Britain has some of the strictest prohibitions on cannabis of any English-speaking country. Somehow, America’s special friend has figured out a way to be more draconian on pot than the United States.
Medical marijuana is a distant dream—research is overseen and approved by the Home Office, the law-and-order arm of the British government, not by public-health officials—and legal cannabinoid-derived pharmaceuticals can be prescribed only at the doctor’s own risk. If you want to access legal marijuana in the United Kingdom, you must be a mouse.
As in America and everywhere else, there’s a deep and bitter political divide in Britain between left and right. Yet, both the Conservatives in power and their opposition in Labour agree on cannabis.
The official party line is that marijuana is bad and should remain illegal. The only difference is in degrees—and Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister since her predecessor quit in ignominy following the Brexit fiasco, is doing what she can to ramp up drug-war hysteria to Nixon levels.
On Monday, the PM sat for a Facebook Live interview with ITV News, her first dialogue on the social-media platform. One of the 40,000 questions submitted to her by viewers came from a woman who said she suffers from debilitating anxiety, for which cannabis is the only solution. May stood fast by the party line, refusing to entertain legalization—and, true to form, she took a harder line than even Donald Trump.
As a candidate, Trump gave medical cannabis verbal support at least—his record as president is, shall we say, different—but one week after researchers published findings suggesting marijuana could stave off dementia, May declined to acknowledge any medical benefit, suggesting instead that weed is the first step on the road to mental decline and then suicide.
“There’s a wonderful woman in my constituency, Elizabeth Burton Phillips who runs something called DrugFAM, which supports families,” May said on Monday. “One of her twin sons—they both started on cannabis when they were at school and went on to heroin, and one of her twin sons committed suicide. This has a huge impact on families.”
Take a look.
All the typical English propaganda points on cannabis are there: the weed, which leery Brits call “skunk,” is too strong; it makes people crazy; it leads to heroin use.
What May didn’t mention is the awful toll cannabis prohibition is wreaking on her country, where most of the subsequently illegal marijuana is grown by drug gangs who use slave labor.
She also ignored the inconvenient truth that almost half of her constituents want to see cannabis legalized. What’s happened instead is a sort of malignant truce, where police have given up on arresting users, who are then even more emboldened to seek out supply from the slaveholding grow farms.
Reefer madness runs deep in Britain. In the 1980s, a top adviser to Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” and the most famous British leader since Winston Churchill, told her boss that black people in Britain give weed to their babies.
At least one political party is throwing its lot in with legalization. The Liberal Democrats, largely irrelevant for most of the past few decades, have made marijuana legalization a key part of their platform.
Will it work? Will voters punish May for answering a sick person’s concerns with rank nonsense? Will Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn figure out a more sophisticated way to engage May than trolling her Facebook Live events?
The next UK general election is on June 8.