Many people sneer at the idea that addiction is a disease. "Surely so-and-so can just stop drinking" they say about alcoholics, unaware that an alcoholic can't control his craving for more drink -- just as a cancer or diabetes patient can't control the progression of his disease. Anyone who knows an alcoholic, or a hard core drug addict, will know that many of them desperately want to give up but are unable to.
Last year, the Global Commission on Drug Policy called for an open debate on the global war on drugs. On Tuesday night, they went a long way to achieving this objective.
When I was a student I thought cannabis was a harmless pastime, no worse than alcohol, and I was encouraged by the fact that it's not addictive. Many years later I ended up working for an addiction rehab clinic in Scotland where I found out that not only is cannabis addictive but the skunk version of the drug is known to send as many as 20% of users into a psychotic state.