The debate around medical cannabis has stepped up a gear in recent weeks due in large part to the very public case of 11 year old Billy Caldwell who suffers from Dravet’s Syndrome, a form of epilepsy.
So lets cut to the chase. Policy reform is inevitable due to the huge amounts of money that are up for grabs in the burgeoning Green Rush (I dont want to discuss the medical v recreational debate here. Let us assume that medical access will lead the way until we reach a holistic model).
Back to the green rush … Neoliberalism is not going to let this untapped resource become accessible to everyday people for free without a fight. The UK is already the largest producer of medical cannabis on the planet. Hypocrisy 101.
As I have said before we still have a blank slate to work from here in the UK. Whilst I would like to see cannabis growing in allotments, in hedgerows, in suburban gardens and as part of urban permaculture projects up and down the country I know that may be a long term goal. However, it would be naive to not see what is happening here. Behind closed doors the political class and right wing think tanks are fully aware of its benefits — Victoria Atkins is a case in point.
It’s about how to maximize profits which means continuing to restrict access to everyday people. How do we legalise whilst preventing people to grow it themselves, or growers just undercutting corporate canna or simply giving it away? An almost unsolvable riddle. Now, of course, I advocate a certain amount of regulation in the form of age limits, clear cannabinoid information and some kind of licensed framework. However this should not mean funnelling money up. So, as corporate cannabis UK © begins to take shape I keep returning to the same thought -
If the question is no longer, should we legalise, decriminalise, reform cannabis policy? … then we really need to ask ourselves what kind of a legal framework do we want to see emerge?
It is positive to see Labour finally begin to unify behind a reform in the law. Perhaps it is just a coincidence that after emailing my local MP Ben Bradshaw, sending him cannabis information and a copy of my dissertation that he came out publicly in support of a reform in the law.
He was not the only one. Corbyn himself has now stated “…the debate is moving on”.
We must begin to explore what a policy framework that is best for society looks like.
1. Grow your own. This is essential and I am deeply suspicious of any organization or individual that doesn’t put this as number one. Now this in itself can come in a variety of manifestations — an affordable annual license to grow x amount of plants or become a member of a cannabis social club.
2. Medical cannabis grown by a designated government dept. linked exclusively with the NHS. This will drive the cost of meds down and save the NHS lots of money. Important in light of the impact of Brexit on the pharmaceutical industry. It could also make the NHS money as private companies could buy it off the government as opposed to the other way around.
3. Incentivise small scale business to prevent monopolies taking complete control. The problem with supply chains in a capitalist system (or a purely socialst system for that matter) is they do not always benefit from scaling up. So, keep it local.
Yes the debate is moving on but it’s still just talk. If Labour, and the Greens (speaking as a Green, Caroline cant do it alone), don’t fully engage now, the neoliberal framework, that puts profit above all else, will fill the void.