Cannabis: Science not stigma
By Deej Sullivan
NORML UK Medical Campaign Director, Clark French, appeared on Sky News today (15/01/14) as part of a special report on cannabis.
The report came after a Sky News Correspondent gained access to a cannabis ‘factory’ in London, where he spoke to a dealer who claimed that the drug was being sold to primary school children. The dealer, who for obvious reasons was not named, explained that his operation employed 30 people and made £750,000 every three months just from selling cannabis. As well as this he briefly mentioned how different the laws are in other countries and stated his belief that the cannabis trade in the UK should be legalised “so we don’t have to hide what we are doing”.
Naturally the response to this story has been mixed, with many focussing on the claim that primary school children are able to buy and consume cannabis. Clearly this is not a good thing, and nobody in their right mind would argue that children should smoke recreationally. However many commentators seem to have missed a very important point – cannabis being so easily available for young and vulnerable people is a direct result of prohibition.
Leaving the control and supply of any product in the hands of criminals ensures that no regulations will ever be enforced by those who sell the product. It has repeatedly been shown that in countries where the laws surrounding cannabis have been relaxed, underage usage has gone down.
Sky News got a typically bland and unimaginative response from Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker to this story, who told them – “Those who grow and supply cannabis face up to 14 years’ imprisonment. Production of cannabis for personal use is also illegal.
“We are determined to bring the criminal gangs who trade in cannabis to justice.”
However he did also mention that he is “leading a study of drugs policy in other countries”, so perhaps there is a chance he will look at the issue differently to his predecessors.
To counter the views of Baker and others who had their say, such as The Daily Mail’s perpetual perpetrator of Reefer Madness Peter Hitchens (who spouted his usual claims that cannabis is already decriminalised, presumably in an attempt to shift more copies of his ‘book’), NORML’s Clark French was invited to be interviewed live on air.
Clark gave a series of passionate and thought provoking answers to the questions put to him by Kay Burley, and attempted (and succeeded) to put down some of the many myths surrounding cannabis. Most importantly, Clark, as a medicinal user, was able to highlight the genuine need he has to be able to access what for him is a vital medicine.
Hopefully Clark’s interview will have planted a seed in the mind of some of Sky News’s viewers, and will spur them on to do some research of their own and question what they have been led to believe. As he puts it in the interview – “We need to stop basing our policy on stigma, and we need to start basing it on science.”