31 May Cannabis – A Lottery?

We are hard pushed to find anything good to say about prohibition. Day by day, we see more eminent figures stand up and proclaim the war on drugs has failed. Following a fruitful debate in the Lords, Baroness Meacher and Lord Lawson are now striving for evidence based policy along with the former heads of the MI5, BBC and CPS. Furthering the plight for an evidence based policy is the Beckley Foundation; their published work – Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond Stalemate – is a must read.

In truth, we are still addressing this incorrectly. Despite the fact that the war on drugs has failed, by speaking in these terms, it still plays directly into the hands of the politicians who push the nonsensical angle. The war on drugs is a war on some people; people are at the heart of this debate, and any act of judicial reprisal is an act on lives – real lives. Conceptual wars such as the war on terror and the war on drugs are media tools; the awful brainchild of spin doctors. To conceptualise is to disengage from the actual suffering that prohibition causes. We cannot lock drugs up, but we can imprison decent members of society. We cannot fight drugs, but we can entrap society to a pragmatic approach that is now reserved for extremists.

To look down the ranks at those who fight for change is to get a measure of the morality involved in this contested issue. For reform, we have Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). We also have prolific figures such as Nicholas Green QC (Chairman of the UK BAR council), Sir Ian Gilmore – the former president of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Roger Pertwee; the leading cannabinoid scientist. Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the U.N – the list of reformers is truly enough to grasp the nettle of this debate, and to rub the much needed dock leaf of reform.

Perhaps the unsung heroes of the debate could be business leaders. Sir Richard Branson has long campaigned for sensible policy on cannabis, and has also a fervent campaigner on the ‘war on drugs’ in general.

Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard has also bid for the UK national lottery only to be rejected. His “people’s lottery” seems to be a no-brainer given he would largely run it for non profit. In essence, this is exactly how cannabis reform should work. As reformers, we are not asking for a free market. Perhaps the best lesson to be learned from the drugs debate is that capitalism and marketing should indeed be kept away from any substance. Cannabis simply deserves designated outlets and discreet places that are distinctly unglamorous that fade into the background.
Given the choice, even the most hardened of positions would have to concede that an estimated £6billion would be best handled by an independent and respected business leader than it would the black-market. In turn, we can ensure age restrictions and impart the quality control that has not only spiralled out of control, but has given way to the infamous diesel laced ‘Soapbar’ and the modern epidemic of ‘Gritweed’ that places children and adults alike in the path of monumental harms. Current law has failed, but an independent business model could well safe guard the vulnerable.
So, who would we trust to handle cannabis in the UK? The dealer who agrees with a select few politicians that current law is a good thing, or should we hand over the reigns to a figure such as Sir Richard Branson? Dragon, Peter Jones; dare we suggest Lord Sugar and the likes?

Winning public confidence is to give over to the notion of responsibility. We all have a part to play in this, and could business leaders win where current law and extremists & prohibitionists have failed? It is of no desire to push, condone or encourage substance use. It is simply a case of accepting, to include basic health and safety emplacements, and to collect the revenue. Perhaps we can alert such eminent figures to such a beneficial notion and hope for a more active and coordinated approach in their efforts.

Twitter, perhaps, can be the messenger…