is not as harmful as some people say. That aspect should be investigated with the utmost dispatch, and a really convincing report issued as soon as possible.

11.40 a.m.

Mr. W. F. Deedes (Ashford)

The House will be grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) for raising this subject, thus giving the right hon. Lady the Minister of State the opportunity to make a statement on some of the matters he raised. At this stage, I do not wish to add anything very positive to the subject: the longer I apply myself to it, the less assertive I find I become.

My hon. Friend made some remarks about the amphetamines. I personally remain of the view that the misuse of the amphetamines, among the young in particular, is still a very serious and certainly not a diminishing problem. How else can it be when we know that last year in London 665,000 amphetamine tablets were stolen, 880 prescription forms were forged and 500 blank prescription forms were stolen? That gives some indication of the nature of the problem.

I am glad that both the Home Office and the British Medical Association are conducting inquiries into this subject, and I only hope that those inquiries will be deep enough to examine the social and medical reasons for our staggering need of barbiturates and amphetamines. About 6 million prescriptions were issued for barbiturates in the last six months, and 3 million prescriptions for amphetamines.

My hon. Friend dwelt largely on the growing controversy about and increasing use of marijuana. The right hon. Lady knows that a Sub-Committee of the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence is doing urgent work, on which, of course, I must make no comment. My hon. Friend is quite right to say that it is important that we should not only find the right answer, but that in presenting the answer we should carry conviction with young people.

Speaking generally on the subject, I share my hon. Friend's regret that we have delayed for, I think, too long the intensive research which is now beginning. We have been very slow, and although we are not the only country to have been slow it is, in a sense, to be deplored. My hon. Friends says that far too little is known about marijuana, but we certainly do not lack material. The literature on this drug is massive, running into thousands of articles in medical and technical journals. What we lack is analysis of the material and of experience here and in other countries. It is urgent to fill in these gaps in our knowledge of the nature of the drug's use—occasional, periodic and habitual—and, in particular, its relationship to aggressive behaviour and crime. We need to know more about its relationship to other drugs and, I must add, the extent to which it is in all countries, to some extent, an immigrant problem, because that is undoubtedly part of the true. But I must warn my hon. Friend that we may not find a final solution or, at least, an acceptable final solution.

This is a much more complex problem than some of the more facile advocates suggest. As an example, the cannabis plant provides flower tops or leaves which provide marijuana as we know it. These may vary in potency according to the climate in which they grow. The plant also provides a resin, which is hashish. There are 7 million Egyptians addicted to hashish, and the Egyptian Government are at their wits' end to know what to do about it.

Does anyone believe that if we were to end the black market in cannabis leaf by legalising it a black market in the resin would not begin? That could undermine the nation. That is why I believe that those who sign public announcements assume very grave responsibilities unless they can back what they do with more knowledge than most of us think we have. At this stage, the Government would be totally irresponsible, they would be mad, to release this drug from strict control. Even if they themselves wished to do so, of course, they could not do it at present because of international obligations.

The penalties under the Act want watching. The law is right, but the courts lack experience in implementing it. I hope that the right hon. Lady will refer to that side of the problem. The courts could be helped by more guidance. I join my hon. Friend in his quest for knowlede and wait with interest to hear what the right hon. Lady has to say.

11.46 a.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Miss Alice Bacon)

We have had several debates in the last few months on drugs, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) is right in saying that the more we talk about them the more we realise how much we do not know. The hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) laid stress on the use of drugs by young people, and it is important to do this because the evidence is that they are the core of the problem. The menace to them is real, not theoretical.

The young experimenter with drugs may very quickly became a casualty. Last year, a heroin addict came to notice aged only 14, and 111 others were less than 18 years of age. Many young people who have been admitted recently to remand homes, approved schools, Borstals and detention centres have a history of drug taking. The proportion is about 1 in 5, and it seems to be rising. The right hon. Gentleman said that perhaps the Government were slow in taking action, but as he and I think everyone else know this problem has hit us later than it has other countries.

The debate has been principally about the soft drugs, and particularly about cannabis. The Government share the general concern about the misuse of pep pills, L.S.D. and cannabis, and have already taken certain steps. The drug L.S.D. was brought under the control of the 1964 Act last year, and we have made urgent inquiries of the United States authorities about S.T.P., which drug has not yet been placed under control in America.

Preliminary information suggests that the chemical structure of S.T.P. detected by the American authorities does not automatically bring it within the scope of the 1964 Act. The Government Chemist is at present urgently examining a single tablet of this drug which was sent to the Home Office last week. When we have his report, we shall give urgent consideration to the need to bring S.T.P. under control.

In another place, provisions have been added to the Dangerous Drugs Bill to strengthen the Home Secretary's powers to impose requirements for the safe custody of soft as well as of hard drugs.

Prosecutions under the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act were 1,003 in 1965 and 1,216 in 1966. There were 721 prosecutions in the first four months of 1967, which makes it seem likely that there will be a very great increase in prosecutions under this Act in 1967 as a whole. The number of convictions for offences connected with cannabis were 554 in 1964, and in 1966 the number had gone up to 1,119. In the first four months of 1967 there were 530 convictions which, again, shows that the figures for 1967 as a whole are likely to be much higher than those for 1966.

The Government recognise that there is controversy about the dangers of cannabis. This drug was scheduled under the International Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961, to which the Government are a party. Strict control is applied to the drug by our Dangerous Drugs Act, which reflects the requirements of the Convention. Most of those requirements have been part of the dangerous drugs law here since the drug was placed under international control in 1928. The law allows for medical and scientific use, but there is virtually no such use for the drug in this country at present.

The law was strengthened in 1964 when it was made an offence to permit premises to be used for smoking cannabis and an offence intentionally to cultivate the cannabis plant. Cannabis smoking in this country became extensive only recently. It seems to have spread throughout Western Europe. Opinion seems to be divided about its dangers. This may be because its potency varies with the area in which it is produced and the personality of the user. Our law puts the drug under the same restrictions as heroin because it is treated like this in the International Convention.

It has been asked this morning, is it right to retain the present restrictions? The World Health Organisation, the Permanent Central Narcotics Board and the United Nations Narcotics Commission all consider this drug harmful to society and that international control should be maintained. Since it is now banned in almost every country it could not be freed without international consequences. We have also to realise that the potency of cannabis varies, but is it likely that young people who find it a pleasurable drug will discriminate between the less and the more potent? If they start on the less harmful, will there not be a demand for the "hard stuff" and traffic in it?

I have been asked this morning about the Committee which is sitting. The Home Secretary and the Minister of Health set up the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence, of which the right hon. Member for Ashford is a member. That Committee has set up a sub-committee on L.S.D. and cannabis. I have been asked if the sub-committee could sit in public. It would be entirely inappropriate for a committee of this kind to sit in public and to hear evidence in public. Apart from all other things, I think the meetings of the committee, particularly in regard to the evidence, would be used as a theatrical performance by some people who were required to give evidence. I assure the hon. Member for Southend, West, that on the committee a wide body of opinion is represented. One of the members of the Committee signed the advertisement which appeared in The Times.

Mr. Driberg

Hear, hear.

Miss Bacon

My hon. Friend says "Hear, hear." I make no comment on that, but mention it in passing to show that there is a wide body of opinion.

Mr. Lipton rose

Miss Bacon

I have only a few minutes and cannot give way.

Views have been given this morning about cannabis. It would be entirely mad for the Government to relax the laws without more information. We want more information to be obtained by the committee. It has been said in this morning's newspapers that in Birmingham a great many people who take heroin started with cannabis. Ninety-seven per cent. of the heroin addicts known to the Home Office have a previous history of cannabis taking.

Mr. Driberg

And of alcohol.

Miss Bacon

The Government would be mad, quite apart from the International Conventions of which we are a part, to relax these restrictions.

The Government are aware of the need for research and a new research unit has been established by the Minister of Health. An extensive inquiry is being arranged into the extent of drug addiction and abuse among those sent to prisons, borstals and remand centres. Other research projects are also in hand. The Advisory Committee on Drugs has already begun discussing with the Medical Research Council what is needed over the whole field.

I believe that at present we are in danger in this country—I am not speaking only of cannabis but also of some other drugs which have been mentioned, particularly L.S.D.—of some people misleading young people by not only taking drugs themselves, but trying to influence the minds of young people and trying to encourage them to take drugs. I do not often read the magazine the Queen, but I was at the hairdresser's yesterday. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] This magazine was passed to me to while away the time when I was under the hair drier. There is a very long article in it called "The Love Generation" with statements by various people who are pop singers and managers of pop groups. I was horrified at some of the things I read in it. For instance, Paul McCartney says among other things: God is in everything. God is in the space between us. God is in that table in front of you. God is everything and everywhere and everyone. It just happens that I realised all this through acid (L.S.D.), but it could have been through anything. It really does not matter how I made it.…The final result is all that counts.

Mr. Channon

Is the right hon. Lady quoting prominent people in favour of drug taking? It is terribly dangerous to quote people like that when we are against drug taking.

Mr. Driberg

He is a very good man.

Miss Bacon

I am illustrating the argument. The hon. Member raised this question this morning and, running through his speech, I thought I detected a sort of feeling that we should relax on cannabis. Maybe I am wrong, but if he does not want any publicity to be given at all, this debate should not have taken place this morning.

The manager of the Beatles said in this article that there is a new mood in the country and: This new mood has originated from hallucinatory drugs and I am wholeheartedly on its side. The only person with any sense at all quoted in the article seems to be a little pop singer called Lulu, who said: People talk about this love—love—love thing as if you had to be on drugs before you can be part of it. In fact, love is far older than pot and goes right back to Jesus. I'm a believer. This may sound amusing to hon. Members, but young people take quite seriously what pop stars say. What sort of society will we create if everyone wants to escape from reality?

Mr. Driberg

They want to escape from this horrible society we have created.

Miss Bacon

Today there are those who see in society's attitude to drug-taking the opportunity for questioning traditional values and social judgments of all kinds and for advocating aims and conduct going far beyond the "kicks" and pleasures of a few pills. For them drug-taking is a way—the way—of life to which they beckon the impressionable, the curious, the frustrated, and the demoralised. Insidiously or openly, wittingly or unwittingly, the young are being taught the paraphernalia of psychedelic experience, and the catch phrases of drug cults.

This seems to be the real challenge of soft drugs, and it is growing. The Government believe that it is time for responsible influences to check this trend. It is time to make clear that teenage drug-taking is ill-advised if not dangerous to personality and health. It is time to rebut the claim of those who profess to make mystics out of the immature. This is a challenge which all sections of society must take up. The Government are resolved to do their part.

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