After an exciting close to 2011 the British cannabis campaign has taken a lot of heart from happenings around Europe regarding cannabis legislation. First of all it was announced Switzerland will permit its residents to grow up to 4 cannabis plants each, in a bid to remove prospective customers from the drug dealers queue.
Then right at the end of the year the Basque Parliament in Spain announced it would move to regulate the supply and possession of cannabis, essentially legalizing the much maligned cannabis plant in all but name. Which is all exciting stuff, but what about the United Kingdom? Right?
With upwards of 6 million regular cannabis users in the UK (depending on what newspaper you read) it would be fair to suggest at least some of those would want to know how our European neighbors are able to use cannabis without fear of reprisals whilst here in the UK, the Home Office is still deploying transit vans full of police officers who go around kicking peoples doors down in the hope of finding at least a gram or two of cannabis, which is all it takes to justify such a gross invasion of privacy.
It’s a policy which has to stop, but it won’t stop until the public makes it happen. So I asked Peter Reynolds, the elected leader of the UK’s only real cannabis campaign of note, (CLEAR-UK), what they expected to happen regarding cannabis legislation in the UK for 2012?
He was in bullish mood, feeling very optimistic when he answered by saying; Probably quite a lot. I expect to see some significant progress both in the UK and abroad. The campaign has at last moved away from the hopeless hippy image of the past. CLEAR has been instrumental in achieving that in the UK and it means that we are now becoming mainstream. Cannabis is an important issue for everyone, users or non-users, parents, doctors, politicians and, of course, hippies, whether they wear a suit or a kaftan.
In the US, organizations like NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and Moms for Marijuana have already transformed the image of cannabis and cannabis users. In Europe, I am confident that the temporary blip in Holland will soon pass while Copenhagen, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and former Eastern bloc countries like the Czech Republic are leading the way with intelligent and progressive policies.
Israel’s medicinal cannabis program is establishing a model that others will soon follow. The Home Affairs select committee inquiry into drugs policy is a huge opportunity and I am immensely proud of the way that CLEAR members and supporters have responded. No one knows what its outcome will be as far as cannabis is concerned but make no mistake, when reform does finally arrive; this is how it will happen.
The government, ministers and the Home Office have been knowingly telling lies about cannabis for years. They need an excuse to let them off the hook and perform a U turn. A select committee report is exactly the mechanism that will allow this to happen.
Why have our political leaders been so dishonest with us? Principally out of fear of the Daily Mail whose mendacious campaign against cannabis we are finally starting to bring under control. Although the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is undoubtedly a corrupt and dishonest organisation (it works in the interests of the press, not the public), CLEAR’s determined and consistent flow of complaints is having a big impact.
That is why we will continue until the PCC finally bites the dust. Its replacement will undoubtedly be a lot tougher and I look forward to drafting my first complaint to it. The days of liars like Amanda Platell being able to get away with falsifying scientific evidence are over. I should think the PCC’s replacement is probably about a year away yet. Another reason is to please their chums in Big Booze and to secure lucrative directorships for themselves once they retire from politics.
One source of much of the improper influence over government is the Portman Group, an incredibly wealthy, shadowy lobbying organization for the alcohol industry. These people are the real drug pushers that no caricature can properly describe as evil as they actually are. They really do push this most poisonous of all substances with no concern at all for the millions of lingering deaths that it causes across the world every year.
They deliberately promote it to and make it more palatable for children. They manipulate and distort markets with impunity and deliberately to get people addicted to their product. I shall never forget when England won the Ashes a year ago and the BBC News headlines had Andrew Strauss chortling in delight and screaming that his celebrations were going to involve “loads of alcohol”.
This was prime time television, while the kids were watching and it is deeply, deeply shocking when you consider how poisonous, harmful and deadly that particular drug is. I should make it clear that I am not anti-alcohol. I enjoy strong lager, red wine and, particularly, Irish whiskey but all drugs should be appropriately regulated with accurate information and harm reduction advice. I say it was as irresponsible for Strauss to say what he did and for the BBC to broadcast it as if he had been advocating heroin use.
The final reason I advance is Big Pharma, specifically GW Pharmaceuticals. I have changed my view on this over the past year. I used to think that Big Pharma in general was preventing access to cannabis as medicine but I think I was wrong. GW Pharma, Echo Pharma and now Kannalife prove that pharmaceutical companies are perfectly happy to market cannabis medicines.
The problem is that GW has a corrupt and fundamentally dishonest relationship with not just the British government but also, at least the Dutch and US governments and the DEA. Inexplicably, except in the context of international corruption, GW obtained a licence from the DEA to import its genetics from Hortapharm in Holland.