Quite a statement isn’t it? Sadly, we are over 2 years on since it was declared by the Centre for Medical Cannabis and Volteface, that the law was changed and the job was done. Patients could now have cannabis on prescription and wasn’t it embarrassing that 25 years of campaigning was all in vain and all it took was a few Conservative party donors to do what the UK cannabis community had summarily failed to achieve?
Except it’s not quite all that great, is it? Let us consider a bit of an assessment of the current state of affairs. Currently, it would appear that kids are still unable to access cannabis (a substance with a zero toxicity level). Would it have something to do with the intentional ramping up of false harms, consolidating public fears and then presenting a very tightly controlled model that the Daily Mail reading, Tory voting public could accept? The model, so tightly controlled that kids cannot access a medicine with proven evidence based therapeutic value. The same medicine their counterparts across the commonwealth are now able to freely access, from Jamaica to Toronto and South Africa to Granada. The Queen has given her royal ascent to our fellow citizens but not to us.
Interestingly, having told everyone about the dangers and the deadly threat of high strength THC, that organisation (Volteface) then jumped into bed with a Texan firm making, yep you’ve guessed it, high strength THC extracts. The hypocrisy is sickening.
We’ve seen a 4 year campaign, led by an industry think tank, a think tank which has totally divided the community into worthy vs non worthy. Just as they divided consumers into worthy vs non worthy (private patients and CBD consumers worthy, everyone else – non-worthy ). In this case, worthy were those being prepared to take some cash and spread their propaganda (or throw their peers under a bus) and the non-worthy, being the actual activists, the growers, the caregivers, the people without whom GW Pharma wouldn’t have any strains to grow. The worthy get ego massages, TV and radio interviews, posters and websites, the non worthy get smeared and isolated by their own community. What a shit show.
And for what? How many of those people involved in that lobbying network are actually growing cannabis or providing for patients? How much current private clinic provision of flower is being met by UK grown produce? How much experience do these companies awarded a licence actually have in cultivating this medicine? One such licenced producer exists in the UK to currently supply flower, The Sapphire Clinic. The rest of the legal cannabis cultivated on scale in the UK is for GW Pharmaceuticals two products Sativex and Epidiolex which are prescribed more in other countries than here in the UK.
If you choose to apply to get into one of these clinics “advanced access schemes”, you can get discounted medical cannabis in return for handing over your personal medical data. But having seen the quality of the flowers being sent out to patients who can afford or are willing to pay the fee it doesn’t look like they’re producing anything near the quality that has been available through cannabis social clubs for the past ten years.
Is it any wonder why the black market is thriving?
But the biggest tragedy in all this, is the actual lack of progress for patients. Where is the United Patients Alliance? Bastians of the slogan “no patient left behind” as they clinked their china tea cups together on the lawns of Parliament. It’s no surprise that they no longer exist, their offices absorbed into Hanway St and the operation shut down. “No patient left behind…” well I suppose at least all of them have been left behind so there is some equity in that if nothing else.
What really matters about all this, and why these lobby groups hate organisations like the UKCSC, is that this boils down to access to the plant. Large money conferences attended by huge corporate management consultancies and Canadian venture capitalists don’t actually do anything to further the access to the plant for the individual. They are not cannabis conferences, they are money conferences but the noise and PR around them bamboozles the community who see these things as positive forces for change. THEY ARE NOT. Giving people access to the plant, teaching them how to grow undermines all of the profit based model. It means if someone is growing their own cannabis, or is a member of a club, they aren’t paying a premium price for their medicine. It’s either free or at cost. They don’t like that because this is all about money, not access. Always has been. And if there’s less money for them, well…… you see, they don’t like to see redistribution, unless it’s within one of their owned “vertically integrated supply chains”. A term you hear a lot if you interact with the money men of cannabis. It sounds sexy and cool but it means they own and control the whole shebang, from seed to sale, the supply of all consumables, the IT, the transport, the recruitment agency, EVERYTHING. That’s a vertically integrated supply chain, it means we the community cannot feature anywhere in it and it stiches up the industry making it impenetrable to those people the reform should be benefiting.
So, in response to the threat to profit posed by the UKCSC, they set up Canncard, which has been a spectacular failure. True to form, they used a high profile female activist (who was a member of a club), ripped off the UKCSC model, and rebadged it as their own. And worse than that, the implication of that failure is damage to individuals who rely on growing their own supply who were misled into thinking they somehow had immunity from prosecution under a police endorsed scheme. They couldn’t be further from the truth. This little wheeze was also a shining example of another favoured tactic to silence criticism. The use of ‘pink laundry’. Using vulnerable women to front their campaigns so that when we criticise we can be labelled bully’s and misogynists, attacking vulnerable women who are trying to do something for us. Don’t make me laugh…
They haven’t just been busy targeting the right to grow though. They’ve been really busy making sure it’s so expensive and cumbersome to operate in, that the UK home CBD market has also been completely decimated. Now, a handful of large corporates selling isolate, not even full spectrum extract, dominate whilst businesses built up with hard graft and sweat over the last decade have effectively been shredded. You can only play if you can pay the (massive) subs to the right Trade Association. That sounds like some sort of protection rackett if you ask me. As a direct result of their interference in all this, people who know fuck all about cannabis going on TV with banners calling them “cannabis experts” are directly influencing UK government policy. As a consequence of this, Hemp farmers in the UK can no longer process their crops for CBD. How perverse is that? At a time when the economy needs a serious injection of sustainable cash… and we need to be especially wary here. Isolated cannabinoids, and their manufacture is the aim here. NOT the freedom for us to grow, share and consume cannabis. Don’t believe me?…..
So, so far we have:
Patient access – screwed for normal people (unless you can afford a private prescription)
Right to grow – screwed for normal people
UK CBD industry – screwed for normal people
They even put one of their own in Downing Street as a Special Adviser to Boris Johnson on cannabis policy. Getting a great return on that – double down hard on the consumer, the culture and the community. Remind us again who is getting paid by the Tories, and who is getting smeared and shafted by them and voices in our own community that they are manipulating?
Money talks, and in many respects, it has enabled them to squash our voice – temporarily at least. But now the community is finally waking up to this new reality. The divisive nature of this endeavour has pitched friends against each other and prevented dedicated campaigners from working in unity. It introduced greed into a community that was anything but greedy and it is clear that they hate cannabis but they love money. So there’s a lesson there for all of us, and a wake-up call if we care to listen to it. I would like to think that the community can re-galvanise itself, if it can’t or isn’t prepared to, then don’t say we didn’t warn you….
Written by Magic Trichs – Cardiff Cannabis Cafe