Cannabis has received the headlines from every major newspaper in the UK in the last three weeks constantly. First of all our determined activists in the North East at the Teesside Cannabis Club have been breaking headlines when The Northern Echo reported that cannabis was being decriminalised in the North East – not quite accurate but there has been a shift in the way police prioritise cannabis offences. Prosecution doesn’t work and ushers people into more criminal circles and lifestyles through criminalisation.
Next the Cannabis e-petition was launched by James R Owen and it came at exactly the right time, as of this moment the petition has some 188,000 signatures and is still open and climbing…so you should probably sign that now if you haven’t yet and make sure you pass it around to your friends, family or colleagues (if you can) afterwards!
The Psychedelic Society added fuel to the fire and raised another media storm around their protest outside Parliament in which they inhaled Nitrous Oxide from brightly coloured balloons. The new Psychoactive Substances Bill which is being pushed through parliament at the moment plans to ban all substances that have an effect on your mind – except for coffee, nicotine and alcohol. Obviously this is ridiculous and a bit of a joke because things like sky diving are also ways to get a “legal” high. A blanket ban on anything that made you feel different would include N2O which has been used for enjoyment and exploring the human mind, and for analgesic purposes since the 1800’s but there are no negative reports from that era about use.
In fact, there is a large body of evidence that shows support for it being quite safe and very good for creativity, the romantic period may not have been as influenced or influential without the the completely new experiences it gave those that inhaled it or sat in isolation chambers under expose to the synthesised gas for sometimes over four hours.
A quote from Humphrey Davy, off his head on 57 liters of nitrous oxide, in an attempt “to produce excitement equal in duration and superior in intensity to that occasioned by high intoxication from opium or alcohol.”
The Psychedelic Society are a fairly new organisation, founded in 2014 by Stephen Reid who previously worked with UK Uncut in their demonstrations and campaign against Government Cuts to public services in 2010 onwards. They launched in London with the support of Steve Rolles from Transform Drugs Policy Foundation, Pf David Nutt of the Independent Scientific Council on Drugs and David Babbs from 38 Degrees.
Stephen Reid said, “Introducing more prohibition is only going to serve to drive the market even further underground.
“It doesn’t matter what people want to put into their bodies, it is quite obvious that current drug policy in the UK does not stop anyone finding a way. What can be done is to make it safer, to introduce education on how to safely consume these substances and regulate the sale and production of those commodities.
Squeezing the balloon
Novel Psychoactive Substances are sold “not for human consumption” but everyone buying them and selling them knows exactly what they are being used for. Pandora’s Box, a popular “herbal incense” was recently tested and found to have washing detergent in it as well as two other compounds that were never before seen in Europe, including others that weren’t listed on the contents.
If cannabis were legally available to buy from a trusted regulated source like a Cannabis Social Club then there would not be legal highs on the market. – Greg de Hoedt, UKCSC
This monstrous kind of business practice is the result of prohibition though and there are sensible ways to revert this trend in drug use that has only come about because of previous bans on substances, most noticeably cannabis, but also MDMA.
If cannabis were legally available to buy from a regulated source like a Cannabis Social Club then there would not be legal highs on the market. People buy these legal versions, having no understanding of what is in them, knowing that they could be more harmful than the real thing, but they do it because they do not want to break the law by using natural cannabis which could result in a criminal record, losing employment, housing and having travel restrictions imposed. People are also showing clearly, that alcohol is not the drug of choice for many Britons any more.
Fittingly, Baroness Meacher a long time campaigner for the regulation of all drugs and the safe sale of cannabis for medical use added on an amendment to the Psychoactive Substances Bill to allow the personal cultivation and possession of cannabis – it’s doubtful (wrongfully) it will be accepted if the bill is to pass.
You can follow the Psychedelic Society on Facebook.