It'll Never Fly: Cannabis

Take a few dried cannabis leaves, roll them up in a tube of paper, set it alight and, if you're not Bill Clinton, inhale the smoke.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

This will turn you into a giggling lunatic. Later, you'll be lethargic, boring, paranoid and possibly fat (think of all those trips to the 24-hour garage). And, according to recent research, if you continue with the 'erb, your brain will shrink by 12%. But cannabis is a growing business: the UK trade is worth an estimated £5bn. There's a clue to its popularity in those counter-cultural T-shirts declaring 'The Pope smokes dope'. We're sure he doesn't. But the holy herb has a longstanding association with religious experience: from the ancient Scythians to modern Rastafarians, it has provided a heavenly high. It has been a controlled substance here since 1928, yet 44% of 16- to 29-year-olds have tried it. Could cannabis now be - to paraphrase Marx - the religion of the masses? Cannabis may relieve pain in glaucoma sufferers and lessen symptoms in 90% of people with MS, but The Lancet says it also makes you 40% more susceptible to psychotic illness. More than 13,000 UK adults are now undergoing treatment for cannabis abuse. Worries about new, stronger strains of 'super skunk' mean that it will be reclassified next year. Even ignoring the issue of legality, the career-minded should beware: weed destroys ambition. If Alexander the Great had tried conquering the known world on weed, he'd have been paralysed by fits of the giggles before he had set foot outside Macedonia.

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