2012 – A NORML year for cannabis

By Chris Bovey

A look back at the year in which NORML came to Britain.

May 2012

Cardiff 420 Global Marijuana March

May 5th 2012 the Global Cannabis March hit the streets of Cardiff to protest against prohibition of cannabis and the unjust laws that discriminate and criminalise those who choose to have cannabis a part of their lives. Over 1,000 people attended the event organised by Des Humphrey and the Welsh Cannabis Social Clubs.

NORML UK is launched. 

Howard Marks formerly launches NORML UK at the Global Marijuana March in Cardiff. NORML UK was founded by a group of activists concerned there was no credible cannabis campaign in the UK, so they contacted NORML in the USA to ask if it was possible to set up a British branch of NORML. The Americans agreed and NORML UK was born.

NORML is the oldest and largest cannabis campaign group in the world.

NORML UK cannabis campaign is launched in Cardiff with Howard Marks

Clark French, Jason Reed, Howard Marks and Des Humphrey at the Global Marijuana March in Cardiff, May 2012, where NORML UK was officially launched.

June 2012

NORML UK web site launched

NORML UK's cannabis web site


NORML UK launches its web site – www.norml-uk.org, and starts recruiting its first members. NORML UK is now officially more than a Facebook page.

Award winning t-shirt company, THTC, collaborates with NORML to produce stylish ethical organic t-shirts.

July 2012

NORML UK contacts all Primary Care Trusts to ask about availability of Sativex, the legal high-strength cannabis tincture that is prescribed to patients in some parts of the country depending on where they live.

NORML UK gets national media attention in the Independent newspaper.

August 2012

NORML UK announces plans to contact all candidates in the forthcoming elections for the first Police and Crime Commissioners to canvass their views on cannabis law reform.

September 2012

NORML UK’s Clark French receives national television coverage with a two minute spot on Channel 4’s 4thought.tv talking about how he uses cannabis as a medicine to alleviate the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

Clark French at the 4thought.tv studio.

Clark French preparing to be filmed at the 4thought.tv studio.


October 2012

A major independent study called for the decriminalisation of cannabis. The publication of a six-year-study from the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) likened cannabis use to “moderately risky” gambling or junk food.

Clark French achieves more publicity for NORML UK with an appearance on BBC1’s Sunday Morning Live show.

Long term cannabis campaigner Des Humphrey is appointed Executive Director of NORML UK, with Clark French as deputy.

November 2012

Our friends at NORML USA make real progress in cannabis law reform. Voters in Colorado and Washington made history by approving ballot measures allowing for the personal possession and consumption of cannabis by adults. Washington’s law, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use (as well as the possession of up to 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, and 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form), took effect on December 6. Colorado’s law, which allows for the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants in private by those persons age 21 and over, took effect on December 10. Regulators in both states are now in the process of drafting rules to allow for state-licensed proprietors to commercially produce and sell cannabis.

Cannabis victories in referenda in the United States.

NORML activists celebrate stunning victories in three US states that helped overturn cannabis prohibition.


Meanwhile, in 2012, laws are liberalised in Czech Republic, Switzerland and Uruguay proposes to be the first country to formerly “legalise” the sale of cannabis through licensed State outlets.

In the Netherlands the new Dutch government finally ditches the hated “weedpass” scheme that would have banned non-Dutch citizens from purchasing cannabis from the country’s famous coffeeshops. Cannabis hero Nol Van Schaik proclaimed, “we don’t a weed pass, we want to pass weed.”

December 2012

NORML UK holds its first public meeting attended by former Chief Constable, Tom Lloyd. NORML UK announces it is putting the finishing touches to its planned Bedrocan stunt to bring over Dutch medicinal cannabis patients to legally spark up outside Parliament, as they can under the Schengen Agreement, together with British patients who have similar conditions yet are denied access to the medicine they need by the British Government.

NORML UK public meeting

Cannabis campaign: NORML UK public meeting.


NORML UK holds its first social trip to Amsterdam in collaboration with United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs and Travelholics.

Commons Home Affairs Select Committee calls for a royal commission on Britain’s failing drugs laws.

Des Humphrey, Executive Director of NORML UK said: “I’m very proud of what NORML UK has achieved in such a short time. We have built the foundations for a successful cannabis campaigning organisation and I look forward to our forthcoming campaigns in 2013, as we build the most successful cannabis campaign Britain has ever seen. In the meantime, I should like to take this opportunity to wish all our supporters a Happy New Year.

“My body, my mind, my disability, my pains, our recreational reason, our spiritual belief, our plant, our meds, let’s make 2013 a NORML year!”

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  1. when you people are not abusing people you seem normal.why did you email me “fuck you” i was making a point,i was not abusing you .i am a med cannabis user,you should not be so rude to people.

  2. Happy New Year to everyone.

    I would like to think that NORML’s aim is for full legalisation and control of cannabis for whatever purpose – and nothing less. I would like to see NORML encourage the public perception of cannabis to expand from just a thing that is mixed with tobacco to make a splif. It can be used as a very important medicine for many conditions – sometimes smoked, eaten, injected or even used as an ointment. If we can change the public view of cannabis then I think we can change the laws.

    I don’t like ‘de-criminalisation’ since it inevitably leaves at least part of the cannabis supply chain in criminal hands and it is not really representative of how a legal system would perform – so don’t think of it as a first step. Legalisation will require some compromises but considering anyone who does anything with cannabis is operating outside the law pretty much any legal framework will give you more freedom and less chance of police attention (even if what you do is still illegal after cannabis legalisation is brought in). We should also get rid of the hatred of the law, the police and politicians that is often shown by advocates of legalisation – I hate cannabis prohibition more than I hate the prohibitionists. Agree with them as much as possible but ask for proper legal controls – currently cannabis is harmful to society and the idividual but only because it is illegal and because people don’t know how to use it safely – we can use the new laws to improve quality and encourage safe usage.

    America is likely to introduce legislation very soon to allow states to organise their own cannabis laws (Just watch and be amazed – Colorado and Washington were just the first step). Once this happens the US will not be able to put pressure on other countries to fight a war on drugs. Countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Jamaica etc will go into overdrive once the police give up the fight and it will get more cost effective to import than grow domestically (so if you think your little skunky grow will make you rich forget it). Even if the UK lags behind we will catch up eventually and users should start to feel the benefit of legalisation in other countries in terms of public awareness, pressure on the government and quality of supply. Many European countries are already on the brink of legalisation so it will happen.

    Much to look forward to in 2013 – who knows where we could be one year from now.

  3. Are humans stupid?

    If someone has built a metal fence across the road you’re driving on, for no good or legitimate reason, what do you do when you come to it? Do you drive right into it, hoping to smash it down and ruin your car? Do you try to push through the gaps in the fence? What about climbing over it or digging a tunnel under it? You could call for others to help you tear it down or take legal action against the person who put it there, while your car stands idly by on the blocked road.

    Or… you could get out of your car, walk around the fence, go through the gate and unbolt it piece by piece from the back, place the pieces on the side of the road, get back into your car and drive on.

    Come on, people, use your brains; think.

    Why are so many people trying to “legalise” a plant?

    The people that tricked Congress into criminalising Cannabis, by calling it Marihuana and spreading lies about it, have all been shown up for the liars they were. The “reasons” they gave to have a plant demonised were all wrong, so the law they conned Congress into passing should be simply over-turned, not fought against with yet more laws to “decriminalise” or “legalise” or “regulate”. Do we do this for any other harmless plant? Do we have laws saying we can’t grow or use trees to get natural aspirin from their bark? Do we have a hysterical health warning or public outcry on apples because their seeds contain cyanide and are listed as poisonous plants? And what of other plants listed as poisonous? Plants like potatoes, tomatoes, rhubarb or nutmeg, which we consume as food?
    What’s next? Government warning or prohibition labels on Daffodils because their stalks are toxic and give people dermatitis?

    I’m tired of these so called “campaigners” for Cannabis. Overturn the unlawful law and return the plant to it’s former status of production crop and natural medicine. No “regulation” needed. That’s for families and local society to decide, not governments. Or do you think your government has the right to dictate what you do in every single aspect of your life? Are they your lord and master? Your God? Are you their property?

    Come on, wake up.

    The only law in relation to the Cannabis Hemp plant, before the prohibition delusion mind-f#@k trick was pulled on you, was that if you had land then you HAD to grow it!
    It’s not like you’re trying to stock-pile Uranium, is it? It’s a non-toxic plant.

    Force the legislature to legitimise their legal and lawful reason for having people criminalised for a harmless plant! Make THEM justify themselves to YOU; their bosses.

    No “permission” required.

    After all, what’s next? Asking permission or getting a licence to slice bread with a knife, but only if you comply with wearing leather safety gloves due to health and safety regulations that say you may cut yourself? What are you, an incompetent child?

    Are humans stupid? What do you think?

    • It could be argued that regulation is necessary to prevent the excesses of a few potentially impacting on the rights and freedom of others, akin to environmental regulations.

      Cannabis can be a harmful ( albeit relatively benign) drug and as a result the only reform that can be realistically achieved is regulation. I actually agree with everything you say, but will the majority accept a tax/control cannabis free for all? We have to find a means which may receive political and wider popular support. Personally some form of regulated/controlled co-op, not for profit, cannabis club network is a good first step. I am pleased that NUK support (and actively promote!) this concept and looking to some positive moves on this front!

      • I think the means for public acceptance must be legal medical cannabis – It worked in America for two reasons:

        1) Any substance which is so medically beneficial and used by people with serious illness can’t really be thought of as dangerous and bad for your health. Millions of medical users in America don’t seem to be reporting health problems as a consequence of using (often high potency) cannabis.

        2) Medical clinics (sometimes ‘clinics’ – essentially private smoking clubs) have offered safe unobtrusive access and normalised cannabis use. It made it part of life just like the coffeeshops in holland (only legal and regulated).

        At the moment cannabis (in the UK) is thought of by most people as another kind of roll-up that is even worse for you than tobacco – and there is a great deal of truth in this assumption. As you say the substance itself is benign but the way it is used is not – and the way it is used is what characterises the substance in people’s minds. Until people stop smoking it (especially in a mixture with tobacco) in favour of vaporisers or extracts then this view will not change. You will not convince anyone that it is a medicine or that it can be used safely and responsibly when there is such fervour about stopping tobacco smoking in the news all the time. We do have our work cut out but firstly we need to change the attitudes and habits of cannabis users before we can gain public acceptance and then change the law. I would hate to see the commonly used tobacco/cannabis mixture become accepted and normalised in our society (and I am convinced this will never happen anyway). It would introduce real health problems when we should be getting real health benefits from cannabis.

        • Good work by phrtao, but I’d like to add a nuance– another thing not uinderstood by the public is that you CAN vaporise with a cheap handmade one-hitter– just hold the flame far enough below the opening that air entering upon the herb is around 385F/197C and wait “19 seconds or so” before letting anything ignite. And two things you need: (A) a long flexible drawtube extension so that the lighting operation occurs far enough from your face that you can see what you’re doing, and (B) a snug-fitting screen in the crater so you can use SIFTED herb particles (easier vaporisation) without “shooters” getting down in the channel.
          At risk of sounding prohib, I think we should join the campaign against HBOM hot burning overdose monoxide “smoking” while reminding everyone to go ahead and find out more about vaporisation (it’s cheaper than you think).

  4. Cannabis is Class C, NOT Class B.

    Please direct your attention to the “Drugs (Reclassification) Bill 2007/8” on the Home Office’s website to see that Cannabis is STILL classed as a Class C substance and NOT as a Class B substance.
    The Bill to reclassify Cannabis as a Class B substance has not yet gone through. It is still at the third stage, namely, the “Committee stage of the House of Commons” or Part C, if you prefer.
    So, legally speaking, Cannabis is SILL classed as a Class C substance.

    Funny how no one is pointing that out in the News, don’t you think?

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