The United Kingdom may be light years ahead of the United States when it comes to open access to health care and their stance on gun control, but when it comes to cannabis, they are woefully behind the times. However, to be fair, their penalties for cannabis possession/distribution are slightly less ridiculous than they are in the parts of the U.S. that have yet to welcome modernity into their lives.
Cannabis is not legal in any form in the U.K., though it accounts for over 60% of drug infractions in the country. Interestingly, a study put out by the European drug watchdog agency (EMCDDA) states that cannabis use has almost halved in a decade. Frustratingly, however, the study hasn’t the slightest clue why.
The prominent theory is that, due to the increased strength of cannabis and the draconian consequences of getting caught with it, young people aren’t as inclined to try it. Again, with studies like this, there is heavy reliance on self-reporting, which can be suspect. After all, you’re relying on people to readily admit to doing something that is illegal in their country.
I know that, prior to legalization in Washington, I participated in several surveys about cannabis use and I lied through my teeth every single time. There is simply no incentive to be honest about breaking the law, even if the law is asinine. Especially for young adults/teens, their interest isn’t going to be in providing stellar data to researchers, their interest will be on keeping their access to whatever channel of cannabis supply they have found.
Some good news: there does appear to be a growing clarion cry from the citizenry of the U.K. to rework the current cannabis laws. David Nutt, a leading drug expert in the United Kingdom and professor at Imperial College London, issued a report comparing cannabis to other drugs (including alcohol and tobacco). His findings mimic those of global colleagues who have found the same conclusion: cannabis is the safest drug on the list and is scheduled as one of the most deadly.
Nutt, for his part had a few poignant comments:
“Tobacco kills older people, alcohol kills younger people, cannabis doesn’t kill anyone. As long as you don’t get caught with cannabis, it’s not going to do you any harm. The criminalisation around cannabis is way more harmful than anything else that can happen with it. We spend half a billion pounds a year criminalising people for cannabis. That money could easily be put to hospitals. All that criminalisation does is create an underclass of people with criminal records who can’t work with the civil service, teaching, the armed services and so what do they do? They do more drugs because that’s all they can do. We are wasting that money and we are also denying cannabis to people with medical problems who need it. It’s a double whammy.”
Sound familiar? Despite the report stating that cannabis use is down in the U.K., it seems to me the country is on the verge of a green revolution.
David Nutt always speaks sense of course - that translating to a "Cannabis Revolution" however looks like wishful thinking at present.
Still we live in hope!
"Frustratingly, however, the study hasn’t the slightest clue why." There are several reasons why that we know of. One is the rise of so called legal highs were anybody can buy a bag of synthetic (example Spice) cannabis that is proven to be many times more potent and dangerous than the real thing and, at the moment at least, not be arrested for it and potentially have their entire life jeopardised.
Secondly is the manipulation of numbers, this may be unthinkable to some but to many others we can see how figures are massaged and fudged to suit a political agenda. After all how do you get an accurate reading when you are asking people if they freely break the law. I'm sure many people are now well aware of the devious nature of our politicians and law enforcement and would be well advised to not broadcast their (illegal) drug consumption.
Lastly is the propaganda machine in this country has been in overdrive since the legalisation movement in America has gained significant ground. Largely thanks to media corporations who we are well aware of having significant links to industries who deeply oppose the legalisation of (often far safer) competition, as well as direct ties to the government. Most of whom have second 'jobs' (pay cheques at the very least) within those same opposing industries.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why reefer madness is still going strong in the UK. The American political system is set up in such a way that the people stand more of a chance of achieving actual democracy (though it doesn't seem like it at times) whereas in the UK we are pretty much under totalitarian rule and if the current bunch have their way it will become an entrenched dictatorship.