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What's the deal about dope?

THE time has come I'm afraid. Yes, I too must confess all about my relationship with cannabis.

There seems to be no minor celebrity or obscure shadow minister who hasn't now claimed to have experimented briefly with illegal drugs and yet gone on to lead a responsible and useful life (assuming it can be said that shadow ministers lead useful lives).

In my own case however I have to admit something even more shocking: in my university days I didn't smoke cannabis. I don't even recall being offered any.

Maybe I'm just a bit younger than all those 70s swingers who are standing up currently to be counted but I would have to have made an effort to find campus cannabis and why should I? Before leaving the sixth form I'd already discovered that serving drinks at the headmaster's wine and cheese parties enabled me to sample certain substances that made me laugh a lot before falling asleep on the No 27 bus home.

Thus began my "experiment" with alcohol. At college I found it freely available and never tried anything else. Sometimes the only way to see your tutor was to trak him down to the Union bar.

I told this story to my 13-year-old last weekend. Sarah is of an age when she is quite sure that she is never going to smoke, take drugs, drink alcohol or get divorced. Life on the cusp of adolescence can be very simple at times. It's all a matter of not doing what you don't want to do. What surprises me however is that Sal condones my partiality for a nightly Gamp;T simply because it's legal whereas cannabis, a much milder drug, is unacceptable because it's illegal. This despite the fights we've seen outside pubs here.

I know several actors who are teetotal but who smoke dope and claim it never makes you punchy. Illegal drugs are not inherently more dangerous than legal ones and if alcohol were invented today it would certainly be banned.

However seeing as no government is going to try and outlaw booze (look at how the Mafia moved in during Prohibition) the answer must be to legalise all soft drugs so people can make a sensible choice. That way I might get a chance to try some too. I'd like to find out what the fuss is about.

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