‘Cannabis linked to man’s suicide’

7 April 2008

A CORONER has urged MPs to look into the death of a Doncaster supermarket worker before making any decision on the re-classification of cannabis.

Coroner Stanley Hooper entered the controversy about the reclassification of the drug after hearing how a young man committed suicide while suffering from schizophrenia brought on by cannabis use.

Mr Hooper said politicians should reflect on the case of the 21-year-old Stuart Lester when considering whether to upgrade cannabis to a class B drug. He also expressed surprise that Stuart’s body was hanging from a bridge on busy Leger Way, Intake, for up to six hours before anyone reported it.

An inquest heard the shelf stacker was a normal boy until he started using cannabis at the age of 15. Since then he had become a paranoid schizophrenic who made several attempts on his life.

Recording a verdict that Stuart killed himself, Mr Hooper said he had been diagnosed as schizophrenic at the age of 17 and this was thought to be brought on by cannabis use as a child.

He added: “There had recently been discussions by politicians as to whether or not it was a mistake to reclassify cannabis and whether or not it should be reclassified as B rather than C. When considering possible reclassification those whose duty it is to do so may reflect upon the death of Stuart Lester.

“The use of cannabis can lead to devastating effects. It may be thought that this may not have happened had this young man not used cannabis as a child.”

Stuart took a number of Ecstasy tablets before leaving his home in Essex Avenue, Intake, in the early hours of February 26 and used a rope to hang himself from the bridge near Danum School.

It was not until after 6am that a passing motorist saw it and alerted police. “I find it puzzling that his body was not reported to police until after 6am because he must have been dead for some while. One finds it rather difficult to suppose that no-one had seen him before 6am and I infer that some people had passed it but not reported it,” said Mr Hooper.

Stuart had spent various spells in hospital since becoming schizophrenic but was living at home with his mum and younger brother when he decided to take his own life.


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