One year ago, the Psychoactive Substances Act came into force after months of legal wrangling, set-backs, and delays. The law has been widely ridiculed by policy experts, scientists, and even the police, but despite this the Home Office still consider it a success. Their aim was to shut down headshops and appease the Daily Mail, and they succeeded on both of those fronts; the increased strength, availability, and subsequent potential for harm of many of the substances outlawed by the Act is therefore irrelevant. The countless deaths merely collateral damage.
Most of the public discourse surrounding the PSA in the year since its inception has focussed, perhaps unsurprisingly, on ‘Spice,’ the generic name given to Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists, or SCRAs. Spice use has become ever more visible in the last year, particularly amongst the homeless population of the UK. Countless ill-conceived news reports have painted users as ‘zombies,’ due to the almost catatonic state that their drug use can cause them to enter.
This weekend in the north-east of England saw Durham City Cannabis club hosting their first solo event, The DCCC Springtime session.
The event took place in the heart of Durham city beneath the shadows cast by the trilogy of prohibitive power structures: the prison, the courthouse and the police station that tower over the disused bowling green – deliberately chosen as the site from which DCCC plan to lead a revolution.
When thinking of 420 friendly cities and hotspots for Cannabis activism around the world where comes to mind?
Denver, Seattle, Barcelona, Amsterdam… Durham? Could the land of Prince Bishops really become the UK’s Amsterdam?
This week on ISMOKE we take a closer look at how this northern county is leading the UK with its progressive drugs policies and focus on harm reduction and maximisation of the potential benefits that drugs can have on the consumer and the wider society.
The Lib Dems announced today that they support a “regulated cannabis market” in the UK
The proposed policy would include: licensed shops to sell the drug to over-18s, the right to grow at home
The policy also backs the Cannabis Social Club model
The Liberal Democrats have been making waves in the cannabis community following their manifesto launch.
The Party announced that they will support the full legalisation of cannabis in the UK if they are elected, going beyond the medicinal remits that some cannabis activists have been concerned about.
Julian Huppert, who is standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate in Cambridge, told the Associated Press that the UK’s current approach to cannabis was “a disaster,” causing significant mental and physical harm for young people.
The Lib Dem candidate explained why he was in support of a regulated cannabis market: “There are no age checks, and no controls on quality or strength. ‘Skunk’ is widespread and the only ID you need to buy it is a £20 note.
This shows the attitude of a growing number of non-consumers who believe that cannabis should be legalised despite still believing ‘skunk propaganda’ and not knowing their skunk from their medical cannabis (here’s a hint: it is often the same strains).
“Successive governments have ceded total control of a significant public health problem to organised crime.
“The honest and pragmatic response is to take responsibility for this situation and regulate the market.”
Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem candidate for North Norfolk, added: “We are criminalising young people, people have no idea what they are buying so there is a major health risk.
Speaking from a position of empathy, the politician added: “I am personally opposed to drugs and indeed to excessive alcohol consumption because of the health risks, and as a parent I absolutely want to discourage our adult sons from smoking or drinking or other harmful substances but the whole issue is what is the best way of dealing with this issue as the war on drugs has been a catastrophic failure.”
Cannabis is currently illegal, in all capacities, in the UK, carrying the potential for a lengthy jail stint if caught in possession of the medicinalherb. Possession currently holds a potential five years’ jail sentence, while supply could land you up to 14 years.
Will this announcement by the Lib Dems shock the other parties into announcing their own cannabis policies? Or will the Tories and Labour maintain that their current approach to cannabis is working?
What do you think? Have your say and join the conversation by tweeting @ISMOKEMAG
A note from Tyler Green:
Skunk propaganda is everywhere. Even politicians supporting legalisation are talking about “The dangers of skunk” like they’re the Sun in 2005.
This drives me crazy, and I’ll be writing an article about how damaging this is to the legalisation campaign soon.
Few things in this world could ever match up to a mother’s love, and I am in no doubt that prohibition isn’t one of them.
This week on ISMOKE we meet the warrior women – the mothers of mercy desperately fighting to treat their children using cannabis and cannabis-derived medicinal products.
Too often these women who are not only having to fight against the odds, but their doctors, the law and even the very services that have been established to help heal and treat their offspring’s ailments and to protect their health.
Hundreds of people turned up for the first official Durham Cannabis Club 420 event
The successful event was a collaboration effort by Wear Valley Cannabis club, Durham City Cannabis Club, Tyneside Cannabis club and Durham Cannabis collective
There were speakers, stalls and cannabis information available for event attendees
There was no police presence
Professor Mike Barnes and Trev Coleman gave speeches on the importance of medicinalcannabis
While the national media’s attention may have been exclusively focused on London’s Hyde Park 420 event, which attracted thousands of cannabis enthusiasts and campaigners, hundreds of people attended another 420 event (yes, there are other 420 events outside London).
Tucked away behind the city’s cricket club, next to an idyllic canal, the cannabis clubs of the North East gathered on 420, the world-famous day where everyone stops to take a toke and chill.
The event numbers for 420 this year were huge! Well over 10,000 people attended throughout the day.
When people gather in groups of that size they are completely unpoliceable – despite there being lots of police at the event, attendees were in relative safety in numbers, as it wouldn’t make sense to arrest someone for something everybody in the immediate vicinity is doing.
This Thursday was 20th April, a date which has become synonymous with cannabis culture over the past few decades.
For as long as I’ve lived in London, each year, on 20th April, thousands of people attend Hyde Park for a massive smoke out / celebration / protest.
This year was no exception, and also saw the introduction of several other 420 events across the country – we will be reporting on Durham’s event soon.
The protest was large in London, attracting a lot of people. We struggle to estimate numbers, but there were in excess of ten thousand attending the event on a Thursday in London. We saw people beatboxing, rap battling, folk singing, painting, juggling and much more as we walked through the crowd. One status we saw mentioned a figure of 15,000 attendees.
We saw people beatboxing, rap battling, folk singing, painting, juggling and much more as we walked through the crowd.
We arrived just after 12:15, while things were still relatively quiet, with groups of people spread across Speaker’s Corner. By about 3-3:30 the place was packed.
We saw lots of people we recognised, but mostly for brief moments, as there were just so many people out protesting and celebrating cannabis.
I have never seen a gathering like this anywhere else, it was like stepping into a different world. The closest thing I can think of is a 3-day festival I once attended, which had that similar unreal feel to it – and that festival happened to be located in the middle of a forest in the Midlands, not Hyde Park, London.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the media’s attempt to paint a negative light on the event was picked up and suddenly we saw some angry people the following day over the rubbish that was left behind after the event.
What wasn’t stated was that at a certain time the police pushed people off the field, panicking people into a rush to leave.
Greg de Hoedt, Chairman of the UK Cannabis Social Clubs movement stated in a Facebook post yesterday:
Each year we speak with both the Royal Parks and the Met Police about 420 in Hyde Park London.
The Police say they would rather get everyone out of the park as quickly as possible rather than allowing us to get everyone to clean up. They do this by standing in a line and moving across the field in and wall at 5pm while people are still smoking their 4:20pm joints.
As you can imagine everyone gets up in a rush and a panic and leaves not taking all or any of their shit, despite the fact that hundreds of black bags have been distributed.
Still there’s lots of spin opportunity for the papers who can easily snap a photo before people have cleaned up that were there to clean up after 15k people sessioned in one space.
Not hard to put your crap in a bag as you go though the day either! The clean up wouldn’t be so big after
There were also far too many people packed in tight proximity there to keep track of rubbish without designated bins – we saw zero bins on the day (besides what some of the CSC’s brought to take home their rubbish). Perhaps London should have spent slightly less on unnecessary police for the day in favour of some bins and cleaning staff.
We enjoyed the day and plan to attend the next 420 celebrations. It’s also worth stating that there are also lots of cannabis events happening all across the country this summer and indeed all year – keep an eye on social media (or our events page here) and make sure you attend local events to show your support for the legalisation movement.
Finally we want to wish a big thanks to everybody who attended 420 protest / celebrations across the country for getting out there and showing the Government that you believe in our rights to consume cannabis. Now, let’s keep up this energy!
Now, let’s keep up this energy!
You can watch our highlights video from 420 Hyde Park 2017 below
Nordle was the code word Howard used to use when smuggling Hashish from Afghanistan to Shannon Airport in Ireland then routeing it on to Milford, Wales with the help of James (Jim) McCann of the IRA back in the 1970’s.
Cannabis will become a federally controlled, legal, substance on ‘Canada Day,’ July 1 2018
Minimum age for purchase will be 18, as with alcohol
Canadians will be allowed to grow four plants per household.
There is some glorious news coming out of Canada this week! The North American state is set to take a historic step and legalise cannabis for recreational use, on a federal level, next year.
From the 1st July 2018, which is also Canada Day, cannabis will be available for legal purchase for everyone, over the age of 18, in Canada. This includes tourists, which could make Canada the new mecca of cannabis!
Located in the La Rambla area, we headed to Remedy Barcelona to check it out for ourselves when we travelled to Spain for Spannabis earlier this month.
Since we interviewed The Remedy club for ISMOKE, a lot has changed. They are now offering 40 cannabisstrains (at the time we attended), plus extracts and other forms of cannabis (edibles, vape carts etc).