Cannabis Skunk Sense (CanSS) is a registered charity currently run and funded principally by volunteers.
Our mission is to raise awareness of the continuing and growing threat to children, teenagers and their families, posed by cannabis use. The Charity was born out of the desperation of parents with children suffering from behavioural and mental problems as a result of drug taking, typically cannabis. The challenge for us all, and our purpose is to communicate to the widest possible audience, the huge threat posed by the drug epidemic facing society, which arises principally from Government failure to prevent increasing numbers of children and young people being drawn into the drugs culture.
When I was asked to take charge of the Health Education Programme in my school about 20 years ago, I had limited knowledge of drugs and the damage they can do. Since cannabis was then, and still is, the most frequently used illegal drug I decided to find out as much as possible about it. Children always want and need explanations for everything, so I decided that I would show them exactly how drugs can affect cells in the body, particularly brain cells, using simple scientific diagrams and reasoning. My talks would be factual, non-patronising and constantly updated with new research findings. Information can easily be tailored to suit the age of the pupils. Watching the faces of children change as understanding slowly dawns when they hear the unvarnished truth is very rewarding.
What I discovered all that time ago, shocked me, and ever since I have been trying to publicise the damage that this drug can do to the brains and bodies of its users.
Cannabis use has risen inexorably since 1981 when British Crime Survey data was first published. About 3% of adults in Britain are estimated to have used cannabis in the last month. More worrying though is the 6% of 11 to 15 year olds who are regular drug users.
Apart from the devastating consequences that mental illness brings to users and their families, many other harmful effects have been recorded. Various cancers, heart attacks and strokes, disruption to the reproductive processes, deficiencies in children born to cannabis-using mothers and impaired immune systems are all part of the sorry saga.
But what most concerned me as a teacher was the ruin of the careers of some of my pupils. Few children using cannabis even occasionally will achieve their full potential. Because the drug persists in the cell membranes literally for weeks, the functioning of the brain is permanently impaired even on one joint a month. For all these reasons I have collected data on cannabis from many different sources and on many different aspects, including driving, the gateway theory and possible use in medicine. Well over 900 papers are referenced. There are many more. I hope this website will be useful to anyone, and especially those dealing with young children.
The younger a child is when use starts, the more likely he or she is to develop a mental illness, become addicted or move on to other drugs. It is our duty as adults to protect them. They are our future.