My local GP recently told me that there is a significant drug problem in the town and that many parents are far too indifferent to the risks because many remember enjoying the drug in their early twenties when it was much milder. He also expressed concern that young people are now using cannabis at a much younger age. A local secondary school and the local Police Liaison Officer also told me that there is a significant problem in Haywards Heath. I asked the school if they were able to do more; for instance holding a meeting for parents, raising a greater awareness of the dangers among parents. I was told that it would give the impression to the local community that the school had a big drug problem when in fact this was a national problem.
Talking to other parents in Haywards Heath I am very shocked by their general complacent attitude towards drugs: ‘it’s just a phase,’ ‘I took cannabis years ago and I’m ok’ and ‘we can’t do anything.’ Nobody knows what to do. Nobody seems to care.
In view of the above I wrote to Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames regarding cannabis misuse and newer psychoactive substances in Haywards Heath and he is very concerned to tackle the drug problem in his constituency.
The Mid Sussex Neighbourhood Policing Team at Haywards Heath Police Station responded to Soames with the following comments:
“I would respond quite candidly by agreeing that the numbers of young people misusing cannabis in and around Haywards Heath is a significant cause for concern.”
“It is my observation that there is a poor understanding of the long term dangers of cannabis misuse amongst young people who are taught by their peers that the drug is harmless. In a low crime area such as Mid Sussex parents are often naive as to the actual dangers and are therefore ill-equipped to support their children to learn just what they are risking in terms of their physical and mental health. “
These are the specific concerns of Sussex Police:
1. The lack of knowledge of the medium and long term effects of the cannabis.
2. The links to family conflict and dysfunction as teenagers’ mood and mental health declines through cannabis misuse.
3. The refusal of some local schools to accept the problem exists for fear of reputational harm.
4. The very real personal danger involved in associating with and becoming indebted to drug dealers.
5. The danger of driving while intoxicated. This is a generation who have not considered that driving whilst under the influence of cannabis is just as dangerous as alcohol and illegal.
On Thursday 30th October Norman Baker Minister of State for Crime Prevention published an expert panel report on the challenge of New Psychoactive Substances: a report which emphatically says “these so called ‘legal’ highs present a challenge that cannot be ignored.”
My personal opinion is that under huge pressures of Government cutbacks the Police will be struggling to tackle this growing problem in Mid Sussex. I believe as a community of parents we should all be working together to fight the war on drugs and not to be complacent to the dangers of drug use among our teenagers. I would like to see a community action project set up. We cannot ignore this problem anymore. We have buried our heads in the sand for too long. If it isn’t your child today it could be tomorrow. Join the war on drugs.