By Dave Underbridge
The US has made great strides in recent decades, from a Reefer Madness-inspired World Policeman torching foreign marijuana fields from the air; to a nation of home-growers and medicinal users – even allowing recreational use in a couple of states.
In 1982, David Cameron (aged 15) was suspended from Eton for smoking cannabis. Fortunately, he wasn’t selling it to his chums, or he’d have been expelled. And then where would the Tory party be today?
Questioned in 2005 about his past cannabis use, Cameron said: “Shutup shutup shutup,” “A politician’s private life is private,” “we are all human … we err and stray,” “I am not issuing a denial,” and eventually “I did a lot of things … which I shouldn’t have. We all did.” [We Conservatives? We Etonians? Who is ‘we’? I think we the public deserve to be told…]
Last year, refusing the Home Affairs Select Committee’s recommendation that a Royal Commission be set up to look into decriminalisation, Cameron said “Cannabis is the gateway to greater drug use and its legalisation will open the door to making drug-taking socially acceptable.” I think we all recognise the ‘gateway’ argument for the weasel-poop that it is. And of course, legalising cannabis will only make cannabis more socially acceptable, not all drug-taking! To argue otherwise would be to say that tobacco being legal opens the door to making cannabis socially acceptable, or to claim that we need an arbitrary ‘buffer zone’ of safe-but-illegal drugs to separate our dangerous illegal drugs from ‘safe’ legal ones…
Cameron’s personal use of cannabis was, of course, recreational. Shouldn’t he be as aware as we are that ‘gateway’ is not a valid argument? Or does he spend every night slumped on the toilet with a needle hanging out of his arm, cursing the day three decades ago when he allegedly smoked cannabis?
On the plus side, he also said he had an open mind on medical use. And Sativex is now licensed, which is a good first step. But there are many medical conditions where sufferers claim that cannabis helps them, beyond those covered by a Sativex prescription. These people also have a legitimate – and urgent – need for access to cannabis, whether by way of prescription, purchase, or home-growing. We’ve been busy scouring the biodiversity of the rainforest for medicinally-useful organisms when there’s a perfectly good universal (or at least broad-spectrum) panacea sat right under our noses, if only the law allowed the necessary research. Millions of people self-medicate with cannabis for a wide variety of conditions; they can’t all be wrong!
If the US can change its mind about The Evil Weed, it’s time for Cameron to notice that the 90s – when politicians had to lie about their youthful pot smoking to get votes – are long gone; we’re in an era where even the President of the Free World can be open and honest about his past use of an herb.
If indeed we can at last talk about cannabis, and begin to accept that it may have valid medical use, Cameron could redeem his hypocrisy in two ways: Firstly, he should listen to his own Select Committee. Secondly, he should fund research at an accelerated rate; because, despite provisions for medical use in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, cannabis’ international status under this Convention as an illegal narcotic – a status based in politics, not in science – has been an effective bar to research for too long.
Hopefully, David Cameron will take note of the Cannabis Hypocrisy Protest that is being organised by NORML UK to be held in London near Parliament on Wednesday 9th October.