Cannabis has been much in the news recently.
First of all it was the story of Billy Caldwell and the cannabis oil his Mother used to treat his epilepsy. If you remember, the oil, legally bought in Canada and originally prescribed by the NHS, was confiscated at Heathrow.
It was going to be destroyed, but the family successfully lobbied to have the oil returned after Billy suffered a number of severe fits which no other medicine could control. Savid Javid was forced to use his power as the Home Secretary to issue a special license.
The government’s official line on the use of medicinal cannabis is that it has no benefits, although, following the Billy Caldwell case, the Home Office has undertaken a review.
Since then another little girl from Northern Ireland has also been prescribed cannabis oil by the NHS to treat her epilepsy.
More recently there was the news that prosecutions for cannabis use have fallen by 19% since 2015. What this suggests is that the police are effectively decriminalising the drug by refusing to prosecute in a growing number of cases.
Theresa May, meanwhile, has rejected calls by William Hague and opposition parties to legalise the recreational use of cannabis, insisting that there is evidence of harmful effects.
She has also distanced herself from the review, saying “there’s a very good reason why we’ve got a set of rules around… cannabis and other drugs – because of the impact of that they have on people’s lives, and we must never forget that.”
This is despite the fact that her husband, Philip May, through his company Capital Group, is the largest single investor in GW Pharmaceuticals, one of the biggest cultivators of cannabis in the world, and that her current Policing Minister, and ex-Drugs Minister, Victoria Atkins, has had to stop speaking for the government on cannabis issues, because her husband, Paul Kenwood, is managing director of British Sugar, which last year started growing the drug under license from the Home Office, the department of which she is a minister.
You could call this hypocrisy, if you like, but to me it speaks of something more venal: the use of legal privilege to create a monopoly.
If ministers have the power to keep a substance illegal but, at the same time, also the power to license the production of that substance to members of their own family, doesn’t this suggest corruption of the worst kind?
May’s line about the impact of drugs on people’s lives is complete hypocrisy, since much of the evidence points to the fact that it is the illegality of drugs which creates most of the negative impact.
If a drug is legal and licensed – as it is in the case of alcohol – this protects the consumer from contaminated product.
If, on the other hand, we hand over the sale and production of our drugs to gangsters, then this inevitably creates risks for the user.
Let’s also remember that cannabis is a plant which grows abundantly in the wild, and which has a number of uses aside from its mind-altering or medicinal effects.
In fact, it is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. It can be used to make quality, hard-wearing clothes. It can be used to make biodegradable plastic. It can be used to make paper and packaging. It can be used to counter deforestation in vulnerable landscapes.
The idea that this useful, socially beneficial and benevolent herb should be kept illegal in order to create a monopoly for a few wealthy and privileged families is abhorrent, and shows how insane our world has become.
From The Whitstable Gazette 26/07/18
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