Cannabis Killed My Son - But It Should Still Be Legal

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A FATHER who blames cannabis for his dead son's depression has called for
the legalisation of the drug.

Following the reclassification of cannabis this week, Trevor Williams says
the only way to combat the dangers of the drug is to decriminalise it.

His son, Russell, of Lorne Place, Chester, was killed in September 2001
when he was struck by a train near Delamere Station.

'There is nothing you can do to stop people taking cannabis,' said Mr
Williams, of Delamere Road, Norley, near Frodsham. 'But as long as it
remains illegal then it is left in the control of the dealers.

'I don't see the point of moving it down, the distribution of cannabis
remains underground and people continue to be exploited.

'I know that my opinion will be controversial but if places were licensed
to sell it, there would be more control. If things are more out in the
open, more could be done to raise awareness about the effects.'

Mr Williams and his wife, Pamela, think cannabis made Russell, 31, more
susceptible to depression.

Mr Williams thinks his son may have been diagnosed with schizophrenia had
he lived longer.

A keen musician, Russell first began to take the drug when he discovered
nightclubs in his late-teens.

In the years leading up to his death, Russell was made redundant from ICI.
He was also devastated when his grandmother died.

He became more and more depressed and, in January 1999, he was admitted to
West Cheshire Hospital. Doctors thought he was suffering from a one-off
psychotic episode.

'Taking cannabis was not something that Russell really discussed with me,
although he did talk to Pam about it,' said Mr Williams.

'We don't think he took it again after going into hospital. But with
depression, it's like a vicious circle - once you get it, it's hard to
shake off.

'I am not an expert in cannabis and mental health, but I read newspapers
and I think there is some evidence.

'It usually takes about five years for schizophrenia to be diagnosed.
Doctors thought that Russell would get better, but he was very good at
hiding the way he was feeling.'

After more than a year of taking medication, Russell gradually weaned
himself off the drugs and his condition improved.

Russell was last seen alive at about 10.30pm on September 27, 2001, when he
took a taxi to the Vale Royal Abbey Arms near Delamere, two miles from his
parents' house.

At 5.45am the next day, train driver Terrence Byrne, of Aspen Close, Hoole,
thought he had hit an owl when he passed through Delamere Railway Station
and heard a thud.

Russell's body was discovered by the side of the track about two hours
later. A jury returned an open verdict into his death in July 2002.

'I read articles in the paper about cannabis,' said Mr Williams. 'The more
I read, the more I am certain that cannabis effected Russell's mental health.'

Mr Williams continued: 'Different people react to cannabis in different
ways. Some people do not have adverse effects but others, like Russell, do.

'If cannabis was legalised then there could be campaigns such as the
anti-smoking adverts on TV. The thing about cannabis is, it is perceived as
a safe drug because there is a lack of awareness. It's like alcohol or
tobacco, it can destroy lives.

Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jan 2004
Source: Steamboat Pilot & Today, The (CO)
Copyright: 2004 The Steamboat Pilot & Today
Contact: editor@steamboatpilot.com
Website: http://www.stmbt-pilot.com/