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Pot Policy: America Heads to the Polls, Brits Remain Stuck in Neutral

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This post is sponsored by Seed Supreme.

Next week, millions of Americans will head to the ballot boxes to decide on the future of cannabis policy and legalization across nine states. While five are putting recreational cannabis to the vote, a further four states could be set to give medical marijuana the green light. There are already 25 North American states that permit the use of medical cannabis, while four to date have rolled out recreational marijuana policies. It’s the story dominating every big-name cannabis magazine on Earth right now. And with the way things are looking, it’s largely expected that most—if not all—of the nine states concerned will vote in favor of the new legislation.

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Unfortunately, this is far from the kind of progress (or lack thereof) that’s become the norm across the pond.

A Call to End Pain and Suffering

The past few weeks have given cannabis users across the United Kingdom at least a tiny spark of hope. It’s estimated that there are currently around 1 million medical cannabis users living in the UK—a number that’s accelerating wildly each year.

Last month, a group of MPs and peers announced that they were to begin campaigning for a change in medical pot policy as soon as possible, in order to benefit hundreds of thousands of patients in need. Specifically, they want to see the law relaxed in a manner that will allow patients to access, possess and use small quantities of medical cannabis, along with using their own pot seeds to grow a couple of plants for themselves at home.

The way they see it, there are too many people unnecessarily suffering when the answer is right there in front of them. Should the campaign ultimately prove successful, Great Britain will finally join the 10 countries in Europe that have already green-lit medical cannabis.

It’s all the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, which a few weeks ago published a report outlining its intentions with plenty of important supporting evidence. The conclusion was a relatively simple one. After carrying out a detailed study on data collected from more than 600 medical professionals, patients and world-leading cannabis experts, they determined that cannabis does indeed have beneficial medical properties. Or in other words, it most certainly is not the dangerous and deadly drug the British government continues to regard it as.

Going forward, they would like to see medical cannabis be reclassified and put under the same controls and regulations as other prescription drugs, including sedatives and steroids. This way, upon being prescribed by a medical professional, the patient would be able to collect cannabis from a pharmacy.

The group proposes that herbal cannabis be put in the same category as steroids and sedatives, meaning that it could be prescribed by doctors and dispensed by chemists.

“Cannabis works as a medicine for a number of medical conditions,” wrote Baroness Molly Meacher, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group. “The evidence has been strong enough to persuade a growing number of countries and U.S. states to legalise [sic] access to medical cannabis. Against this background, the UK scheduling of cannabis as a substance that has no medical value is irrational.”

Overwhelming Evidence

The study carried out by the group took into account more than 20,000 medical reports and was overseen by rehabilitation medicine experts. The data collected and analyzed showed that among those using cannabis to help alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy, around 70 percent had tried conventional medication prior to switching to cannabis as a more effective alternative. The researchers did however acknowledge that more intensive and longer-term studies are required to fully analyze cannabis as a treatment for epilepsy and depression, despite having so far delivered highly reassuring results.

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A poll carried out in the UK in July found that more MPs would back the idea of medical marijuana policy being revisited and brought up to date.

“A majority of MPs get the compassionate case for medical cannabis. The UK is increasingly out of step with other countries on this issue,” said British Liberal Democrat politician Nick Clegg, at the time. “The government should listen to parliament and cannabis patients themselves and bring forward proposals for a change in the law.”

Former Health Minister and Tory MP Dan Poulter also highlighted the true importance of getting realistic with cannabis policy, for the greater good of the country.

“This is about ensuring the provision of better care and support for those living with chronic pain, long-term degenerative conditions and, in some cases, people being cared for at the end of their life,” he said. “It is an unnecessary burden for people in pain to have the added pressure of not being able to access a treatment which could provide symptomatic relief, or to be criminalized if they try to do so.”

Pointless Policy

The message being sent by the United States is clear to say the least, where medical cannabis has become not only an important lifeline for millions, but also one of the country’s biggest emerging industries. Medical cannabis campaigners, doctors, patients via weed forums and experts alike continue to plea with the UK government to focus on the evidence available to them and to make a logical decision.

For the time being however, the Home Office has made it clear that they have no intention of decriminalizing what they continue to refer to as a “harmful drug.” Even in the face of overwhelming evidence and common sense, those in charge of creating the laws of the land are free to ignore all of this and pull nonsensical policy out of thin air.

But what makes the whole thing all the more frustrating and pointless is the way in which evidence shows that police forces across the UK are increasingly turning a blind eye to cannabis. Having realized there are far more important things to focus time, effort and tax-payers’ money on, no more than one-in-four people caught in possession of or using cannabis now face any kind of charge or penalty.

That’s according to a study carried out by the Sun, which involved reporters going undercover to see just how attitudes to cannabis are changing. And not just changing, but also how attitudes differ enormously from one part of the UK to the next. Of course, anti-cannabis campaigners have lashed out at the findings as unacceptable and dangerous. Supporters of cannabis decriminalization, however, believe it to be one of the most important steps in the process of getting the government to pay attention to the reality of things.

Putting an example to the above, in the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Staffordshire, just 16 percent of those caught with cannabis are charged. By contrast, the number increases to around 65 percent in Hampshire. But it’s really hardly surprising that there’s such imbalance and confusion across the country, given the massive imbalance and conflicting opinions in parliament.

Source: The Sun

Source: The Sun

While it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing him in power anytime soon, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said at a recent Labour leadership debate that he’d go ahead and decriminalize cannabis for medical purposes.

“I would decriminalize medicinal uses of cannabis,” he said, going on to explain that there “has to be an intelligent approach to this.”

He made it clear that recreational cannabis was a different story, but that medical marijuana is something the public needs access to.

Science vs. Ignorance

A couple of weeks ago, one of the most senior police chiefs in the United Kingdom decided that the time had come for he himself to make his voice heard. Based in North Wales, crime commissioner Arfon Jones stated outright that he doesn’t see there being anything positive or beneficial in cannabis continuing to remain a Class B drug in the UK. He spoke of the overwhelming evidence that medical marijuana can have “significant benefits” for those in need of it, which is precisely what scientists and health experts the world over have been telling us for years.

police-weed-heddlu

Attempting to give his calls a little more weight, he wrote to a number of local politicians and influential figures, in the hope they’d favor common sense over outright ignorance. He was, however, sorely disappointed. The whole notion was shot down in flames by Welsh Conservatives and described as “reckless” by Clwyd West Assembly Member Darren Millar.

“[Mr. Jones] knows first-hand the damaging effects drugs are having on our communities, so it was with some surprise and disappointment that I received his letter,” Millar said. “Cannabis, whether used for medicinal or recreational purposes, is a dangerous substance and would have catastrophic consequences to health and society if it was ever legalized. The commissioner’s calls are as reckless as they are misguided.”

Overlooking the Obvious

What appears to have been entirely overlooked (or ignored) in this, and so many other instances, is the fact that the subject under discussion is medical marijuana. Jones and hundreds of other high-profile figures like him have absolutely no intention of suddenly and freely flooding the UK with recreational cannabis for anyone to get hold of. It is simply an urgent call to allow important medicine to be made available to those who need it.

For Millar to refer to cannabis as a “dangerous” substance and speak of its “catastrophic” effects on communities and society does nothing other than illustrate how widespread ignorance really is among politicians. These people are neither drug experts nor doctors—nor do they seem to have any regard for the science and evidence that back medical cannabis as a massively beneficial substance. As such, their comments represent nothing less than a slap in the face for millions of people who have found medical cannabis to be so much more effective and safe than conventional drugs and treatments.

In a sense, they’re calling all such people deluded. Or liars.

The simple fact of the matter is that there are already around 1 million medical cannabis users in the United Kingdom—all of whom are considered to be criminals by the British government. As there’s no way of getting hold of the cannabis they need legally, that’s 1 million customers for the kinds of drug dealers and syndicates that really do pose a danger to communities and the public in general. Common sense pot policy could put an end to both problems in an instant, but no.

And all because people like Millar who continue to uphold dated and unfounded propaganda.

Leading by Example

The situation in the United States remains something of a paradox, though there’s no knocking the progress being made. By the end of next week, we could be looking at a country with 29 states permitting medical marijuana and nine states green-lighting recreational cannabis. This, despite the fact that cannabis is still classified as an illegal drug at a federal level. Little wonder that half the country is confused as hell about where they really stand with the stuff.

Still, it’s an example the UK could really learn from—millions of patients in need finding their lives improved dramatically by medical marijuana. Huge reductions in prescription painkiller use, criminal drug gangs driven clean off the streets and those who’d be unable to cover their medical bills thrown a lifeline by being permitted to grow their own. Cannabis seeds prove way more affordable and accessible than on-going drug bills.

That’s 29 states currently allowing cannabis in one form or another. And how many have fallen into “catastrophic” or “dangerous” disarray as a result due to cannabis?

In a word—none. Zero. Not a single one of them.

Instead, it’s simply a case of mounting evidence in favor of legalizing medical marijuana comprehensively. High-CBD, low-THC pot is known to work wonders for chronic pain patients, of which there are more than 30,000 in the UK. It is acknowledged globally that cannabis can also help relieve at least some of the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy. Studies have linked medical marijuana with the effective treatment of chronic anxiety, insomnia and various other mental health conditions. It has even shown effectiveness in reversing some of the carcinogenic damage caused to the lungs by smoking tobacco.

And of course, it is unanimously agreed among doctors and experts (including cannabis critics) that weed isn’t in the same ball park as tobacco or alcohol, in terms of its dangers to the public.

So why not ban all three? Why keep contradicting your own advice and conclusions? Too much tax income… of course.

Which means Britain’s pot policy remains stuck in neutral. People continue to suffer all over the country and those that aren’t suffering remain confused as hell as to where they stand. You can buy pot seeds freely, but even think about doing anything with them and you’re toast.

Long story short—a pointless picture where nobody wins.

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