UKCSC chairman Greg de Hoedt spoke to BBC Radio 5 Drive Time on Wednesday and demanded the government grant cannabis users the right to grow.
Co-host Tony Livesey told listeners that Britain is witnessing a “boom” in cannabis social clubs with two opening every month. He asked Greg how the clubs could justify their illegal activity.
“How do you justify criminalising people who aren’t causing harm to anyone?” said Greg. “There’s no victim so there shouldn’t be a crime.”
Asked why people couldn’t just consume cannabis at home instead of “flouting the law” in social clubs, Greg replied: “Why should you have to hide inside their own homes if they want to consume cannabis? Why can’t they socialise with another person? Some people want to get out.
“Cannabis social clubs are a safe space for a lot of patients who need to use cannabis medicinally. I’ve got Crohn’s disease myself. I was diagnosed in 2009. In 2010 I was told I was going to die. I went to Colorado, California, Washington and Oregon to get access to medical cannabis oil and I came back with a full bill of health. I came off the chemotherapy drugs I was on, I avoided the surgery I was going to have that would have left me with a bag. While I was on the medication doctors gave me I was trapped at home, I couldn’t really do anything and I had no social life. Friends I grew up with discarded me because I was sick. It was a sad situation to be in.
“So I set out on this mission to create social cannabis clubs. It was a safe space for people like me who aren’t causing any harm to anyone, for patients and people who grow it to share and consume; we share information and keep this kind of activity off the streets.”
Asked if he was worried that the police would one day decide to raid the clubs, Greg replied: “I used to sit at home worrying that I was going to die, worrying about what if I can’t get access to this medical cannabis that can help me.
“Patients can’t get hold of medical cannabis through the legal channels. The [1 November law change] actually prevents people from accessing it. If your specialist thinks they should prescribe it to you, they have to ask another specialist who might disagree with them, and that means the patient isn’t going to get access to medicine. I think that’s more of a concern at the moment. Yes, people are concerned that our clubs could get shut down, but at the moment people’s own homes are being raided for consuming and growing cannabis for themselves. People are scared already for growing their own medicine.”
Lastly Greg was asked if he was heartened by progress around legalisation in the US and Canada.
“Yeah, 100%. But at the same time, we can’t wait. We’ve been waiting in this country for 20, 40 years. If we are told we have to wait another 10 years for recreational cannabis – because that’s the only way I can access it for healthcare, the NHS isn’t giving me access to it even though I’ve got a life-threatening illness – people are going to have to carry on breaking the law. We need to be given the right to grow. We need to decriminalise it for everyone, not just for medical use, we need to decriminalise it across the board. It’s unjust.”