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UK – Cannabis Users Let Down as Class A Drugs Take Spotlight

Leading drugs experts are warning that cannabis users are being let down by services as there is far too much emphasis on getting help to people addicted to Class A substances.

In the UK cannabis is a Class B drug and carries a maximum prison sentence of 5 yrs for possession and up to 14yrs for supply and production; each offence also carries an unlimited fine.

Health officials say that there are properly funded services in place to help people who are addicted to cannabis but Doctor Adam Winstock, founder of the Global Drug Survey, thinks more could be done.

“We haven’t invested enough in helping people who use cannabis use more safely or stop” Winstock told BBC Newsbeat.

In the last 20yrs services have focused too much on treating heroin and crack cocaine addicts “because they’re the people the government sees as causing crime and disruption”, he says.

Cannabis use in the UK is falling but the number of people getting help is rising. In 2005 there were 3,328 18-24yr olds in England receiving treatment for cannabis use, by 2013/2014 this number rose to 4,997.

Experts within the field think this is due to fact that cannabis is getting stronger; users are more likely to notice and admit that they have a problem with the substance, than what they would have when cannabis was not as strong.

Lots of users do not see cannabis as harmful or as a physically addictive drug, like what cocaine and heroin is, which can lead to damaging subsequences.

50-60% of dependant users have serious withdrawal symptoms when they come off the substance, Dr Winstock told Newsbeat.

“People get confused with physical withdrawal symptoms and equating those to being addicted”

“About 10% of people who use cannabis are dependent and two thirds of those people, when they stop, will experience withdrawal symptoms.”

Source: Jim Connolly – Newsbeat

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