UKCSC in positive Telegraph feature

The Telegraph has published a feature about UKCSC. Headlined, ‘Inside Britain’s cannabis clubs where doctors, architects and bankers enjoy a joint’, the article by Cara McGoogan and Jamie Johnson shows the positive impact our 160 clubs are having for individuals and society alike.

“Members include everything from doctors and nurses to architects, MPs’ families, barristers and bank managers,” says the paper. “The exact number of members is unknown, but on average each club has around 300, a figure that is growing with awareness. Brighton, the largest club, has more than 700, according to UK Cannabis Social Clubs (UKCSC).

“As is typical of the clubs, members in Hampshire range from 18 (the minimum age) to 70-something, with the average person in their 40s. Up to 80 per cent use cannabis for medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, depression and Crohn’s disease.”

Sy Dingam, chairman of the Hampshire Cannabis Community, told the paper: “It’s like a pub without the drink and the trouble. There’s music, tea and coffee. People mingle and have a chat. Outdoor events look like a family do: people bring their kids and it has the feel of a big picnic.

“Everybody uses it like it’s legal and the police don’t do anything; they’ve got real crimes to sort out.”

Christine Taylor in Teeside speaks about the club’s community spirit. “Everyone looks out for each other here. We are friends, and come from all over. There has never been any trouble.”

Another Teeside member tells the paper: “I’ve got a career plan, I graduated with a 2:1 and I know where I want to go. There are lots of civil engineering jobs in the North East, so I should be ok. I feel a bit alienated at university and I have anxiety, so I come here. Where’s the harm in that?”

Asked about the East London club, which has 500 members, UKCSC chairman Greg de Hoedt said: “It has a lot of finesse to it. They have a vegan chef who holds fine dining edible events. It also hosts monthly film nights and next month has a jazz evening.”

Sarah, a 30-year-old sales manager and member of the Brighton club who smokes cannabis for anxiety, explains how events are advertised in private text messages and on social media. “Instagram is a great source for cannabis enthusiasts and a really good tool for this,” she says.

Although the clubs are currently 70% male, she says: “I’ve talked to other girlfriends who are professional women about joining and I think the clubs would benefit from more women. But I feel entirely safe with the guys, much more than with the drinking population.”

Rhys, a 44-year-old senior manager in the public sector, has created a franchise in Cardiff. He has smoked cannabis since he was 16 but now uses it now to alleviate pain from arthritis.

“I’m highly regarded in my profession and contribute to society, but I can’t come out as a cannabis user. After 30 years, I decided I don’t want to be part of a black market, work with criminals or buy it on the street.”

Rhys, who has an MBA and is an honorary member of a professional body, says: “I have to run it without putting my name to it, it’s one of the biggest frustrations. We’re no different to a fine wine, cigar or whisky connoisseurs club.

“The establishment would be completely surprised if they came to one of our events. They would probably meet the teacher who taught their kids, doctor who treated them last week and the architect who designed their extension.”

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