University's lead drug researcher invited to the White House

Published: 3 May 2005

Professor Neil McKeganey participates in a White House press conference alongside top US government officials, mental health experts and scientists

Professor Neil McKeganey Director of the University of Glasgow's Drug Misuse Research Centre has had an exclusive invitation to participate in a press conference at the White House in Washington DC today Tuesday May 3, 2005. The exciting invitation comes after the recent attention that his research attracted challenging the government's current drugs' policies.

The press conference is being held by the Executive Office of the President's Office on National Drug Control Policy, led by John Walters, Director of National Drugs Control Policy for the US Government. Top US government officials, mental health experts and scientists will also be in attendance to discuss links between cannabis use and mental health disorders in teenagers.

The speakers will alert parents about the connection between marijuana use and their teens' mental health. A couple whose 15-year-old committed suicide will also talk out about their experiences.

Professor McKeganey will provide a short presentation into his research on the harm that cannabis use can cause.

Professor McKeganey explains: 'In the light of recent, worrying, evidence that cannabis can cause serious mental health problems there must be considerable concern at the extent of cannabis use by young people in Scotland and the likelihood that a significant number of young people will go on to experience mental health problems associated with their cannabis use.'

Professor McKeganey believes that the government and the Scottish Executive should invest further in drug prevention programmes, and warns against the "culture of acceptance" in the UK proceeding the decision to reclassify cannabis from Class B to Class C.

"While there has been a great deal of media coverage on the effects of reclassifying cannabis, it has clearly not been mirrored in government research," explains Professor McKeganey. "It is far more focused on the more dramatic impacts that heroin and cocaine have. The US administration is conscious of the dangers of heroin and cocaine, but it has a very different approach from the UK government and the Scottish Executive in that it also regards cannabis as a serious risk. There is a clear distance in policy."

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For further details, please contact Mike Findlay at the University Press Office on 0141 330-3535.

First published: 3 May 2005

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