The cannabis campaign is growing in the UK. More and more people are becoming aware that the Government/tabloid newspaper view that cannabis is a dangerous drug and causes mental health problems is based on propaganda and bad science. New scientific studies and medical testimonies are showing that cannabis actually has a multitude of benefits, although this does not get nearly as much press coverage as the odd pseudo-study claiming that cannabis is somehow bad for you.
The are an estimated six million cannabis users in the UK, a number which will undoubtedly continue to grow. Sir Richard Branson when asked if he had taken drugs recently claimed (addressing mps) that: “50% of my generation have smoked cannabis… 75% of my children’s generation smoked cannabis.” He is the face of an organisation of influential people that are currently campaigning for a more sensible policy towards drugs.
In the UK we live in a society where from a very young age we are warned about the dangers of drugs – we are told how drugs can mess up your life and send you into a spiral of addiction that will have you stealing from your family and living in your own filth. Yet we are not educated about the different levels of danger for each drug, rather just warned to avoid them altogether.
People call cannabis a gateway drug, yet what did they expect to happen:
Children are taught that drugs are dangerous, but most of the facts are left out. They are told to avoid them.
Children sometimes rebel – they might try a bit of cannabis with their mates, and will then realise it’s not such a bad thing. The adults lied.
They get their cannabis from a drug dealer. This dealer happens to be a bit older, but doesn’t care who he sells to. He’s in it for the profit alone. One day, he offers them some harder drugs. They don’t know anything about them, but hey, they were lied to about cannabis. What is to say they weren’t being lied to about everything else?
So the gateway to harder drugs theory is a product of prohibition, and cannot be blamed on cannabis itself. The majority of people who drink don’t use drugs, because they are not legal and readily available. This shows that if regulated, cannabis would not cause a rise in the number of people trying using other drugs, as it would be separated from a market where they were often sold together.
Here are some of the reasons that cannabis should be legalised and regulated in the UK in 2012:
The Dangers of Alcohol – The Government-Approved Alternative
OK, so we are warned to drink in moderation by television ads and writing on bottles, but that doesn’t stop people getting paralytic on a Friday/Saturday nights when they go out. We are the binge drinking capital of the Europe, and alcohol is a dangerous drug. The scary thing is that people don’t seem care, and many abuse their bodies by drinking far too often, leading to many proven health problems.
drinkaware.co.uk states that: “Either on its own or in conjunction with other factors, alcohol is estimated to be responsible for at least 33,000 deaths in the UK each year.”
Alcohol addiction is a big problem, and the site also states that: “More than one in 25 adults are dependent on alcohol, and the UK has one of the highest rates of binge drinking in Europe. An estimated 17 million working days are lost each year due to people missing work due to the effects of alcohol. In young adults, binge drinking is also associated with a range of risky behaviours, including a higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted illness”
How many fights every weekend can be attributed to alcohol? I’d estimate about 99% of them. How often do you wake up after a night of heavy drinking unaware of some of the events from the night before? Alcohol, for the most part turns people into dick-heads, its plain fact. Have you ever been sober around a group of pissed people? It’s not fun.
Cannabis on the other hand, makes people chilled out and happy. It brings people together. The other day I shared a few spliffs with the man who came in install my new TV Arial. He was safe as houses – a complete stranger. Can you imagine what the country would be like if instead of going out and getting pissed at the weekend, people had the option to go to cannabis coffee shops to enjoy their evening in a much safer way? Maybe alcohol-related deaths would even drop as people would have a legal and safer alternatives so would not feel as compelled to drink themselves into a stupor. NHS costs may even drop if more people smoked than drunk, as levels of violence and domestic abuse would be reduced.
Yet the government still approves alcohol, while demonising cannabis, which has zero reported deaths directly related to its use in the history of mankind! And as far as irrational reports claiming that cannabis can be linked to schizophrenia (When in fact cannabis smokers have sharply rose in number over the past 15 years with levels of schizophrenia staying stable or even declining) – Alcohol has proven health risks, both mental and physical associated with it. Many alcohol users don’t even consider alcohol a drug, when its levels of danger including that of dependence are up there with the strongest and most despised of the illegal drugs.
The dangers of mixing Cannabis with tobacco
Tobacco is a horrible drug that kills 100,000+ in the UK alone, and millions more around the world directly each year. Ash.org states that:
“The highest recorded level of smoking among men in Great Britain was
82% in 1948, of which 65% smoked manufactured cigarettes. At that time,
significant numbers of men smoked pipes or cigars as well as, or instead
of, manufactured cigarettes. By contrast, women have tended to smoke
only cigarettes. Smoking prevalence among women in 1948 was 41% and
remained fairly constant until the early 1970’s, peaking at 45% in the mid
Cannabis on the other hand has never killed anybody – the biggest health danger you face when lighting a spliff and inhaling is from the tobacco smoke. Recent studies have shown that people that smoke pure cannabis rather than mixing it with tobacco do not have an increased risk of cancer (see here). Films like Rick Simpson’s Run from the Cure, and Len Richmond’s What if Cannabis Cured Cancer have shown testimonies of people who have used cannabis to cure themselves of cancer, and these films are definitely worth watching and sharing whenever possible.
The problem is that with cannabis illegal the Government will not distinguish the dangers of mixing it with tobacco, meaning that people are more likely to smoke with tobacco than safer alternatives, especially as being caught with a pipe or other paraphernalia by the police can lead to problems. People need to be educated on safe ways to use cannabis, but as the Government sees it as dangerous they refuse to let this happen.
Just for the record – To use cannabis safely – vaporise it. Vaporisers range from cheap to expensive, with the top-end Volcano Vapes costing over £400 for the top-of-the-range models. But you can pick up a cheap one for as little as £5. Vaporising doesn’t burn the weed, so you are not inhaling any smoke. It is a cannabinoid-filled vapour which gets you high without the dangers of smoking! Eating is also a safer way to use cannabis, although it is harder to measure how much you have and the effects may be stronger. If you’re going to smoke cannabis, you should do it in one of the following ways: in a bong (Don’t Mix tobacco into this) – as the smoke is cooled before it reaches your lungs, or in a pipe in small hits which may be hot, but at least it doesn’t contain the tobacco. Smoking cannabis neat in joints/blunts is also much safer than mixing cannabis with tobacco in joints – although it should be noted that blunt wraps are made from tobacco, so if possible you should use paper rips to avoid the tobacco altogether. If you do mix tobacco in your joints, use as little as possible, especially as you’re smoking it without a filter.
Remember: Smoking (Tobacco) Kills.
The most dangerous thing about cannabis is the criminal record
I heard Professor David Nutt say this when he was interviewed by Howard Marks. It’s true – people are criminalised for using cannabis and thousands of people in the UK each year get criminal records for possession which damage future career opportunities and how they are looked at by society. These people are not criminals, and do not deserve to be treated in this way. Cannabis users include some of our most influential people over the past four decades, and many swear by cannabis as a source of inspiration in their work.
The myth of stronger cannabis
This propaganda spread like wildfire through our tabloids and now the Great British public are in fear of “skunk”, which they think is a stronger form of cannabis with increased risk of mental health problems. This is completely inaccurate! Cannabis has been available in a variety of strengths for over 20 years, and skunk is actually the name of one particular strain. Even Sir Richard Branson made the error of stating that there were two types of cannabis, marijuana and skunk, the latter being more dangerous than alcohol. In fact, marijuana is the name adopted by Harry J. Anslinger in America in the 1930s, to make it sound exotic to enhance his racist cannabis smear campaign. There are actually three types of cannabis – Indica, Sativa and Ruderalis, with each having different properties, but all are much less dangerous than alcohol.
The dangers of contaminated cannabis
I wrote an article – The Dangers of Contaminated Cannabis – which explains how contaminants can include things like glass beads, sand and fibreglass. As the cannabis market is on a large part controlled by organised criminals, the inevitable result is that people will find ways to make more profit. So sometimes dealers or growers spray their cannabis, greatly increasing its weight and therefore value. However this poses serious health risks to cannabis users nationwide. I read a comment from an American whilst doing my research for the article, and they were in disbelief that people were contaminating cannabis. It seems to be a UK-bred phenomenon.
If cannabis was regulated by the Government this would almost entirely eliminate this problem. If cannabis was grown and sold in licences outlets, we could be safe in the knowledge that we will know where our cannabis comes from. Organised criminals would loose control of the cannabis market, and sprayed cannabis would become a thing of the past. People would no longer face health problems from contaminated cannabis, and us cannabis users would all be better off for it.
When cannabis shouldn’t be smoked
Like anything that alters your mental state, cannabis should not be used by children. Of course if regulated by the Government, cannabis should only be purchasable by those over the age of 18, the same age as alcohol. The reason for this is that altering mental states may not be as safe for developing brains, i.e. those of children, and therefore cannabis should only be used by adults, who have had time to grow up and mature. Yet how many stoners do you know that started smoking cannabis at the age of 14 – 13 – even 12! This is another product of prohibition – and as highlighted earlier in this article drug dealers don’t care how old their customers are. They care about the profit, on the most part, and that’s that. They will sell to minors. If the government controlled the market, it would be much harder for young people to get cannabis, as they would need I.D at a licensed store.
People have been using cannabis medicinally for a long time. However our government still maintains that cannabis has no medicinal benefits in its herbal form. We are making steps – Sativex is now a regulated medicine, although the Government still seems to believe that it doesn’t get you high the same as cannabis, and is therefore not cannabis. In fact, it is cannabis soaked in ethanol and mixed with peppermint oil, and yes the side effects listed are also the effects of being stoned!
I asked for some medical testimonies and here are some of the ways people are treating their conditions with cannabis:
Nick: I use it medicinally for helping alleviate the symptoms of aspergers’ syndrome.
True Spirit My friend who has neuropathic, phantom limb and other pains finds immediate relief from mentioned symptoms after vaporizing Ganjah. In fact, he is going to see his GP about Sativex next week. It works on all levels, relieves his anxiety, fear, stress, worries, makes him more open, peaceful and kinder.
Tracey: I have fibromyalgia and M E, and it helps relax me and takes the pain away
Alex: As a diabetic finding it hard to keep control I usually have ketones which get rid of appetite and leave me in bed for days on end when it gets bad, smoking in any way (usually in a joint with tobacco) makes me feel better, makes me eat and drink properly and lets me go about my everyday life and do the things I need to do to get control and health back
Dave: the main problem i use cannabis for is spondylosis this causes head and eye pains, servere pain in my neck, sholder and arm mobility problems along with pain and swelling along my back bone to just below my sholder blades. . I have found over the last year or so some cannabis strains take away most of the pain, all of the swelling along my spine and i have full mobility of my sholder and arm….this is something that no perscription drug has been able to do.
Vicky: I have used it for 20+ years initially for a Spinal condition called Thoracic Scoliosis and now for that and Sciatica and cluster headaches and COPD. I have a very hard time getting any and have had a nasty virus my peak flow was down to 170 (should be around 300- 350) and I ached so much on top of my normal pain because I haven’t had any decent medi weed in a while ….last lot of bud was £50 for 4 grams and was a type that a stoner would die for but it did nothing for my pain. Today someone called round to see how I was and I had 1 joint…within 20 odd minutes my pain had gone and my peak flow was up to 250 something I couldn’t achieve with my Atrovent inhaler…this was grown outside organically and was just what the Doctor ordered….or would if she could 🙂 In the 90’s I used something called Flat press…I think some people call it slate…fluffed up a treat and I used a quarter a week and it cost me £25…my dealer always saved the good stuff for me as I needed it for pain. Now I use 1 gram or less depending on type per day and that keeps me as well as I can be and allows me to type longer messages LOL. I gave up smoking last year but started again cause my £38 vape just wasn’t doing it for me and somehow the Tobbacco seems to help….I guess like caffiene does in things like Anadin Extra. Sadly….even though I enjoy my spliffs I have to stop the nasty weed to save my lungs so my dream is to get a Volcano ….and a regular supply. I have 4 letters from different GP’s my present GP agrees with my use and would write a letter for me if I got busted …I have a criminal record in Scotland and press stories…on my side…hey the Reporter came from my home town 🙂 I so want Government to wake up but they are as scared of legalizing Cannabis as they are of tackling the Drinks industry that is destroying the lives of our wonderfull young people. Alcohol is a poison….Cannabis is medecine ….not hard to work out really you can see the results of the legal one in most Hospitals and not just in Casualty but on the Liver wards it destroys and ends many lives…….and the illegal one? The “evil” weed? You can see the results of that in less admissions to Hospital caused by Prescription drugs, less deaths caused by Prescription drugs and less need for visits to the GP…who is happy to see you less and knowing you can’t take ANY of the painkillers she has to offer is pleased you are managing your health so well. Oops that’s a bit long just goes to show you how effective Cannabis is 🙂
Paul: I use it for my Epilepsy as the CBD has anti convulsant properties i smoke pure only and it does stop my sizures.
Brian: I use it for migraines,depression,anxiety and to sleep.I used to go 3-4 days with no sleep now I have 3 smokes a day max and I sleep like nobody’s business.
So above you can see that cannabis helps a lot of people in the UK in a lot of different ways. And they are just a few of the thousands of medical cannabis users in the UK. People who do not have regular access to the most effective strains – people who have to buy their medicine from a drug dealer, a medicine that could also be contaminated.
A lot of medical cannabis users also state that herbal cannabis is best for their condition. The natural herb, as it is is the most effective form of treatment for medical cannabis users, yet that it is considered a dangerous drug by our government, and they are considered criminals for using it.
It is unjust that these people are criminalised for their cannabis use. Their medicine should be regulated by the government rather than sold to them by dealers. The government needs to regulate herbal cannabis for medical users immediately.
Taxation could be used in untold ways for the benefit of the UK
This is the biggest potential benefit for our Government – the taxation that they could make from regulating cannabis which would equate to the same amount of money each year as the VAT increase from 17.5% to 20%. This money could be funnelled into the NHS, schools or anything else beneficial to the UK. In California they make billions annually from the new Cannabis industry, and medical cannabis states in America are being referred to as “The Green Rush” by cannabis businessmen worldwide, as so much money is being generated by new cannabis industries. A cannabis industry in the UK, as well as improving the economy would also create many more jobs, reducing unemployment at a time when more young people are out of work than ever before.
So there you have it – some of the reasons that cannabis should be legalised and regulated in the UK. I hope you have enjoyed reading this, and have learnt something you can use to help the cannabis campaign. Please share it if you get the chance.
A note should be made that (as stated by Alun Buffry in his article “What if Cannabis was Legalised” (Coming soon to ISMOKE magazine) it is not cannabis itself that is illegal – it is the possession, cultivation (production) and supply without a license, that is banned. The law is against the people that wish to use the plant to their benefit.