The big hypocrisy in Britain and across the medical cannabis industry is that the UK is the world’s largest legal exporter of medical cannabis products. At the same time only around 100 people get some kind of legal cannabis product prescribed in the UK.
This ganja growing greatness in Britain is not limited to the only legal cannabis farm belonging to GW Pharmaceuticals. It has been predicted that there is a cannabis grow in one in every three streets in the UK.
During the 1990s there was a boom in hydroponic shops when the technology available to grow indoors became much more affordable and new products were being specially designed by indoor cannabis growers who were innovating, as they embarked on a mission to grow an ever increasing quality of cannabis by carefully controlling the environment it was grown in.
Since then Britain has developed a strong underground cannabis cultivation culture that sadly gets lumped into one smeared dossier by the press. If a healthy person grows it they are bad for breaking the law and it is skunk and they get painted as a dealer. If a house fully kitted out gets busted they are a menace to society. If a patient is growing there’s some sympathy but suddenly no danger to society, and skunk becomes medical cannabis. If it’s made by GW pharmaceuticals or British Sugar it’s a life-saving medicine. Genetically, though, the plants in all four scenarios are about the same.
UK growers have high aspirations. For the past five years the number of UK growers who have entered international cannabis cups and not only finished in the top three but taken home the top prize has been surprising, even to US growers. One told us, “How are the Brits doing so well, they don’t even have legal medical cannabis growing yet.” Let me make this clear: UK growers are beating produce from Licensed Producers.
The answer to why the Brits have a good reputation is simple. Our growers are dedicated to producing cannabis that meets very high standards, because we are much more concerned about health and wellbeing than the media has painted for the past four decades.
Some of the stories that have come out of the UK thanks to these dedicated growers are a testament to how good these producers are and the quality of their work.
And this is why it’s so sad to see them not receiving the support they deserve.
Seeing some patients who treat their medical condition with cannabis from social clubs go on the TV and say they buy their cannabis on the street has been a disappointment.
The PR teams advising these patients think they are being smart by creating a situation whereby the public feel sorry for them. What they are actually doing is completely disempowering the movement that has been built up by a community of concerned citizens to support the needs of patients when the NHS and the government have turned their back on patients.
When you learn the PR firm is funded by licenced producers who want their products imported to the UK you can start to see why lying to the media has been the main tactic. Getting to the heart of the fear of your opponents and then coming along and providing a solution, in this case medical cannabis as an answer to street weed, low and behold favours the licenced producers more than the people who are stopping people suffering now.
When people who risk 14 years in prison to end the suffering of a vulnerable person or people is not getting the support back, at the most appropriate opportunity, and referred to as supplying potentially dangerous street weed, caregivers are being thrown under the bus. Where did mutual respect go?
So while there is a solution being provided and the people providing the solution need support politically and in the media to limit the risk of criminalisation for a compassionate act, PR teams who know this are working to support the desires of big business first – who haven’t helped any of the 50,000 members our clubs have.
One of the reasons they say they are doing this is because “the trend always goes medical first and recreational will follow”. Well that’s not quite true for Uruguay. Canada has the right to grow too and gave it to people before forcing them to get licenced produce.
The original US medical states allowed home growing but as time went on and more corporate interests became involved in the lobbying for medical cannabis bills in each state, the policies became somewhat more restrictive and home growing was cut from the mandate. Now states with recreational legalisation are stopping home grow too.
If we are trying to ensure patients have access to regulated cannabis that meets consumer safety standards, and we know that there are a lot of patients accessing acceptable and working cannabis via their own means now, why can we not offer the people providing this lifesaving service the opportunity to level up to the expected standards before they get levelled over by corporate cannabis that has already been given that opportunity by another state or national government? Why aren’t we helping British people contribute to resolving the problem facing many Britons?
“People aren’t ready to hear that yet… We need medical first,” say the PR firm. Not if we don’t market the right ideology to the public. We shouldn’t have such a dim view of the public’s ability to learn. Do your jobs properly!
Patients say they need their fear taken away because while they wait for the price to come down on £700 ounces or the NHS to start prescribing, that fear is causing more stress which can intensify symptoms. Fear of being arrested, fear of growing their own, fear of never being able to travel to North America to experience fairer cannabis policies.
If we take the path we seem to be heading down, where we leave unregulated growers unregulated, they will continue to produce unregulated product. The media will complain the black market is very much still alive. And it will be because the policy we ended up with won’t be designed to resolve the harms of prohibition caused to society by prohibition. No, it will be a policy that companies lobbying money paid PR firms for to suit their business interests.
Cannabis consumers know the nuances needed in the public messages that need to be delivered. There’s only one way to make sure our message is heard and that’s to start our own national PR campaign. If we fund it ourselves we can’t complain that there is anyone shady behind the scenes trying to set an agenda that is weakening to the message we need to get out there.