It is almost a year since NORML, the world’s oldest and largest cannabis campaigning organisation, opened up a UK Chapter. Next month NORML UK will be holding its first ever Annual General Meeting and Conference.
The two day event is to be held at the Malcolm X Community Centre in Bristol on the weekend of May 18 – 19 2013. Tickets are still available for the event from as little as £20 for unwaged people.
The conference is to be opened by Howard Marks aka Mr Nice who will also be giving a performance of his critically acclaimed one man show on the evening of Saturday 18th May; which is included in the ticket price, making it great value for money.
Most cannabis users will be familiar with Howard Marks, a former cannabis smuggler who is now an international bestselling author. His most famous work, Mr Nice, has now been turned into a feature length film starring Rhys Ifans in the title role.
Howard Marks is an honorary member of NORML UK and is a keen supporter. Howard has agreed to waive his fee for the show, so the proceeds will go towards NORML UK and their campaign to end our unjust laws concerning cannabis in the UK.
As well as Howard Marks, the AGM has an impressive line up of speakers including Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer and Tom Lloyd, a former Chief Constable.
Here are some short bios of the speakers who will be speaking at the NORML AGM:
Annie is a former intelligence officer for MI5, the UK Security Service, who resigned in the late 1990s, along with her ex-partner, David Shayler, to blow the whistle on what she saw as incompetence and illegal activity by the British security services.
Drawing on her varied experiences, she is now a public speaker, writer, media pundit, political campaigner, and PR consultant. She is also now the Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Europe.
She is also a recognised international public speaker on a variety of issues, including security and intelligence, the war on drugs, press and media freedoms, as well as discussing her personal story of being ‘on the run’.
She is the author of the book Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5 and the David Shayler Affair
Tom Lloyd, QPM MA (Oxen)
Tom Lloyd graduated in 1974 from New College, Oxford University, with an honours degree in Philosophy and Psychology. He served for 25 years with the Metropolitan Police Service rising to become the Director of Strategic Co-ordination at New Scotland Yard in 1996. He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM) in 2000. In the same year he moved to Cambridgeshire on promotion and retired as Chief Constable in 2005.
He has worked in the drugs policy field since 2006 concentrating on modernising law enforcement activities in order to minimise harmful unintended consequences, encourage partnership working, promote efficiency and effectiveness and focus on tackling the damage caused by serious, organised criminals.
He has travelled extensively, learning about the problems associated with tackling the illegal drugs market, and has presented to senior politicians, law enforcement officers, government officials and NGOs at the UN, in Asia, North and South America and Eastern Europe. He has devised and delivered drug policy reform seminars for senior police officers in Malaysia and Peru. He has worked with politicians, officials and police in Eire on opportunities to change police practices to reduce harm.
Danny Kushlick founded the Transform Drug Policy Foundation in 1996. He is currently that organisation’s head of external affairs. He has previously worked with various support organisations, covering learning difficulties, unemployed ex-offenders, drug counselling, and homelessness.
In 2004, he co-authored the report After the War on Drugs: Options for Control, which is a critique of current drug policy in the UK and recommendations for reform. He is a regular commentator on drug policy in print and broadcast media – including BBC, Guardian, Observer, OpenDemocracy, Chatham House Magazine (World Today). His contributions can be accessed through Transform’s blog.
Gary has over 20 years of experience working in the field of substance dependence including counselling, outreach work and formerly managing the largest needle exchange project in London. With his unparalleled experience and knowledge of drugs many committees and working groups have requested his contribution, and he has held advisory positions with the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the National Treatment Agency (NTA), the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and Parliamentary advisory forums. In addition, Gary has provided training for members of the RGCP, and has delivered lectures for the MSc in Addiction Studies at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London. Gary has authored a number of informative and educational publications including heroin treatment and dependence, and cannabis, and has presented on numerous drug related topics at national and international conferences. Additionally, Gary has provided over 200 expert reports in civil, criminal, medical and military drug cases, as well as testimony. He also delivers a weekly counselling service in a clinical environment in West London to individuals and groups alike including drug and alcohol matters. Gary has professional memberships with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals, and the Expert Witness Institute.
Before joining Release Rupert worked at the Daily Telegraph and was Head of Content at the online public sector IT publication eGov monitor. He is interested in use of the internet by charities for online campaigning and fundraising. This is coupled with a passionate interest in addressing the global governmental failure to address substance use effectively. He has been instrumental in creating TalkingDrugs, Release’s innovative multilingual web platform to support drug policy reform. http://www.talkingdrugs.org/
Mat is a technical advisor in HIV, drug use and harm reduction with more than 25 years of experience.
He has expertise in: organisational development and problem solving; report writing; communications; resource mobilisation; and high level international advocacy.
Beyond his experience in management and development work, he is also a drugs practitioner, supervisor and coach.
Greg de Hoedt
Greg de Hoedt is NORML UK’s Community Outreach Director and a founder/spokesperson of the United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs (UKCSC’s), the UK branch of the EU Cannabis Social Club model successfully spreading through Europe. In 2011 Greg went to the United States and visited Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington, 4 of the 18 states that allow patients to use cannabis with Medical Marijuana laws where he was able to experience being a patient and to work in the legal cannabis industry. He has gained an international Internet following via his YouTube, CannabisCureTV and website CannabisCure.co.uk. Greg uses cannabis to treat Crohn’s Disease successfully in place of 16 pharmaceutical drugs a day and he is all the better for it to his doctors surprise.
Ayesha Mian is the President of Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK. (ssdp.org.uk) Students for Sensible Drug Policy is a network of young people working to promote drug information and policies based on evidence, harm reduction and respect for human rights. The organisation is undergoing some exciting changes and pushing their message with the help of its talented and hardworking members. Young people are greatly affected by ill-conceived, morality driven drug policies, that more often than not cause a great deal more harm to society than the drugs themselves. SSDP UK provides a voice for young people in local, national and international debates on drug policy.
There is an increasing shift in attitudes towards dealing with drug use and misuse from a criminal justice to a public health issue. With a background in Biomedical Science, Ayesha has a strong public health focus concerning the effects of drug use and drug policies. She is currently studying postgraduate Global Health and is working with Public Health England in the departments previously known as the Health Protection Agency and National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse.
Free Rob Cannabis
The NORML UK AGM will also include question and answer sessions from some of the above speakers.