07 Aug Is Anything Any Clearer?

First published in issue 7
of ISMOKE magazine

We’re now approaching the six month mark since the LCA changed its name to Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) and re-launched as a political party with a revised set of aims and objectives.

So how are we doing?

I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in terms of re-branding and promoting a much more serious, responsible and professional campaign. We are now in constant communication with MPs, government, regulators, lawyers, judges, social workers, scientists, doctors, journalists, broadcasters and opinion formers – as well as cannabis users.

That is an important readjustment of priorities. There’s little to be gained from preaching to the choir. We are here to represent cannabis users to achieve an end to prohibition. We are not here to run a cannabis users social club.

Most important of all though is the unity that we are starting to achieve in the cannabis community. For the first time in many years, most people are joining together in the cause. There are still a few who prefer to go their own way and some of the old guard of the LCA are disgruntled at the changes that have been made. Overall though the community is coming together as never before

CLEAR is not about individuals, nor about who gets the credit for any success we achieve. It is about the cause. Inevitably, those who are jealous and resent the progress we have made have launched personal attacks against me. Let me be clear about it. I am quite certain that in due course, someone else will come along and take up the leadership. I am just a custodian of the responsibility for as long as the membership honours me with it. While I am here, I will do all that I can to be as effective as possible.

We are a single issue party. Occasionally I have to stop people using CLEAR to promote their particular political views. You can be Labour, Tory, LibDem, even BNP or Socialist Workers Party, if you want to see an end to the prohibition of cannabis, then join CLEAR. We must all work together, putting aside any political differences, to see the change that we believe in.

That is why we are not aiming to win seats in parliament. Firstly, it’s an unrealistic ambition. Secondly, we couldn’t properly represent a constituency on other political issues. We will be contesting elections but that will be to disrupt the campaigns of those who support prohibition. When by-elections arise, we will try to negotiate written agreements with other parties to support our aims. If they refuse we will campaign against them. We must work intelligently to gain influence, recognising our limitations in both funding and political ambition.

We have made a real impact on the coverage of cannabis in the press. I am pledged never to allow lies and misinformation about cannabis in the media without calling the publishers to account. The process of making complaints to the Press Complaints Commission is tedious and long-winded but it is working. All the national newspaper editors now know that if they aren’t very careful about their coverage of cannabis, they will be dealing with a PCC complaint. Following the Murdoch scandal, whatever now replaces the Press Complaints Commission, you can be sure that CLEAR will be one its first customers.

I have high hopes that the blasting apart of the corrupt relationship between politicians and the media may have a real impact on drugs policy. The Murdoch press and TV stations in Britain, the US and Australia have consistently campaigned for prohibition and spread misinformation about cannabis. I fervently hope that politicians will realise that they can now take an evidence-based approach to drugs policy instead of quaking in fear that they will get a bad press. The vital next step is that the Daily Mail is brought to book just as the Murdoch press has been. Paul Dacre is as much a malevolent force in the British media as anyone else.

CLEAR is also moving forward with a far more responsible approach to cannabis use and safety than our government or any part of the self-serving drug support industry. Tokepure is our new harm reduction campaign that promotes the scientific fact that the most dangerous thing about cannabis is smoking it with tobacco. By taking a lead and seizing the moral high ground we hope to make some impact.

So is anything any clearer? I believe so. We have clear aims and a clear strategy for achieving them. The truth about cannabis is clear. Please join with us to end prohibition now!