I believe that we can make real progress this year towards ending the prohibition of cannabis. What we have to do, each and every one of us, individually, is take responsibility. We have to stop complaining and start campaigning.
However just our cause, however unjust our opposition, no one is going to give us the right to cannabis. We are going to have to take it. Take it back from those who took it away from us.
Many of us can point to years and years of fighting for the cause but it is never enough! We have to keep on. We have to welcome new campaigners and encourage them, not take the view that we’ve seen it all before, done it ourselves and why aren’t we getting the credit? We have to welcome our fellow citizens to the war against prohibition, support them, bolster their confidence, build them up, not knock them down.
If the millions of people in Britain who use cannabis were to join together and be counted, we could make change happen! I don’t know whether there are two million of us or ten million. That’s how widely the estimates vary. The Home Office used to say six millon use cannabis regularly. I don’t know. What I do know is that it is an outrage to democracy and justice that we are denied legal and properly regulated access to cannabis, whether we use it for medicine, relaxation or spiritual fulfilment.
We don’t all have to be campaigners but we do all have to be counted. If we want change, we have to be prepared, at least, to sign petitions, to write the occasional letter, to put our heads above the parapet. It’s so easy nowadays. It can all be done online in the blink of an eye but more of us need to do it and keep doing it until politicians understand that they can bully us into silence no longer.
One of the problems of the online world, of Facebook, the forums and blogs, is that we’re just preaching to the converted all the time. We may feel that we’re getting our message across but it’s to the same people over and over again. When you see the disgusting response that Bob Ainsworth had to his brave initiative just before Christmas, when you see James Brokenshire smugly trotting out his prohibitionist agenda, when you see Cameron and his poodle backtracking on all their enlightened and liberal ideas, then you realise that the forces of darkness are set against us. The war on drugs, which Brokenshire fights so enthusiastically, is another Vietnam. It can never be won because it is, in fact, a war on democracy but there will be many casualties along the way. Brokenshire counts the high level of adulteration of drugs on the street as a measure of success. This is the sort of thinking that we are up against. It is perverted. It is evil. It denies truth and science and justice.
It denies people in constant pain and suffering access to the medicine that they need. Even if a doctor has prescribed cannabis, ignorant, professional political oiks who have never done a day’s real work in in their lives, think they know best. Instead they force people towards expensive pharmaceutical products with horrendous side effects but huge profits for their co-conspirators in the corrupt world of Big Pharma and its self-important regulators. As was seen so clearly in America in the last century, prohibition is fundamentally immoral and self-defeating yet our cowardly politicians hide behind it, preferring inaction, oppression and lies to the truth.
So I have asked myself, what can we do to break this stranglehold that politicians have on the truth? How can we counter the crass and appalling propaganda that the Daily Mail puts out? Why does the media love the story of Debra Bell, the mother who blames cannabis for her delinquent and dishonest son? Why is the truth about cannabis so rarely told? Where is the voice of the millions who know the truth?
I return to the divisions there are within our cause. Just as in California, where the growers sabotaged Proposition 19, so we have our own subversive and destructive elements. We have a breakaway group here, an independent campaigner there. We have medicinal users who are eloquent and persuasive on their own account but will not work with others. We have hugely courageous individuals who have campaigned and put their freedom on the line but will not reconcile themselves to co-operation. We have to cut through this. We have to unite, to generate a momentum that means we cannot be ignored.
That is why, just before Christmas, I decided to join the Legalise Cannabis Alliance. I was a member of the original Legalise Cannabis Campaign and I saw how the LCA made strenuous efforts, particularly around the 2005 general election. I believe it was right and effective to put forward our views on the political stage. This is what we must do again.
The LCA is to re-register as a political party and, in due course, I hope to stand as a parliamentary candidate. Realistically, I don’t expect to be elected but I do expect to make our voice heard. I expect our opinions and our views to be respected and given proper consideration. When the Daily Mail or the BBC turns to Debra Bell for comment, I expect them to turn to us as well. When Mrs Bell is on the TV sofa, I want to be alongside her. I want the opportunity to speak the truth in the face of propaganda. If they want to put up eminent professors and doctors as well then I encourage it. Science and independent reason is on our side. The intellectual and scientific debate has been won many times over. Now we must win the political battle and the truth is our strongest weapon. All we have to do is shine the light on it so that the scare stories, the hysteria and the propaganda shrink back into the shadows.
We will be a single issue party with a commitment to de-register once we have achieved our aims. I urge you all to join the LCA. I’m going to do everything I can to make it easier to join. Possibly we need to make it cheaper. Certainly we need to do everything we can to encourage as many people as possible to stand up and be counted. We need to be able to accept card payments, operate direct debits. We need as many as possible to join whether or not they use cannabis. We need to reform the law, regulate supply and distribution and realise the huge benefits as a medicine, as a gentle pleasure and as a new source of billions in tax revenue. That’s the way forward. Reform, regulate and realise.
One of the most repulsive images I saw last year was the fat, conceited Simon Heffer chortling into his glass of wine and saying that we need to “get nasty” in the war on drugs. Well I’ve got news for the pompous, hypocritical boozer and for James Brokenshire and his cronies, nobody’s going to be getting nasty from this side. We’re just going to tell the truth. And we’re going to keep on telling the truth until it drowns out their lies. We’re going to tell the truth again and again and again until we get the right to our drug of choice, to the plant that creates peace not violence, to the plant that heals that doesn’t kill, to the plant that we have a right to use and enjoy as we please. - Peter Reynolds