2013 the year cannabis policy was put on the menu

A look back at the cannabis campaign in 2013

By Chris Bovey

Since the formation of NORML UK in May 2012, this is our first full year review and what a year it’s been, particularly on the world stage concerning cannabis policy.

Thankfully, the new year did not start with the banning of foreigners from the famous coffeeshops of Amsterdam. The hated Wietpas scheme was only introduced in the South of Holland, which resulted in a massive increase in street dealing in places like Maastricht and a loss in city tax revenues.

Following the passing of voter initiatives legalising marijuana for recreational usage in two states in the USA (Colorado and Washington State); we are set to see the first legal cannabis shops open in Colorado on 1st January 2014. More importantly the US Federal Government in the USA pledged not to interfere in state-licensed retail sales of cannabis, with Deputy Attorney General James Cole issuing a three-page memorandum in August affirming that the US Justice Department will allow Colorado and Washington to move forward with statewide efforts to license and regulate the adult marijuana market.

Uruguay is first country in the world to legalise cannabis.

Uruguay legalises cannabis.

Perhaps more significant was the pushing through of legislation in Uruguay, making it the first country to formally legalise the recreational sale of cannabis. Jose Mujica, the world’s poorest president, pushed through plans, despite opposition from faceless unelected bureaucrats like Raymond Yans, head of the International Narcotics Control Board. The first legal recreational pot dispensaries are to open in Uruguay later in the year and it is now legal to grow your own cannabis plants in Uruguay.

Here in the UK, NORML has been establishing itself as the leading cannabis campaign organisation in Britain, with over 32,000 likes on Facebook, second only to the London Cannabis Club.

April 20th 2013 saw the largest pro-pot gathering the UK has ever seen with over 10,000 turning out for the Hyde Park 4/20 smoke-out organised by the London Cannabis Club. Further smoke-outs were organised from far afield as Exeter to Glasgow, with plenty more planned in 2014.

The 420 cannabis smoke-out at London's Hyde Park, April 2013 organised by the London Cannabis Club.

10,000 people maybe more attend the Hyde Park 420 smoke-out in London, April 20th 2013.

The following month, NORML UK held its first ever Annual General Meeting at the Malcolm X Community Centre in Bristol. The event included a wide range of speakers from all sorts of different backgrounds, from former drugs smuggler, Howard Marks to ex-senior police officers Tom Lloyd and Rowan Bosworth-Davies. Over one hundred people attended the event and the board of NORML UK are currently in the process of arranging our second AGM; details of which are to be announced soon.

In October, NORML UK organised the Cannabis Hypocrisy Protest outside the Houses of Parliament. It was held on a slightly cold Wednesday, because we wanted to hold the gathering while MPs were sitting. However that didn’t stop a few hundred people from turning up throughout the day. Prominent MPs were handed with leaflets and a patient with all the correct paperwork attended the event with her legally imported Bedrocan herbal cannabis, along with other UK patients who are denied the same medicine by our cruel Government that currently maintains the lie that cannabis has no medicinal value (although that didn’t stop them from sparking up outside Parliament).

Cannabis Hypocrisy Protest outside Parliament, October 2013.

NORML UK’s Al Pavia explains the law to the police after the Sergeant of Arms sent them to ask us to leave College Green opposite Parliament.

The following November, NORML UK organised another event at London South Bank University (LSBU) with respected American journalist and author of Too High To Fail, Doug Fine, as part of his European Drug Peace tour. The evening also included short presentations by Dr Gary Potter, a senior lecturer in criminology at LSBU and Michel Degens of the Mambo Social Club in Belgium. Doug Fine spoke of the progress made in the USA and proclaimed the drug war against cannabis (in America at least) to be over, and claimed that it is now not a question of ‘if’, but rather ‘when’ it will be legalised. The event was an interesting and enjoyable evening for all involved and received coverage in the respected magazine Vice.

NORML UK was also encouraged by the appointment of Norman Baker as the new Home Office Minister in charge of the Government’s drugs policies. Mr Baker is from the liberal left of the Liberal Democrat party and is on the record of saying cannabis is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco. In November he refused to rule out legalising cannabis, telling MPs ‘we should be prepared to follow the evidence’. NORML UK will be providing Mr Baker with plenty of evidence and we hope he and the Government follow the lead of Uruguay, and some states in the USA, by ending the prohibition of cannabis in the UK.

In the mean time, NORML UK would like to take this opportunity to wish all our supporters a happy new year and promise we will continue to work tirelessly to end the daft and unjust laws prohibiting cannabis in Britain.

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  1. Well, thinking about where we were even just one year ago gives me a lot of hope for a rational approach to cannabis. Here’s hoping the momentum towards the end of prohibition in other parts of the world continues to set trend and finally prompt our politicians to do something that most of the people who pay their wages want.

    Imagine that!

  2. Hi I am chair of Halton Lib Dems and I am on record (Runcorn Weekly News) in saying that cannabis should be legalised. It certainly should be available for pain relief. I would prefer a situation where it can be purchased in licensed premises in a similar way as in  Colorado State. This way, the strength and purity can be controlled and taxes can be used for funding sectors such as the NHS. The current situation primarily benefits drug dealers while causing misery throughout the World. I have never taken illegal drugs and try to avoid taking drugs apart from a few alcoholic drinks. However many people need drugs for problems such as pain relief. Others are attracted to drugs for a variety of reasons.I have copied this e mail to Chris Davies your Lib Dem Euro MEP who has campaigned for the legalisation of cannabis for many years. Kind regards received a email today that gives me some hope was different from most replys I’ve had was asking my local lid democrats about legislation of cannabis .
    Ive copied and pasted for you.

  3. It’s not about convincing Norman Baker – it’s about convincing someone higher up that there is money and votes in it. The fact that Norman Baker is so open to following an evidence based, rational cannabis policy obviously means the idea is being given serious consideration and that they are leaving the door open – We just need to get them to walk through it ! But events may overtake us – who knows what 2014 will bring.

  4. I write to all my local mps and David Cameron and edd millerband weekly and will continue to do so till cannabis is legal.
    If the rest of us that wanted this did the same perhaps ond day they may get the message who knows couldn’t hurt anyway

  5. Come on guys lets keep this up, get a debate in parliament they cant not hear us forever….. The world has asked for change we have a responsibility to make what we love legal… there arguments are in taters Lets Finnish this!!!!!!!!
    End to Prohibition NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Hi all. I have spinal damage (from bike accident 40 years ago) and with Dr’s aid transferring off Tramadol as I’ve been taking it for the last 5 years or so and am physically addicted, to other painkiller medications. How do I approach about medical marijuana/THC or whatever it’s called ?

  7. …. actually accident was 30 odd years ago, not 40 … I’ve only just hit 50 but must admit sometimes do feel another 10 years older lol

  8. Sarnian – I know nothing of legal medical cannabis in the uk however I can recommend that what strains may ease your suffering. The medicinal component in cannabis is called cannibinol and is found in higher concentrations in indica dominant strains of cannabis. A Common strain that you might look into growing is kush. However many strains are being bred for the medical market in America and one in particular has been specifically grown to aid a young girl with chronic epilepsy. This strain is called Charlottes web. Please feel free to Google any of this information as it will lead to much more useful sites. The are also many cannabis culture websites they often feature news of medical breakthroughs. Hailmaryjane.com thenug.com 420.com hightimes.com

    • Thanks for that, I have seen a video about Charlottes Web, but any info is good info. I have been doing some research myself and found that SATIVEX is a drug that is on trial (I don’t think mainstream yet) by the NHS for neuropathic pain in MS & Terminal Cancer patients (look it up on Wiki). I will be asking my GP about it but the cost is horrendous compared to opiate based painkillers.

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