Doug Fine talk now available to view on Youtube
By Chris Bovey
American author and respected mainstream journalist Doug Fine was well received at London Southbank University (LSBU) as part of his European Tour; the London leg of which was held at the Elephant and Castle Campus on Wednesday 13th November 2013.
Slightly more people came than originally anticipated, so LSBU were kindly able to upgrade to a bigger room at short notice.
The evening started with a short presentation by Dr Gary Potter, Senior Lecturer and Course Director in Criminology at Senior Research in the Crime and Social Justice Research Group at LSBU, who helped organise the event.
Dr Potter talked about the alternative regulatory models for cannabis over prohibition. In particular, the advantages and disadvantages regarding the international compliances with the UN Convention on Narcotics; his point was that the treaty can be circumvented by certain models so nation signatories aren’t in breach of international law.
Michel Degens (founder of the Mambo Social Club in Belgium) followed Dr Potter, to give a short introduction to Doug Fine and to explain the situation in Belgium. The Mambo Club is Belgium’s second cannabis social club, where members are legally allowed to grow one cannabis plant and possession of up to three grams of cannabis is decriminalised.
Michel spoke about how he was inspired to create the Mambo Cannabis Social Club after he lost in job in Maastricht, in a Dutch coffeeshop, because of the law introduced in the South of Holland which banned foreigners from entering the country’s famous ‘cannabis cafes’.
Having lost access to good quality cannabis, and having previously been following the Belgium cannabis social club model, he decided to found his own: the Mambo Social club. Because of this he is now able to grow his own weed, which they share with other people at their own Weed Harvest Festivals.
Michel, himself a medicinal cannabis user, was previously permitted through English customs after declaring his herbal Bedrocan cannabis and accompanying prescription. This is something he is legally allowed to do under the terms of the Schengen Agreement, even though a British person with a herbal cannabis prescription would not be permitted to do this; an outrage that was highlighted at the recent NORML UK Cannabis Hypocrisy Protest.
The main event of the lecture was of course award winning journalist and humourist, Doug Fine, author of Too High To Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution. Doug’s book is being hailed as the most compelling argument for the economic reason to legalise and regulate the cannabis industry. In it, Fine explains how crime goes down and revenue comes in in the poorest county in California. The tax figures speak for themselves!
Doug started his entertaining presentation talking about the progress that has been made in the USA, with two States already legalising cannabis and more to follow. Opinion polls in the states increasingly show more people from all sides of the political spectrum supporting cannabis law reform. During his lecture, Doug pointed out that potentially the most important group of voters is the youth vote, citing a 12 per cent increase in voter turnout amongst the youth vote in Washington, one of the states with a marijuana initiatives on the ballot in 2012. According to Fine, this has certainly got the attention of the main political establishment – after that, the US Federal Government ‘surrendered’, “It’s over in the US,” proclaimed Fine, since the number one Federal Prosecutor (the US Attorney General) said the Federal Government would not interfere with States that have legalised cannabis.
Doug talked about how in States where the criminals are taken out of the supply of cannabis, tax revenue increases, access of cannabis to kids is made more difficult and crime goes down.
Doug explained how he comes from a sustainability background, living on a solar powered goat ranch where he milks his own goats and home educates his kids.
The talk was entertaining, as it was informative. I’d hung around with Doug for the previous couple of days, taking him on a bit of sight seeing on the London Eye before the event and a lovely meal at a traditional Kent pub, where we the True High To Fail crew had set up camp, during Doug’s time in the UK.
Rather than give a full write up of the talk, we managed to capture it on my little Sony Camera, where NORML UK’s Greg de Hoedt was able to use my amateur camera skills to edit it and put it up on Youtube. The event also received mainstream media coverage in Vice magazine and NORML UK look forward to holding many future interesting events and talks throughout the UK.
Doug’s book Too High To Fail is also available to buy online.