By James Collins
Norman Baker has issued a statement regarding medical cannabis in the UK. You’ve likely read it, if not; here is a reference for you. There was a great deal of hullaballoo in the community about this announcement, but if you missed it here is a link to the Guardian.
Okay, now you’re all up to speed. Norm Baker said “yay” to cannabis, some functionary spit back “nay”, and round and round the hot potato goes. Some say this is a time to wait and see, and I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is absolutely not the time to wait and see it is the time to increase pressure to the max. Now is the time to squeeze.
Governments like to pay lip service to action in order to get calls for change which have made them uncomfortable to become silent. Rather than praising Mr. Baker for his grandiose and bold statement, now is the time to hold him and everyone else in Parliament to the fire. You want to be compassionate? Be compassionate, not just in words but in action. If you want to help people out, let them have their cannabis so they don’t feel sick.
The Minister out of Wales came back with a statement about expanded Sativex availability for MS patients. That’s awesome, for those MS patients in Wales who happen to be the ones to get this access you’re hearing about. Great, how about everyone else? Medicine is for all, no? Is that not the spirit of the NHS?
What’s going on here is that government is feeling the pressure. The United Patients Alliance seems to have gotten them to bite at the apple, so now is the time to pressure them to eat the whole damn thing. There must be co-ordinated action, as I have previously written about, and this is a great chance to use that action to a very useful purpose.
You need to tell your government that you like what Norman Baker said, and that you want to hear a lot more of it. More than that, you want to see action on the part of the government, not more promises of consideration of actions that may or may not occur. You need to tell them that you’re hurting now, that sick people are desperate, and that this government can make that better. It is up to them.
The first person who needs to hear about your support of Norman Baker and his support of cannabis is the Prime Minister. The Minister has spoken and the Prime Minister hasn’t really done much in response, rather an office boy for the government has responded; that is nowhere near good enough. Luckily he is a public employee and you can tell him that, he can be reached in Parliament, addresses, email, phones, general contacts are supplied here. This is also a means to access your own Member of Parliament, who similarly needs to hear from you on this subject.
The opposition leader also needs to hear about this. While he may seem like an impotent force in the face of the coalition government, there is something to consider. What is the one thing that Parliament does in an expedient fashion? Raise their own pay. That is because everyone on all sides of the room agrees that they deserve to give themselves more money. If they all agreed that legal medical cannabis was required then it would happen overnight.
There are a few caveats here. You have to be polite when you write, phone, email, fax, or make smoke signals to your MP, or the Prime Minister, or whomever. Much as it is tempting to go off on a rant and tell them just how much you don’t think they’re worth the air they breathe, we’re trying to court favor here, so keep the aggression to a minimum, preferably none. I absolutely sympathise with the desire to rip a strip off one of your elected officials, but sometimes you have to be sly rather than direct.
The second thing to consider is the details. Even Norman Baker has made a strangely specific call for cannabis for certain conditions. It is important here that all sick people get treated equally, and that members of government who are not scientists shouldn’t be the ones dictating what cannabis does and does not treat, and in what forms. The experts are on the side of medical cannabis here, there are many documented uses, and Baker draws some fairly arbitrary lines in the sand on that subject.
Stay on topic, please, for the love of God, stay on topic. This isn’t the time to worry about other policy issues, just stick to the subject of Baker, his statements about cannabis, and how this needs to go from words to action. Other fights are for other days, and when we cloud the issues with all kinds of peripheral subjects it robs the effort of focus and credibility.
If you want to write other letters complaining about parking fees, or television licensing, or whatever else, I would encourage that too. Just package the cannabis issue on its own, because the iron is hot out of the coals right this second and a focused strike could make it into a useful shape. It’s just that the idea here is to make these people see that the subject Norman Baker raised in his statements is front and center of a lot of voter’s minds – and an election is looming in the not-too-distant future.
Opportunities don’t present themselves often in this fight, and statements like this don’t happen at all. There is a chance here to push and get the ball a little further up the field. Political opportunity is like steel out of the furnace, it only remains hot and malleable for a short time before it goes cold. This opportunity could be the one that really sets the change in motion, so don’t let it escape.