British anti-cannabis campaigners are freaking out over a new board game that encourages stoners to smoke weed as they play.
The controversial new game, called Ganjaland, invites players on an “epic weed adventure... in which players explore a magical place of fun, adventure, friendship and ganja of course.” The game is played by drawing a card from a deck, performing the task set by the card, and then advancing along the board. The cards ask players to answer trivia questions, tell personal stoner stories, or to pass a joint or “take a solo puff.”
Ganjaland is readily available via many independent online retailers, including Ebay, and Amazon also distributes the game in the UK. This easy access has attracted the attention of British weed watchdog groups, though. Fiona Spargo-Mabbs, who launched an anti-drug charity foundation after her 16-year-old son died from an MDMA overdose, told the Mirror that she is “horrified” by this new product.
“This game is glorifying and trivializing something that can have very serious downsides, particularly for young people who are so much more vulnerable,” she added. “Most people under 18 getting professional treatment for addiction to substances are there for cannabis.”
Spargo-Mabbs and other anti-pot activists seem especially worried that the game is being marketed to children. The Ganjaland box clearly states that it is an “Adult Board Game” intended for ages 18 and up, though. The company that sells the game, What Do You Meme?, includes a disclaimer on its website noting that the “game is intended for ages 21+ because ganja is for grownups :) Always toke responsibly (and legally).”
Amazon also explained that minors are not allowed to buy this game, or any other product, without adult consent. “You have to be 18 and over to use our services and under-18s need the involvement of a parent or guardian,” a company spokesperson told the Mirror. The company also said it would update the game's description to make it even more clear that it is intended exclusively for adults, though.
UK health officials also piled some criticism on the game, and even stirred a few “reefer madness” myths into the pot. “Early onset of use, such as being under 16, makes you more likely to develop an addiction. Anything that makes it seem fun and harmless is dangerous.” said David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance to the Mirror. “Those made seriously ill by cannabis are not in a game. No cards say, ‘You get cannabis psychosis, go to hospital’. The impact of cannabis on mental health is astonishing.”
Prohibitionists love to stoke up panic about pot psychosis, but this phenomenon is exceptionally rare. One recent research study has found that cannabis-induced psychosis only occurs in less than half of one percent of users. Other recent studies have debunked popular claims that adolescent cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis, as well.
Clinical research does strongly suggest that cannabis use is riskier for children and teens than it is for adults, though. For this reason, every country and state that has legalized adult-use weed strictly limits sales and use to adults. Thanks to these age restrictions, underage cannabis use rates have declined significantly in many US states that have legalized adult-use weed.
But in the UK, where recreational cannabis use remains strictly prohibited, the cannabis market is completely operated by black market dealers who have no qualms about selling pot to kids. And in many of these cases, dealers are selling synthetic marijuana, a toxic drug that actually does cause psychosis and other severe health issues.