are in Activism / Pragmatism|
we need Cannabis Pragmatism
is based on a big lie; Cannabis is not a controlled drug.
- The known unknowns
Regulating the trade - how
it could work
present policy toward (some) drugs - including cannabis - is prohibition. The
possession, use and trade is illegal. This is supposed to protect us all but it
does no such thing.
the years, the debate about cannabis has become polarised, it's either presented
as the "assassin of youth" or the "the harmless herb" depending
on who you listen to. This ill-informed debate is a symptom of prohibition.
on earth is totally safe and that includes cannabis, but as with all things the
risks connected with its use are quantifiable and understandable, or least,they
should be. The trouble is prohibition works to prevent knowledge and understanding,
making the potential dangers from cannabis use far higher than they need be.
possible risks of cannabis use are not arguments for its continued prohibition,
but rather are strong arguments for a regulated and controlled legal regime aimed
at reducing harm and protecting the vulnerable.
aims to be inclusive and we respect that people have a wide range of experiences.
We will encourage commentators to look at new research and studies critically
and fairly, but we do insist that the research is based on good science - using
statistically valid data concerning the nature of the drug being used and the
also recognises that although most users have few if any problems with their cannabis
use, there are genuine and valid public health concerns associated with both its
use and the way it's used. There are vulnerable people - especially children -
who need the protection of the law.
the 30 years since the introduction of the Misuse of drugs act, the use of cannabis
has increased massively and the age of first use has dropped to the point where
it is almost the norm for children to be users - indeed in some areas it is the
norm. Children need protecting from drugs as their young minds are developing
and they are still learning about themselves and the world around them. To do
this, the commercial trade must be regulated - instead we leave it to an unregulated
illegal supply economy.
need to be framed in such a way as to protect children from all aspects of the
drugs trade, in the same way as we do for alcohol and tobacco - and we should
be serious about it. Prohibition makes this impossible. There are also complicated
social issues connected with the illegal "black market" nature of the
supply side created by prohibition, including exploitation of asylum seekers and
has failed in its aim of suppressing the cannabis trade and culture, it has created
a massive profit driven, unaccountable, unregulated trade which often funds organised
crime and even terrorism.
of the claims the government makes about the achievements of its drugs policy
are based on uncertain data at best and at worst are no more than rhetoric (or
as they call it these days, "spin").
has resulted in supplies which are of highly variable strength, purity and composition.
There are no age limits on sales and venues where cannabis is sold are not subject
to regulation of any kind. The only qualification needed to be a dealer is unaccountability.
there is no vetting of people who supply cannabis, sometimes they also provide
other, far more dangerous substances, meaning they are often the gateway to other
drugs. Although some dealers are enthusiastic about the product they sell, few
if any are informed as to its nature or quality and many couldn't care less.
has been no attempt to educate cannabis users into safer ways to consume cannabis,
in particular no programme aimed at encouraging safer methods of smoking, especially
concerning the issue of tobacco use. Consequently most cannabis users still smoke
using a mixture of tobacco and cannabis. Separating these two drugs is a priority
campaign for UKCIA.
the past few years the government has begun to accept the need for harm reduction
education and has introduced drugs education into schools. It's also opened a
drugs information service called "Talk to Frank", however the valid
information concerning the health issues of drug use is compromised by the need
for the Frank campaign to also support and help enforce prohibition, this has
lead many to distrust the information which is often partial and incomplete.
Skunk and Reefer madness
have the absurd situation where some sections of the press are screaming that
cannabis potency has increased by factors of 20 - 30 times in recent years without
there being any data to base that claim on. Indeed, it has been shown to be largely
by the same token, users have no idea of the strength of the cannabis they are
buying and the fact is street cannabis varies greatly in both strength and purity.
is a complex substance and strength is only one of the variables, the ratio of
the active ingredients - especially THC and CBD may be at least as important if
not more so.
only data concerning cannabis strength is obtained from seized samples which is
not a statistically valid way to collect such data, and there has been no standarised
measuring regime over the years on which to make firm comparisons. So in truth
we have very little firm data about strength to base any claims on.
Madness was an expression made popular by a 1930's film of that name made to support
the original moves toward prohibition in the USA. In some campaigners eyes it's
come to represent the present government campaign against cannabis and there are
good reasons for that, especially following the outrageous claims made during
2007. Indeed much of the tabloid (and not so tabloid) press coverage of the cannabis
debate seems to have been based on the original Reefer madness film script.
we accept that for some people there is a complicated connection between cannabis
use and such issues as mental health. Arriving at a greater understanding of this
and creating policies designed to protect "at risk" people is one of
our greatest goals.
respect those for whom cannabis does have detrimental effects on their mental
health and would not use the term "reefer madness" to apply to them,
but we may use it to mean aspects of the present policy which put these people
in the firing line.
is aware that some people use cannabis because it makes an illness or an injury
at least more endurable.
use for therapeutic reasons under the advice of a doctor should be a right and
be available on the NHS. The government has gone some way to accepting this with
the limited arrangements concerning Sativex,
however, it's almost - but not quite - impossible to get. In the meantime, ill
people and their carers are treated like criminals for using a naturally growing
herb to ease their pain.
is no doubt that the prohibition of cannabis is causing many people to suffer
needlessly, or to engage with the illegal market to obtain their medicine. It
is perhaps not sensationalist to describe such a withholding of pain relief as
medical use of cannabis is illegal because of the prohibition of recreational
use. If recreational use were allowed, medical use would also be. Once again,
the most vulnerable suffer the most.
has alienated communities from the police, destroyed families and wrecked careers
and has totally failed in its goal of eliminating cannabis use.
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