07 Sep We Are Close To A Breakthrough On Medicinal Cannabis
Rob Wilson MP. Supports Medicinal Cannabis But Opposes Lawbreaking In Public.
I am happy to report that over the summer we have made real progress in our work on medicinal cannabis. I truly believe that we are close to a breakthrough.
At the beginning of the year we developed a new strategy which has proved very effective. Instead of trying to run a high profile media campaign we decided to work on supporting individuals who have a clear and demonstrable medical need for cannabis. This means getting support from their doctor and their MP and then seeking a prescription for a Bedrocan product and applying to the Home Office for a personal import licence. If, as is most likely, the application is refused, this could lead to issuing judicial review proceedings against the Home Secretary to show that the decision is irrational, not to say cruel and unjust.
So why have we adopted what is essentially a ‘behind the scenes’ strategy?
The truth is that in Britain there are neither the resources nor the goodwill from the media to run a high profile campaign. Branson, McCartney or Sting could drop a little petty cash and transform the situation overnight but they prefer to support US or international efforts. Perhaps the reason is the lack of goodwill from the media. Any prominent individual or celebrity who puts their name to the cannabis issue is likely to face a media storm. However much sympathy a story about a medicinal user might attract, the Fleet Street mafia is much more interested in scaremongering and in condemning, abusing and attacking people. As for real science and genuine evidence about cannabis, well that rarely makes the British press. With the exception of Tom Chivers at the Daily Telegraph and Mark Easton at the BBC, there are few British journalists well informed enough even to understand the arguments for cannabis law reform.
MPs have a similar problem. Cannabis is regarded as toxic issue – which really comes back to the media again. In the last week or so we have seen two disgracefully biased BBC programmes. First there was ‘America’s Stoned Kids‘ which had great content but displayed its true agenda simply by its title. Then there was another reefer madness episode of ‘Sunday Morning Live’ where ignorance predominated and blatant manipulation of contributions was once again evident.
What we have found though is that there are plenty of MPs who do care and who are ready to offer support. We have been surprised that often it is the most true blue, old school Tory that is ready to help. Unfortunately, most Labour MPs have been bigoted and unsympathetic. There are Lib Dems on our side of course but also a Lib Dem drugs minister who is at least as backwards as Theresa May and has made the absurd claim that he is “proud” of the UK drugs strategy.
We announced back in April that we had arranged to take a delegation of medicinal users to parliament to meet senior politicians in health and home affairs. We have been rejected twice by Jeremy Browne, the drugs minister, but in the process we have managed to get more and more MPs on our side. We now have a well organised medicinal users panel of more than 40 people, with all their details centrally recorded. One by one we are working with them to get their MPs onside. Now we have significant support from MPs who are members of the Home Affairs select committee. This, I believe, will make all the difference. I expect to be leading the medicinal users delegation to parliament very soon.
In contrast, today, a ‘protest picnic’ is taking place in Reading in a public park called Kings Meadow. The organisers have already managed to antagonise the local MP, Rob Wilson, who says he supports medicinal use but cannot endorse such gratuitous lawbreaking. This is a terribly wasted opportunity.
It is a classic example of how the cannabis campaign shoots itself in the foot. Albert Einstein is famous for his statement “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” While this is properly applied to the idiocy of prohibition, it also applies to the futility of marches, demonstrations and ‘smoke ups’. We have been doing these for nearly 50 years and they achieve nothing except to anatagonise those we should be trying to win over.
These events are nothing to do with campaigning. They are social occasions where people display bravado with their mates by lighting up in front of the police. Usually they’re also lighting up in front of families and young children and the next thing there are teenagers smoking as well.
So while we understand how angry and frustrated people are with the ridiculous laws against cannabis, particularly for medicinal use, public expressions and demonstrations of anger and defiance are the wrong thing to do. Reform has been achieved in Colorado, Washington and Uruguay by patient, ‘behind the scenes’ work – drafting of policies and proposals, lobbying of policymakers, diligent and accurate submissions of evidence. It is the same strategy that now means more than 50% of US citizens have access to medical marijuana. Yes, there have been demos and protests but reform has been achieved despite them, not because of them.
This is why CLEAR has adopted patient, considered and responsible strategies and this is why they are succeeding. Within a very short period of time I believe British people will be able to obtain a prescription for Bedrocan from their doctor and an import licence from the Home Office. Then they will be able to travel to Holland to collect their medicine. Soon thereafter they will be able to get it delivered by post or carrier. Soon after that the argument for producing medicinal cannabis in Britain will be won.