Readers' letters: Legalise cannabis so we can control it

The prevalence of various kinds of very strong cannabis in the illegal marketplace is a concern, as it is difficult, if not impossible to control it. Ever since cannabis use was made criminal in 1971, it has been getting stronger. Synthetic drugs mimicking its effects lead to users becoming zombies.

The problem is one which is very similar to Prohibition America in the twenties and thirties, when people sought oblivion in illegal hooch. In that case, the illegality of alcohol was an open goal to gangs who passed off wood alcohol as normal booze. It made people go blind.

The American authorities realised in the early thirties that you could not control the kind of alcohol that people consumed if it was illegal. If you made it legal and taxed it, then you could control it. The thinking was quite simple. Would anyone go to a shebeen to drink some moonshine which could kill or damage you if you could simply go the shop at the corner and buy beer or whisky which had been officially checked? The answer was simple and booze came back.

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When cannabis is illegal it simply opens the door to people who have no concerns about what they are selling, or of the effects it has. That is why cannabis needs to be legalised and then it can be controlled.

Is the prohibition on cannabis use doing more harm than good? (Picture: the prohibition on cannabis use doing more harm than good? (Picture:
Is the prohibition on cannabis use doing more harm than good? (Picture:

Peter Hopkins, Edinburgh

At risk of hate

You report that almost half of people in an opinion poll by Savanta “want the Hate Crime Act repealed” (May 14). Perhaps many of those people may not personally have experienced a hate crime covered by the act. Because hate crime attacks a person’s core identity, it can have a particularly big impact. And some communities are rather more at risk – surveys indicate for example that the majority of LGBTI people in Scotland have experienced more than one hate crime.

You report also that nearly 10,000 online complaints of hate crime were made to police in the first month since the act was brought into effect. But your report did not mention that almost all of those happened in the first two weeks. The weekly numbers of such complaints over the first month were 7152, then 1832, then 390, and then 106 in week four. That's a 6,600 per cent drop between the first week and the fourth, with the fifth week's figure of 124 complaints being similar.

In short, the stooshie around the start-up of the legislation resulted in a huge number of reports, which were not in fact assessed to be crimes or hate incidents, and things have now settled down again. That's not surprising – most of the act restates long-existing law. Repealing it would remove vital protections that have been part of the law for many years for those attacked because of disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

Tim Hopkins, Edinburgh

Forgotten sacrifice

As the British Army was forced to retreat the 51st Highland Division – mainly Black Watch, Seaforths, Argylls – were ordered stand and defend to the end the perimeter of Dunkirk, against overwhelming odds, to allow the evacuation of around 331,000 soldiers. This they did.

During the ten-day battle 20,000 were killed and the remaining 10,000 were forced back to St Valery-le-caux where they were trapped by high cliffs behind and the full weight of Panzer divisions in front. No ships could get near to take them off, there was no longer any ammunition, and two days later, on 12 June 1940, surrender was unavoidable. Nearly all were captured and marched off to Stallag 344 in Poland. Those who survived the forced labour camps (only officers went to PoW camps) were not released till May 1945.

This was all kept hidden so that the morale-boosting “miracle” of Dunkirk would not be undercut by the disaster of the 51st Division’s sacrifice. Relatives did not get news for years, some not till the war ended; the lives of many of the survivors were shortened; and the men whose actions had made Dunkirk possible were ignored. Every Highland village lost men, and yet little was made of St Valery – apart from those immediately connected – for the next 80 years.

Every year since 1940 much attention is rightly given to the courage of those involved in the Dunkirk rescue, including many who perished on the “little” boats. Such tributes should also be paid to the men who fought on, to guaranteed disaster, with no rescue, in order that so many could be saved at Dunkirk – the heroes of St Valery-en-Caux.

Susan FG Forde, Scotlandwell, Perth and Kinross

Guilt by association

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I am afraid I must respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree with the comments of Mark Tennant (Letters, 13 May) about John Swinney.

Mr Tennant notes that Nicola Sturgeon “led one of the most mendacious, incompetent governments in recent history”. Further, he comments: “John Swinniey inherits this mess and is setting about reforming his party from the divisive rabble it currently is.”

One has to ask what on Earth Mr Tennant thought John Swinney had been doing since he became Deputy First Minister to Ms Sturgeon in 2014 to 2023? In effect, he was Ms Sturgeon’s “consigliere”, forever on her shoulder, while also having the time to cause devastation to our once world-leading education service as Cabinet Secretary for Education from 2016-2021.

A supporter of the shambolic Deposit Return Scheme, the appalling Gender Reform Bill and the unworkable Hate Crime Act, it seems inconceivable that John Swinney will be the “safe pair of hands” as described and wished for by Mr Tennant.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Gaslighter Sunak

Rishi Sunak labels as “extremists” Scots who want to end the union with England.

This is classic gaslighting, a form of emotional manipulation that occurs in abusive relationships. The abuser misleads and lies to the abused, making it question its own judgments and reality. Gaslighting occurs over time. In Scotland’s case, it’s gone on for 317 years, embedding a chronic sense of inferiority and deficiency within its collective psyche – the “Scottish cringe” – resulting in dependency upon its UK abuser.

Colonial powers rely on gaslighting to subjugate their colonies, and the UK has had more experience than most other nations in perfecting this particular technique. Gaslighting behaviours include:

Lying habitually, telling the colony that it is too wee, too poor and too stupid to survive without its protection. It never backs down even when confronted with evidence that contradicts its lies.

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Discrediting the colony, calling the colonised “extremists” who are undermining the superior values of the colonial power, when those “values” are domination and exploitation of the colony.

Shifting blame, faulting the colony for faltering public services when it knows full well that the colony doesn’t have the power to create money, or control its resources or economic policy.

Using caring words as weapons – “the precious union”, “broad shoulders”, “better together”, “I’ll always be there for you” – to quell unrest and paper over the cracks.

Also supplanting the colony’s history, hiding its constitution, removing its languages and suppressing its culture, imposing its own history, constitution, language and culture in their place.

The UK is the extremist and the sooner Scots wake up to this reality the sooner we can end this failing union.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

Vote for coalitions

Although I’d much prefer that our MPs were chosen via sortition instead of election, I certainly agree that the current use of PR has proved a disaster in giving power to a party none of whose candidates were personally popularly elected.

However and logically, the only valid form of PR is where parliamentary seats are allocated in proportion to a party’s share of the vote, and MPs are allocated a constituency to mind during their tenure of office. Most subsequent governments would probably be coalitions, but I like the idea that our politicians would then be obliged to grow up and collaborate rather than quarrel.

Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian

Tasting notes

I enjoyed your article recommending whiskies for under £50 (Scotsman, 14 May). Drinking responsibly, I enjoy a glass of malt as much as any man, but am I alone in thinking the tasting notes on the boxes are a load of codswallop?

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One brand I bought recently says it’s a “a signature smooth malt, layered with orchard fruit, honey sweetness and toasted oak, with a finishing note of almond and spiced vanilla, all in perfect balance”. Have any readers tasted toasted oak?

Michael Grey, Edinburgh

Will of the people

The courts and legal profession in our country who subvert the wishes of the population to stop illegal migrants remind me of the officer of the watch of one of HM ships.

He bellowed down the voice-pipe to the helmsman to steer 15 degrees to port. The helmsman recognised the error, which would have driven us on to the rocks, so he steered to starboard. At the end of the watch the helmsman was severely admonished for disobeying an order.

Failing to understand that ignoring the will of the people can lead to revolution – and none of us want to be driven on to that rock. So it’s time the judiciary noticed the smell of bitterness in the air and used their common sense instead of strictly interpreting legal minutiae.

Stan Hogarth, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire

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