Has Cannabis been Legalised or Gentrified?

Has Cannabis been Legalised or Gentrified?

Originally published by Simpa in Weed World Magazine Issue 142 (November 2019)

It has now been nearly seven years since Colorado and Washington became the first US states to vote to “legalize” cannabis and in the years that have followed those historic votes, another 9 states have subsequently “legalized” cannabis for adult consumption with Illinois becoming the latest one to join the ever-growing list.

There are another 33 states which also have access via some form of a medical consumption model and New York has just voted to decriminalize after voting down corporate legalization.

Since the implementation of these monumental changes in the US, there has been a global shift in attitudes towards cannabis and other previously demonized and stigmatized substances such as Psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA. These initial baby steps into this brave new world certainly haven’t gone unnoticed by the social elites, cultural engineers, financial demigods, and the heads of industries that have long since owned and operated this neo-liberalistic nightmare of a society we find ourselves currently inhabiting.

The formation of policy think tanks, consultancy agencies, and other specialized businesses signifies that the commodification and ultimately the gentrification of cannabis has begun. This white-washing and gentrifying isn’t anything new, it is part of reefer madness propaganda that stretches back into our recent history and the racist roots of prohibition. The demonization of cannabis that was generated in the first half of the twentieth century led to the arbitrary distinctions we now use to classify the various subgenus of cannabis under prohibition. The categorization of Cannabis Sativa L into the ambiguous and ill-fitting terms of Hemp and Marijuana in the US and Hemp, Herbal cannabis, and Skunk here in the UK is an insidious attempt to rebrand and commodify certain components, strains, and functions of the plant. While still being able to use its continued prohibition to disproportionately target and decimate the lives of ethnic minorities, the poor, disenfranchised, and the sick and dying.

When we look back at our history it is evident that there previously was no such distinction between these cannabis subspecies in the UK. Indeed, the hemp that Henry VIII mandated be grown and that could be utilized to pay taxes will of most certainly been considered cannabis today as it undoubtedly would have contained large amounts of THC and other currently criminalized cannabinoids. The rigging and sails on the ships that stole the lands that created the British empire were all cannabis and not hemp as we would know it today.

The arbitrary limitations placed on the cannabinoid content of cannabis is a consequence of prohibition and one of the single largest impediments to the cultivation of a truly prosperous and sustainable global ecology and economy. Instead what we are seeing today here in the UK is the land-owning gentry seeking to grow hemp under license from the home office to profit while the poor who do the same thing to survive benefit sanctions by cultivating cannabis in their own homes are still getting targeted, raided, and arrested. Creating yet another classist divide in an already deeply divided country.

These arbitrary limitations allowed industrialists to continue utilizing and profiting from cannabis’ industrial properties while continuing to criminalize the subgroups that choose to consume it for its intoxicating qualities. As is epitomized in the below quote from senior Nixon advisor John Ehrlichman.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. Do you understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did”.

This current incarnation of corporate “legalisation” does much the same thing by perpetuating this class warfare. It allows corporations to continue to make tens of millions in profits while millions of innocent consumers, cultivators, and political dissenters continue to be criminalized and persecuted by their governments. The gentrifying of cannabis is most obvious in the emerging global CBD market, which is expected to be worth over $20 billion globally in the coming years. Cannabidiol has exploded into the public consciousness in recent years but it is considered just another passing fad by a great deal of the companies that are out there today. They’re simply there to cash-in on the latest trend adding minute amounts of CBD to everything and anything. Such as clear plastic water bottles which means that the fragile compound found within has degraded long before the consumer has chance to consume it) but hands down the weirdest product that I have seen to cash-in on this craze is the hypoallergenic CBD infused pillowcases.

The lesser-psychoactive cannabinoid has in recent years been hailed as a treatment for everything from Anxiety to Alzheimer’s disease and has become that popular that chains such as Holland and Barrett are now even stocking it. This is in my opinion simply creating another classic boom and bust scenario as we’ve seen in housing and technology.

I feel that the only way for CBD to remain relevant is for cannabis to either not be decriminalized or be legalized. This creates an incentive for these companies to either back ubiquitous legalization or actively block decriminalization to protect their share of the market. The UK recently saw its first conviction for the sale of CBD oil containing too much THC. I think it’s safe to say some sweeping changes are coming to the UK market. This case reiterated the current law and classification in the UK prompting several shops to simply cease selling CBD/hemp flowers and sell off remaining CBD oil brands that are currently in contravention of the misuse of drugs act 1971 – which is frankly the majority of the current market as a recent study found that half of the CBD products being sold in the UK does not contain what it says on the label, with many having a lot less of the cannabinoid than claimed and many having illegally high levels of THC in them.

The growing CBD market is emblematic of the gentrifying and co-opting of cannabis by the same vulture capitalists, bankers, and industrialists who sat on the fence for decades and watched as countless activists, advocates, patients, and consumers were oppressed, persecuted, and demonized by their own peers, healthcare professionals, and governments. They do not deserve, nor should they be allowed to profit from any part of the plant while there are still people being locked away in cages for trying to do the same damn thing.

The legal CBD industry is enriching and empowering individuals and companies to dictate and determine how to legalize THC and the rest of the plant for personal profit. We already know that there are representatives from corporate conglomerates from Canada, America, Israel, and others that are working with some rather dubious individuals and shady organizations here in the UK that are utilizing the obscene wealth that they’ve generated in their domestic markets to pay off right-wing British politicians and policymakers to set up think tanks, policy groups and to orchestrate slick media campaigns to dictate and determine drug policies that profits them and not the people they proclaim to fight for and represent.

Just look at the media campaign to legalise access to cannabis for medicinal purposes that took place in the summer of 2018. It was instrumented to get the UK to allow private prescriptions and bring companies like Tilray and Bedrocan into the UK’s ever-growing “medical cannabis” market to compete with the world leader and the Conservative’s favorite cash-cow GW Pharmaceuticals.

GW is arguably the proxy progenitor of the recent resurgent wave of gentrification by showing the rest of the world how to create a legal cannabis monopoly while still proliferating reefer madness propaganda and financing campaigns to ensure that cannabis remains illegal – maximizing profits and maintaining their global dominance as the world’s largest exporter of “Medical Cannabis”

This model of corporate legalization creates some rather unique challenges and unexpected negative consequences. It detrimentally affects the national and local drug economies that have for decades supplied patients and consumers with cannabis, providing jobs and an income for tens of thousands of people up and down the country many of whom would be locked out of a legalized marketplace here in the UK.

The loss of earnings to so-called street dealers and criminalized growers that have risked their liberty for the people for half a century during the dark days of prohibition is something to consider when looking at implementing any legalization model. The same people that have bravely fought for legalization are too often the same ones harmed by the takeover of corporate cannabis as they’re demonized and ostracized by the suits that now run the industry, often (ironically) for having criminal records for working with cannabis.

Under these new systems of strict licenses and corrupt governing bodies, most of those people have become even easier targets as the authorities now have additional funds and control systems to help target them and news agencies to demonize them further helping to protect corporate profit over the rights of the people. Just take a look at what is happening in California, they’ve deployed the national guard to help root-out “illegal” cannabis grows and unregistered farmers destroying tens of thousands of plants.

The corporate chokehold that big business has over the entire state means that thousands of farmers, dispensaries, dealers, and delivery services that would otherwise thrive in a truly legalized system are being targeted, shut down and raided to protect the nauseatingly high profits of “Big Green”.

These corporations are simply here to take the consumers’ money and they’re using it to bankroll corrupt politicians and fund deceptive and divisive media campaigns to disrupt campaigners and direct the progression of drug reforms to financially benefit them and there narrow self-interests above that of the public, consumer or patient.

Show me an example of where cannabis has actually been legalized and not just commodified for vulture capitalists and the corrupt greedy men that govern us to enrich themselves. Not easy, is it? Take, for example, the great white north. Canada has been put on a pedestal recently as the model to follow but Canadian “legalisation” comes with 45 laws and harsh financial and physical penalties for breaking them. It also seeks to actively lock out the very same activists whose blood, sweat, and tears changed public opinion and got it legalized there in the first place for them to profit off.

These days international drug dealers, sorry ‘import/exporters’ wear expensive business suits, fly first class and don’t ever get high on their own supply – or anyone else’s for that matter. As most of the top individuals in this 21st century gentrified cannabis industry has never consumed cannabis nor ever intend to either.

How is it right that the suits that have no idea, indeed no inclination, about the diverse rich history and vibrant subculture that has thrived for decades despite the war on drugs, despite reefer madness, and all the pernicious lies of prohibition and the vile rhetoric that continues to demonize successive generations of consumers be allowed to dictate its fate?

So, if cannabis is to be relegalized anywhere it must first honor and recompense the victims of the war on Cannabis. This must be our highest priority – not profiting from the introduction of prohibition-lite policies. Ultimately, it is my opinion that cannabis has not yet been legalized anywhere in the world. It has, however, been commodified, monopolized, and gentrified by the very same people that have spent decades demonizing and destroying the lives of its defenders.

By Simpa

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Pondering the Profitability of Prohibition

Pondering the Profitability of Prohibition

Originally published by Simpa in Weed World Magazine Issue 143 (January 2020)

Long gone are the days of tie-dyed clad hippies preaching peace and love from the pulpit of the plant. Their long wavy hair and baggy clothes replaced with trendy haircuts and fitted business suits. Their old mantras of love and equality have given way to those of legislation and equity.

As multinational companies begin the inevitable process of commodifying, capitalizing, and conglomerating the cannabis industry we are left to ponder how did one of the most prolific c and demonized plants on the planet become one of the most profitable?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade you’ll be aware that Cannabis is having a real renascence right now, but what you might not be aware of is just who is behind this recent resurgence in research and the pushing for the introduction of prohibition lite policies under the guise of legal reform and the so-called legalization of cannabis.

What has changed in the minds of conservative politicians and voters that means that they now support cannabis policy reform? Well, one word: profit. The conglomerates that have emerged from the smoke clouds of the uncertainty of law changes in America and Canada are exerting their influence and power over emerging markets such as in the UK. They dominate the landscape and dictate the direction of reform to best benefit their corporate interests.

They are pushing propaganda and lies to further their own agenda of monopolizing the market and attempting to control the opinion of the populous and the supply of Cannabis into emerging legalized nations. There are plenty of men and women in prison today for attempting to do exactly that. So why are they incarcerated while the suits are glamorized and immortalized on the pages of glossy magazines? Simply put they’re the wrong color, class, or creed.

The consumption and trade of cannabis have been going on for several millennia longer than we could ever know, however, it’s taken until this millennium for the ruling classes to truly get a hold of the market and figure out a way to capitalize and commodify its trade to increase their power and wealth.

The British have quietly been at the forefront of the international drug trade for centuries now. It all started back in the 1800s when the consumption of a novel little herbal brew known as Tea increased some 10,000% thanks mainly to the tacit endorsement of royalty and nobility who were arguably the celebrities of their day and rather keen on the newly imported brew.

This vast increase in consumption showed the British industrialists that trading commodities like drugs were not just highly profitable but also a great way to control and restrict their sale and supply of those substances. The rate of consumption speedily spiraled leading to the British having to secure their own trade routes – which they did by incorporating the East India Company – negating the need for existing trade deals with the Portuguese and Dutch. The trade became so lucrative that at one point two-thirds of the company’s profits came from the taxation of predominantly lower-class consumers of tea. The drink became that important to the nation that the government demanded that a year supply always remains in stock.

The exorbitant cost of importation and the trade door with China remaining ajar meant that the British had to get creative in the way they went about off-setting the high cost of its escalating habit. Therefore it’s no surprise that the British decided to increase its illegal opium trade with the Chinese – leading to the opium wars and what the Chinese now refer to as “The century of humiliation” The consumption of tea became that prolific that it started to affect the profits of another popular drug – namely Alcohol. This put a great deal of pressure on King Charles II to levy a tax- which by the 1750s had reached as high as 119% leading to tea smuggling becoming commonplace in the country.

Interestingly, when first being sold in Britain in coffee houses the proprietor would often tout a variety of virtues of tea proclaiming that it “makes the body active and lusty” somewhat reminiscent of all this fancy well-polished CBD marketing that we are currently seeing pop-up all over the world. It’s also curious to note that originally tea was considered a medicine in China before later becoming the national drink.

Tea as with most of the drugs that twenty-first-century living relies upon are cultivated, created, and commodified by some of the most impoverished communities on earth yet they make the least from the global drug trades – both legal and illegal – be it chocolate, caffeine, or cocaine.

This experience taught the British predatory classes that trading in drugs was not only highly profitable but also a good way to siphon funds from the lower classes helping to keep them impoverished and thus easily manipulatable.

PErfecrting this practice would position them perfectly to monopolize and dominate the “Indian hemp”(Cannabis) trade. In 1798 the British signed into power a law restricting the cultivation or sale of cannabis or cannabis-based drugs/preparations without first obtaining a license.

The regulation was adopted as the legislation stated “with a view to check immoderate consumption, and at the same time to augment the public revenue.” We are hearing the same argument in chambers today. During the British colonization of India, there were native-only asylums filled to the rafters with dangerous “ganja smokers.” In truth they weren’t psychotic or dangerous they were simply deemed unruly by the British colonialist occupiers for their consumption of cannabis.

By the end of the 18th century, there were headlines in local papers proclaiming that “Murderous assaults by individuals under the influence of Indian hemp have been somewhat frequent” very much reminiscent of the red top press today. Fast forward a few centuries and not much has changed except corporations are now the new governments.

Board rooms and the halls of power are populated with conservative and right-wing individuals seeking to plunder and profiteer from the partial dismantling of the monolith of prohibition. They’re pushing to “legalize” cannabis not because it is the right thing to do but out of greed and desperation. It is a vain attempt to continue their control paradigm and capitalize on the inevitable impending ubiquitous relegalization of cannabis.

The rationality of the prohibitionist is to attempt to justify their own intrinsic racist/fascist/classist ideology and inclinations by claiming that they are preventing these drugs from causing harm when it is painfully and abundantly obvious that the policies of prohibition do far more harm than any substance ever could.

It just goes to show that this justification has always been a misnomer – they do not care about preventing harm, they only care about perpetuating profit and maintaining power at all costs.

The emerging modern cannabis industry suffers many ills whose pathology is rooted in the racist origins of the war on drugs. It is evident in the racial, ethnic and cultural disparities between those who own and operate the dispensaries, farms and facilities and those who simply work in them who make up the quasi-legal framework and infrastructure of the world’s fastest growing industry.

With the ability to control the creation, consumption, and trade of illicit drugs through restrictive and prohibitive legislative policies dwindles. The new nations or corporations of today are attempting instead to utilize good-old-fashioned capitalism to continue their centuries-long monopolization of the global drug trade. Whereas before the profits from the drug trade were illegal, under the modern pharmacological paradigm it is not just perfectly legal it’s considered good business practice to regularly increase the number of users and the volume of their consumption each fiscal quarter.

It is this mechanism that has propagated the opioid crisis we are currently witnessing play out across the western hemisphere. The current profit motive incentivizes international drug cartels and companies to intentionally create lifelong customers and addicts out of some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society.

This adjustment to the current cultural climate and attitudes has the added bonus of helping to launder their ill-gotten gains from industries that have directly benefited from the continued prohibition of cannabis as a multi-purpose, renewable industrial resource.

The war on drugs has long since perpetuated middle-eastern terrorism through the continuation of the scarcity paradigm. If cannabis was once again ubiquitously relegalized then the era of war for limited resources such as oil or minerals would be over.

So, who are the people that are profiting from prohibition as it stands today? Well, there are many but the major ones are Big pharma (a trillion dollars), The fossil fuel industry ($4.65 trillion), the Energy sector ($6 trillion), and War ($2 trillion). All of these industries are going to be unequivocally changed and reshaped by the reintroduction of cannabis back into humanity’s global toolbox.

The villainous ignorance, vicious hatred, and propaganda of the prohibitionist have disrupted, destroyed, and devastated the lives of cannabis consumers and their families for nearly a century now and we’re expected to just roll over and let them co-opt, commodify, and capitalize on a resource that they continue to vilify and demonize us for consuming?

Honoring the victims of the war on drugs both past and present should be our highest priority not profiting from the retooling and redefining of prohibition. Show me a single example of where cannabis has actually been legalized and not just commodified for vulture capitalists, corporations, and governments to perpetuate the same old classist machinations. They are utilizing the system to disadvantage certain ethnic and socioeconomic groups and classes, thereby handicapping their efforts to enter the blooming industry before they’ve even begun.

This transition to prohibition lite policies is an insidious attempt to retain the social control paradigm that has determined the direction of human development for decades now. Prohibition is profitable because they can dictate the level of supply available to the population to consume and determine who is authorized to deal and trade those substances. Cannabis on the other hand has now become far too expensive to police and far more profitable to commodify – hence the tide change in policy.

This I believe is one of the primary motivators behind the conservative establishment’s volte-face in attitudes towards cannabis law reform and their attempted co-opting of a culture and the killing of a rich and vibrant community.

Ultimately, diversification through the “legalization” of cannabis is the only hope the owners and operators of our society have to remain relevant and ensure renewed revenue replenishes their robbed riches. It is my sincere hope that these vulture capitalists and neo-liberalistic prohibitionist profiteers play no part in the planning and forming of the new post-prohibition paradigm. It is time to end the war on drugs once and for all and utilize the vast funds saved and generated to rebuild, regrow, and reconnect our devastated communities.

The first step must be to liberate our brothers and sisters that are still victims of the war on drugs. Pardon and expunge their records and pay reparations for the time stolen from them by the draconian and antiquated war on us.

By Simpa

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Fasten Your THC’T Belt

Fasten Your THC’T Belt

Originally published by Simpa in Weed World Magazine Issue 145 (May 2020)

So this one might be a little controversial – but its a conversation that I believe is long overdue and one we desperately need to have.

“Don’t drink and drive – smoke and fly” is an expression that you’ll often hear from cannabis consumers when discussing the use of cannabis while or shortly before operating a vehicle, but how safe is it to consume cannabis and get behind the wheel?

Over the past decade, the acceptability and the normalisation of cannabis has increased greatly with doctors, politicians, celebrities, athletes, and many more “successful” professional individuals are now freely open to publicly discuss their personal and professional consumption and advocacy of cannabis as an ethical, efficient, and effective medicinal alternative to the myriad of dangerous, destructive and potentially lethal drugs that are currently available on the market.

We have had a rather black and white view towards drug-driving on illegal substances for many years now. Illegal drugs are dangerous to drive on and legal ones aren’t as long as you have permission by way of prescription. Yet most of the drugs that are licensed and regulated through prescription are perfectly fine to continue to consume when driving as long as the agreed dosage is followed and that the consumer themselves determines that they do not feel impaired.

Contrast that with an individual consuming those exact same substances recreationally and legally they would always be considered impaired regardless of dose or whether they themselves were actually incapable of safely driving. This highlights a glaring issue with this current system – one that needs addressing immediately before more lives are lost or ruined.

In the UK, as in many other countries, there is a legal driving limit for the majority of licensed prescribable medications that would still be considered illegal recreational substances when consumed without professional authorisation or permission. Ketamine, Amphetamines, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Heroin, Oxycodone, Valium, and many other substances have an acceptable legal limit of intoxication when operating a vehicle via prescription.

It seems to me unusual that we have specific drink and drug driving laws when we already have legislation that governs the safe usage of a motor vehicle. For example, a driver may be impaired by consuming food at the wheel. A 2012 study from Leeds University showed that driving while eating reduced reaction times by around 44%Yet it isn’t illegal in the UK to eat and drive nor have we felt the need to draft arbitrary guidelines and legislation to attempt to qualify exactly what can and cannot be consumed at the wheel. The emphasis is simply on the driver to do what they feel is safest in any given situation. You may, however still be pulled over and could even be charged with careless driving if an officer deems you were driving without due care and attention. I feel this is a far more pragmatic approach.

With regards to Alcohol in the UK, a breath sample with a detectable level of 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres is considered intoxication and will see you arrested for drink driving. This feels rather arbitrary when you consider the multitude of variables that determine individual impairment.

The current legislation fails to take into consideration tolerance, metabolism, diet, stress levels, and many other factors that play a large part in determining to what degree a consumer is affected by their consumption. Don’t get me wrong I am not advocating for the right to drink-drive – I am simply stating that the current system doesn’t do enough to empower consumers to be aware of any potential impairment.

There is plenty of emerging evidence that is showing that the ignorance and stigma of cannabis prohibition continue to govern the creation of new legislation – just look at Canada’s new system. As of October 17th, 2018, it has been legal in Canada for all adults (over the age of 19) to consume cannabis. This has meant that the country has now implemented nearly 40 new laws and strict legislation to prevent what lawmakers feared would be a pandemic of drug driving.

This hasn’t materialised for a number of reasons. The most obvious one is that Cannabis is not Alcohol. Consumption doesn’t affect decision making in the same way at all. A driver that is too high knows that they’re too high to drive and will simply wait or make other arrangements -whereas the brain of a drunk would trick them into thinking they were not as a drunk and capable of driving safely

The same applies to “medical cannabis” as it does for other prescription medications. So impairment is determined by the consumer and the continuation of the agreed dosage not from arbitrary guidelines. It is interesting because I have personally seen documentation in the UK that states that a “medical cannabis” patient can operate their vehicle under the influence as long as the cannabis they consume is the prescribed strain/product stated on their prescription but that they would be impaired if they used “street weed” or grew it themselves.

A recently released study conducted by the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada seems to suggests that the current cannabis-impaired driving penalties may be too strict as they rely to heavily on simply detecting the presence of THC and not determining actual impairment of motor skills.

The study which was recently published in the journal Addiction also compared the impact of other currently illegal drugs and alcohol on vehicular collisions. The study analysed blood taken from more than 3,000 drivers who were treated post-crash in BC hospitals between 2010 and 2016. Taking over 2,300 individual accident reports – including 1,178 in which the driver was ultimately deemed responsible for the crash.

The analyses revealed that there was no increased risk of causing an accident when THC levels were below five nanograms per millilitre – that being said levels higher than that were found to marginally increase the risk. However, given that only 20 samples had higher amounts of THC that could be significant or just a statistical anomaly.

When cannabis is vaporised or combusted the levels of THC in the blood increase greatly. They again begin decreasing to two nanograms per millilitre within four hours of smoking. The team also noted that for edible products the drop in detectable levels was similar but took about eight hours to return to current legal limits.

In the UK the police can stop you and make you do a ‘field impairment assessment’ if they think you’re on drugs. This is a series of tests, for example, asking you to walk in a straight line. They can also use a roadside drug kit to screen for cannabis and cocaine – other drugs require a blood sample taken back at the station.

So what happens if you’re caught over the 2 nanograms per litre in the UK? Well, it’s rather similar to drink driving or other drug driving offenses. If you’re convicted of drug driving you’ll get: a minimum 1-year driving ban, an unlimited fine, up to 6 months in prison, a criminal record, and your driving license will also show you’ve been convicted for drug driving for the next 11 years.

So although the science is still out as we wait for further unbiased evidence and research we must have a rational and adult conversation about how cannabis affects the average consumer’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The common argument used to justify the incredibly low threshold for intoxication is that alcohol impairs therefore cannabis must also impair. This is an oversimplification of the situation as the tolerance of a daily consumer is much higher than that of an occasional or first time user.

This is comparable to a first time or occasional tobacco consumer that would be affected by a “rush” that could temporarily impair them and reduce their ability to safely operate a vehicle. Compare this to a daily habitual user who would be unaffected by this temporary. The same is true with driving when stressed or highly emotional but yet again we do not have specific laws to restrict people driving when in those heightened states.

The advent of automated and self-driving cars means that in the near future this argument will become rather mute. We already have the technology to create automated vehicles with integrated breathalysers, body language reading software and sensors, and saliva analysis equipment to detect and determine impairment. This approach could mean we would protect drivers by taking appropriate action instead of punishing the driver. The car would simply determine the drive to intoxicated and switch to self-drive mode transporting the driver safely to their destination with no risk to themselves, other road users, or pedestrians.

Ultimately, detection and impairment are two very different beasts, and far more needs to be done to ensure that safe and competent drivers are not unfairly criminalised by the creation and continuation of legislation borne of ignorance, pseudoscience, and the lingering hangover of a century’s long racist, classist, and the fascist war on drugs.

By Simpa

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Exploring the debate between Medical & Recreational Cannabis

Exploring the debate between Medical & Recreational Cannabis

Originally published by Simpa in Weed World Magazine Issue 141   (September 2019)

William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, an Irish physician, is credited with first bringing knowledge of the medicinal benefits of consuming cannabis to the west. While working abroad in India in the 1830s he discovered through experimentation, observation, and research that a herb widely consumed by the locals was, amongst other things, a rather effective analgesic and anticonvulsant. Upon his return to Europe in the 1840s with a sizeable cargo of cannabis seeds he began cultivating, extracting, and creating various preparations of the plant.

These were then used to treat a plethora of ailments and illnesses – becoming so popular that by 1850 it was placed in the United States Pharmacopeia and became a popular ingredient in most pharmacological preparations prior to the discovery of drugs such as aspirin in the late 1800s. Cannabis has been utilized by humans around the world for tens of, if not hundreds of thousands of years to treat all kinds of conditions and diseases.

Prior to the prohibition of cannabis, all use was considered medical or having medicinal benefits. It is only really since the advent of the war on drugs that there has been this arbitrary distinction between so-called medical and recreational cannabis consumption.

This is the same divisional tactic and rhetoric that has been used in the debate about the many industrial applications this plant also possesses as authorities continue to proclaim that hemp and cannabis are different plants and should accordingly have separate legislation governing them. Allowing certain parties to massively profit while restricting access to others – now why does that sound familiar?

The sustained smear campaign conducted against cannabis by sundry of industrialists, misguided moral crusaders, and easily corruptible governments has ultimately led to the complete criminalization of the consumption and utilization of any part of the genus Cannabis Sativa L without prior expressed permission and the acquisition of often rather expensive licenses from government departments like the USDA or British Home office.

In recent decades, however, there has been a resurgence and renaissance in awareness and knowledge about the medicinal benefits and effects of consuming cannabis both prophylactically and to help reduce, relieve and manage the symptoms of a multitude of modern conditions, diseases, and illnesses.

The first modern medical program was created in California back in 1996 with the passing of Proposition 215 also known as The Compassionate use act of 1996. This allowed for the first time since the start of the prohibition for cannabis to be prescribed by a doctor to a patient for the treatment of a limited number of ongoing conditions such as HIV, Aids or to treat the side effects of toxic cancer treatments and drugs. This was later expanded to include back pain and migraines

Two conditions that became far more prevalent in the preceding years as citizens with conditions not on the qualifying list had to suddenly have these other conditions to gain access legally. This was also the first time in law that a distinction was drawn between regular cannabis consumption and the use of so-called “medicinal cannabis” Two decades later and the golden state has finally legalized cannabis for adult consumption with the passing of “the Adult Use of Marijuana Act” or Proposition 64.

This means that people suffering from conditions that could be helped by cannabis but who were not on the approved list can finally legally benefit from consuming cannabis. This effectively gives all adults access to cannabis and the right to choose to consume it to aid or improve their lives.

This has created the road map that has since been adopted and followed by many countries including most recently Canada who first granted limited medical access back in July 2001 and have subsequently now followed California’s lead by “legalizing” their adult consumption market, albeit it with 38 new rather draconian laws. Could this be the same path that Britain takes in the coming years? “Medical cannabis” and cannabis-derived medications were after all reclassified from schedule 1 to schedule 2 on November 1st, 2018 by home secretary Sajid Javid. This rescheduling should have granted citizens access to legal cannabis for medicinal purposes.However, in reality, the legislation only moved Cannabis-based medications such as Epidiolex and Sativex and “pharmaceutical grade” Cannabis in its floral form from schedule 1 to schedule 2.

Homegrown cannabis or so-called street weed remains schedule 1 and as criminalized as “recreational” cannabis even if your condition is on an approved list and you have a prescription personal cultivation still carries the same potential penalties. So, it would seem that cannabis can have medicinal value but only if you buy it from one of their approved dealers – sorry, I mean “healthcare professionals”. It is now 6 months since this change in law and just over a handful of people have been able to obtain cannabis on a rather expensive private prescription nor has there has yet to be a single person able to access it on the NHS.

This now means that although at least two members of our current government are directly profiting from the sale of cannabis-based medications for the treatment of MS and Epilepsy they won’t allow their constituents to access it. Leaving those consumers who already know that they can benefit from cannabis to continue to be criminalized and expected to either continue suffering needlessly or risk either 14 years in a cage for cultivating their own or 5 years for buying it from the black market.

This arbitrary distinction between “medical” and “recreational” exists solely to help pharmaceutical companies, venture capitalists, and industrialists to dominate, commodify and monopolize the emerging cannabis market while continuing to criminalize the public and any potential industry rivals. Consider this if legal commercial cultivators of both “medical” and “recreational” cannabis are required to produce it to the same industry standards by the same manufacturing regulations and practices and they’re from the same strain what exactly makes one medical and the other not?

Think about it they both provide phytocannabinoids that help supplement the mammalian endocannabinoid system, so why is there such a distinction between so-called medical and recreational cannabis? The short answer is money. GW Pharmaceuticals is currently the world’s largest producer and exporter of “medical” cannabis selling their oil in their flagship product Sativex for four times the price of gold.

Helping to line the pockets of the current British Prime Minister Teresa May and Drug Minister Victoria Atkins whose husbands both directly profit from GW being allowed to dominate the legal cannabis market and their partners regurgitating the party line at the pulpit that cannabis has “no accepted medical value”. Yet private clinics in the UK are legally allowed to import cannabis from Holland and sell it via a private prescription model while the average consumer continues to be persecuted for being too poor to afford a prescription and persecuted if they dare grow their own at home.

The flowers sold by these clinics are considered “pharmaceutical grade” whereas your home grow is classified as a dangerous street drug that can cause psychosis, addiction and has “no accepted medical value”. One such product is the rather creatively named Bedrocan from the Dutch company Bedrocan.

Which is the brand name for “Afina” a Sativa strain with 22% THC and <1% CBD. But wait, isn’t that, that dangerous skunk stuff we hear so much about in the British media?! If I gave you a bud of Bedrocan flowers and a bud of UK home grow you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two.

So why is it that one can be sold to patients for three times the average street price yet the other could land them in prison for 5 years simply for possessing it?It is the same if you were to compare say Blue Dream and Blue Dream CBD both breed by Humboldt seeds but the CBD version is a 1:1 whereas the other is THC dominant with 19% and less than 0.1 CBD yet they look and smell identical. This whole CBD is medical, and THC is a dangerous addictive street drug rhetoric is neo-reefer madness being promulgated by individuals personally profiting from the public’s ignorance of their Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and the entourage effect.

So, I ask you medical or recreational what is the difference when it is you that plants the seed? There is no need for an arbitrary distinction or for you to fain, fake or exaggerate an illness or condition to just because it happens to be on the list of approved conditions arbitrarily set by ignorant legislators that have no expertise or experience in this field what so ever. Interestingly, recently in Canada the CMA (Canadian Medical Association) submitted a proposal suggesting that there is no need for a distinction or difference in law for the production and distribution of medical and recreational cannabis.

I am inclined to agree in part, I believe that the only difference should be in the way they’re taxed to offset the cost of individuals with lifelong diseases and conditions that require continual high-strength doses. However, until the system is changed the cheapest, easiest way to get consistent access to quality cannabis is to cultivate it yourself

By Simpa

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

How Cannabis can Save the World

How Cannabis can Save the World

Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 139  (April 2019)

“I don’t know if Hemp will save the world but it’s the only thing that can”
Jack Herer

I’ve been consuming cannabis now for a little over half my life and, like many a green-faced naive teenager before me, I had heard and regurgitated all of the wonderful and amazing things people had said about weed without really ever trying to separate fact from fiction.

Believing the things I liked to be gospel and quietly hoping the others that I didn’t weren’t true. But as I’ve grown and matured, so too has my thinking and my passion to discover the truth of the matter. So how many of those timeless rumors and weedy whispers of my youth have turned out to be true? Could it be that as the emperor of hemp, Jack Herer once put it “Hemp will be the future of all mankind, or there won’t be a future” I mean, could Cannabis actually save the world or is this just another pipe dream? Well, the older I’ve got and the more educated on the subject I continue to become, the more Jack’s words ring true to me.

I look around the world today and see endless problems and only one solution. The total unrestricted and ubiquitous re-legalization of cannabis as an industrial resource. The case has never been clearer and the need for change has never been dire.

It now seems like every month a new report comes out warning of the disastrous consequences of on-going climate change. In October 2018, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPCC) released its latest report. It stressed the urgent need for immediate action to reduce atmospheric carbon and attempt to prevent future catastrophic global events such as rising sea level, droughts, heatwaves, and floods. It calls for countries to engage in mass reforestation, the ubiquitous implication of electric transportation systems, and the improvement of carbon capture technology.

The IPCC reports that there needs to be a 45% reduction in atmospheric carbon by 2030. However, with current technology imitations and a lack of political will, it’s unlikely that this target will be met, to the detriment of all life on Earth.

Technological carbon capture is currently rather limited and only really being used by industry producers attempting to prevent the waste generated by the production of energy from polluting our airways. Utilizing cannabis means that any currently disused land could be covered in one of the fastest-growing natural forms of carbon capture. When Cannabis is grown it sequesters 125kg of carbon per ton from the atmosphere. That material could then be used to make any one of the tens of thousands of potential applications that this most versatile of plants has as an industrial and commercial resource.

The United States recently passed the Agricultural Improvement Act, also known as The Farm Bill 2018. It has a provision effectively legalizing the cultivation of Hemp for farmers in all 50 states. The bill doesn’t change the legal status of Cannabis Sativa or any of its derivable material, compounds, or chemicals. They’ll remain schedule 1. It does however remove the arguably arbitrarily distinct subspecies of Hemp from the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) Effectively legalizing it. Hemp is classified in the US as Cannabis strains with a THC content of less than 0.3%.

This means that hemp is now legal to cultivate with a license from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) across the entire country. This also seems to allow for not just the fibrous material and the seeds to be utilized in production, but also deliverable extracts and concentrates.  This potentially means that as CBD derived from hemp isn’t scheduled in the US, that CBD products derived from hemp may in fact now be legal in all 50 states. Time will tell as the minutiae of the bill is hashed out over the coming months.

Advancements in cannabis-based technologies and the rediscovery of ancient techniques bring us tantalizingly close to being able to grow our way out of the countless economic and environmental consequences caused by cannibalistic capitalism and the criminalizing of one of the most important and invaluable renewable resources in the first place.

So, what can the US do with all that hemp that farmers from Alabama to Montana are going to be cultivating by the ton? Well, Cannabis as you may know is our oldest companion species. We’ve been using and finding new ways of utilizing it tens of thousands of years. Since that time, we’ve discovered some rather amazing properties and applications for this plant. From textiles to energy storage, food to fuel, an intoxicant to a holistic healing herb, cannabis has tens of thousands of uses.

Cannabis paper for example can be recycled twice as many times as standard pulp paper. The pulp and paper industry is now the third-largest producer of pollution adding over 220 million pounds of environmentally destructive by-product to our air and water annually. The carcinogenic industrial pollutants Dioxins are often used to chlorinate white pulp/paper and are now so prevalent that it shows up in breastfeeding mothers now show traces of these chemicals in their breastmilk.

Similar to how micro-plastics have now become so ubiquitous that the average human has several different types of plastic present in their body at any given time. This is a direct consequence of allowing a corrupt cabal of elite industrialists and corrupt governments to criminalize cannabis. Instead favoring the newly discovered and subsequently highly polluting and carcinogen petroleum-based plastics over biodegradable plant-based ones.

There is estimated to be 15 trillion tons of floating partials of micro-plastic in the ocean alone. There is so much plastic food waste packaging that it is now legal in Europe to have 0.15% of recycled plastic in agricultural animal feed. No wonder we’re seeing on average 8 different types of plastic now show up in human feces.

Those Petroleum-based plastics also contain the potentially carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) which can mimic the sex hormone estrogen. These chemicals have been shown to alter the endogenous levels of growth and stress hormones in plants. However, we’re still awaiting conclusive evidence to show the extent of the damage it causes in humans.

Climate change is melting the vast majority of the world’s freshwater supply – which is stored on the poles. As it melts into the ocean it becomes salinated making it undrinkable and contaminating it with pollution, micro-plastics, and other industrial chemicals that have been pumped into our sea for decades.

Graphene nanotubes derived from cannabis could potentially be utilized in off-shore desalination plants to combat this problem. The process of transferring the saltwater to be processed into drinkable water through a network of cannabis graphene nanotubes generates electricity which could be utilized to power the plant via cannabis supercapacitors. Using cannabis-based carbon nanosheets to help filter out pollutants and micro-plastics all while generating clean drinking water and renewable energy. 

Cannabis Graphene super-capacitors not only make a viable alternative to traditional cell batteries. They’ve also been shown to out-do carbon-based graphene in energy storage tests. Further helping to reduce the need for environmentally destructive and polluting mining practices to secure traditional material to make batteries. Speaking of energy, like many other crops cannabis can be turned into a biofuel. Cannabis ethanol is roughly 5 times cheaper to produce than petrol and far less polluting.

Agricultural crop ethanol biofuels are a closed-loop carbon cycle, unlike the system we currently engage in which burns fossilized carbon from tens of millions of years ago. Greatly increasing the current carbon levels in our atmosphere. Biofuels produce far less pollution when burned and require minimal modification to existing engine technology to allow them to run much more efficiently only cannabis ethanol.

Synthetic textiles like Nylon and Polyester are derived from coal and petroleum too and cause a great deal of environmental destruction. This could also be replaced by cannabis. Which is one of the strongest and longest-lasting fabrics available. It’s carbon negative, naturally resistant to pests, mold, and UV light. Cannabis textiles could replace all cotton which currently uses 25% of all pesticides used annually. Hemp not only doesn’t need pesticides it also produces on average 250% more fiber than cotton too.

When it’s made into a building material called Hempcrete – which is shredded cannabis fiber from the sticks and stalks mixed with powdered limestone and water – it is flame retardant, mold, pest, and water-resistant and sequesters carbon for 50 years as it fully sets. Hempcrete homes are a durable, sustainable, economical, and environmentally friendly way of tackling the epidemic of homelessness.

Cannabis also desalinates, detoxifies, and removes heavy metals, chemicals, and even irradiated material from the soil it’s grown in by a process called Phyto-remediation. Its roots dig down deep into the earth helping to prevent topsoil erosion and desertification of our fragile arable lands. These complex networks of roots help to prevent flooding by simply absorbing excess water. The roots also promote healthy mycelium networks further helping to protect bee populations that are attracted to the prominent source of pollen. Planting cannabis between agricultural crop cycles helps to return vital nutrients naturally to the soil too.

Cannabis could also help prevent a zombie apocalypse…albeit it a synthetic one. Ubiquitously re-legalizing cannabis would allow safe, consistent access to clean, quality natural cannabis products negating the black markets’ desire for synthetic cannabinoids in an attempt to negate prohibition. It would also go a long way to stopping pharmaceutical companies creating increasingly dangerous analogs of cannabis components in a vain attempt to patent and profiteer from nature.

The world can arguably be as small as the life of an individual. Prolonging the life of an otherwise terminal parent is to save the entire world in the eyes of a child. Over the past several decades there has been a plethora of studies – over 20,000 of them and evermore academic research that proves the validity, safety and efficacy of Cannabis as a treatment and prophylactic for many common illnesses, conditions and diseases.

Cannabis causes meta-cognition and introspection in those that consume it. This could, in my opinion only lead to better governance of nations if its politicians were cannabis consumers. Imagine, for example, if the politicians that frequent the halls of the British Houses of Parliament –  with its 12 subsidized bars and restaurants – had the same opportunity to consume cannabis as they did to imbibe in alcohol before making important political decisions.

Ultimately, in my opinion, I do not think that we should be looking to the same people that got us into this mess to be the ones to fix it. Neoliberalism has poisoned our air, polluted our oceans, and prohibited our future. They’re not interested in saving the world, only in perpetuating the practice of profiteering and plundering the planet while the population starves and chokes on the by-products of their greed.

So yes, I do believe that cannabis can save the world but without the guiding hand of the people who have an intimate knowledge of this plant it’ll simply end up as just another heartless, soulless commodity for the corporate pirates to pillage and cash-in on. These companies will devour each other on the stock market in a fiscal feeding frenzy until there remains only a handful of people controlling the whole thing. While the culture and communities they’ve exploited to enrich themselves remain demonized, divided, and impoverished.

So, although the days of flower haired, tie-dyed hippies in sun-soaked fields proclaiming that cannabis will cure all human ailments, bring about world peace and save the entire world are over, their ideas and those same concepts nevertheless still remain.

The embers have been kept warm in the hearts and minds of those who’ve quietly spent decades infiltrating all facets of culture, industry, media, and government to proliferate their anti-prohibition beliefs. Their offspring have been raised on the ideals of inclusivity, cooperation, and camaraderie and are cultivating themselves into the vanguard of tomorrow. With unprecedented access to innumerate scientific studies, academic research, and the all-pervasive internet each generation has discovered a little more of the picture and brought us closer to the same realization that Jack had when he sat down to write The Emperor Wears No Clothes– that Cannabis is the only thing that can save the world.

By Simpa

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Cannabis Legalisation VS Decriminalisation

Cannabis Legalisation VS Decriminalisation

Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 138 (February 2019)

It has become painfully clear over the last few years that global attempts to prohibit cannabis have been an unmitigated failure and disaster. It has severely detrimentally effected communities around the world, severed public relations with the police and eroded trust in the judicial system – breeding intergenerational distrust, suspicion and hared of authoritative institutions.

It has incarcerated tens of millions of non-violent consumers, predominantly and disproportionally from impoverished ethnic and cultural minority neighborhoods. The vast majority of these arrests being for simple possession alone. Cannabis prohibition has also arguably contributed more to climate change than any other single factor by its absence as a versatile renewable industrial resource. The scale of industrial and commercial technological applications this plant has is rather quite staggering.

Our oldest companion species is the perfect renewable alternative to highly polluting petroleum-based plastics, wasteful and destructive energy production and storage, It could provide pesticide-free textiles as well as replace many other environmentally destructive and wasteful industrial and commercial products that pump carcinogenic waste products into our environment at an alarming rate.

The prohibition of Cannabis has been used for over 90 years now as a racist, fascistic and classist apparatus to corral, control, and coerce citizens conformity through arbitrary legislation, harsh punitive measures, sustained campaigns of malicious misinformation, and the mainstreaming of media manipulation through the proliferation of propaganda, reefer madness rhetoric and ever-increasingly outrageous lies.

Legalization doesn’t necessarily always mean decriminalization!

The fatigue born of fighting the war on drugs on multiple fronts for nearly a century has weakened the prohibitionist’s ideological position on cannabis. This has allowed for the re-emergence and the rekindling of an undying debate, one as old as prohibition itself. What system would be the best alternative to this current antiquated, disastrous, and draconian prohibitive policy– legalization or decriminalization?

While both have their individual merits, there are obvious advantages and drawbacks to both systems as they currently stand. I personally feel that the most reasonable, rational and sensible approach would be an amalgamation of the two main alternatives to the all-out prohibition of cannabis.

Legalization doesn’t always necessarily mean decriminalization, in fact sometimes, as in the recent case of Canada it can actually mean increased criminalization through the implementation of arbitrary new legislation that confuses citizens while creating a climate conducive for the capitalization and commoditization of cannabis by the very same people that have spent decades demonetizing, persecuting and incarcerating its consumers.

So with the recent implementation of “legalization” in Canada, the total number of cannabis-related offences shot up from half a dozen to forty-five. Also by failing to fully decriminalize cannabis this system will continue to perpetuate the stigma and shame that society has spent decades casting on cannabis consumers. While continuing to mislead the public into believing that cannabis is far more dangerous than it actually is.

Canada hasn’t in my opinion legalized cannabis, it’s just introduced ‘prohibition-lite’. A system under which if you are caught in “over-possession” (that’s the possession of more than 30 grams) you could still face up to five years locked in a cage with violent and dangerous criminals for illegally possessing too much of a legal product. Does this sound like Cannabis has been legalized to you?

Canada now joins Uruguay as the only two countries to of “legalized” cannabis. Uruguay changed the law in 2014 to allow for domestic commercial cultivation and government-controlled distribution through the country’s network of pharmacies. It also granted permission to personal and collective cultivation but once you’ve signed up to a government register, a step many citizens are refusing to take leaving them to continue to be criminalized and classified as an illicit cannabis consumer. Again this isn’t what I imagine the average consumer envisions when they think about cannabis legalization.

Although this may be the best system introduced yet, it still perpetuates the idea that consuming cannabis is more dangerous than alcohol or caffeine (both of which currently enjoy minimal regulation in the South American nations).

Another country that is being celebrated for legalizing cannabis, or Dagga as it’s known in South Africa. This isn’t true under the definition of the word as I understand it. I mean, how can South Africa allow personal cannabis possession and cultivation yet provide no form of domestic supply, distribution, or public consumption and then continue to criminalize those that consume it in the wrong way and herald it as legalization? I’d say it’s far more accurate to describe dagga in South Africa as being decriminalized for personal cultivation, possession and consumption in private.

“The United States is an interesting case study. They’re currently trialing a variety of legalised and medical models in individual states. There are now ten states that have “legalised” adult-use Cannabis in some way with Michigan now joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, and the district of Columbia (Washington D.C) North Dakota was the only state to vote down adult-use cannabis reform with Missouri and Utah passing medical bills.”

These systems of rigorous restrictions and over-regulation are not what the average cannabis consumer thinks of when they envision a world in which Cannabis has been re-legalized. Too often legalizing means gentrification, commoditization, and capitalization of our culture and community. It means those typically straight-laced white middle-class folks who were complacent and silent during prohibition because it wasn’t them or their kids being harassed daily by cops and actively targeted for “random” stop and searches. Now that public opinion and the law have shifted they’re emerging from the woodwork ready to invest, to capitalize, and turn a culture they’ve spent decades condemning into a commodity.

So with this in mind is legalization really the best alternative or would full decriminalization be better?

There are many countries that have already decriminalized Cannabis to varying degrees. Some of which may surprise you. Belize, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Georgia, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Slovenia, Columbia, and of course Portugal.

Although these countries have decriminalized cannabis they still have nevertheless failed to allow personal cultivation or provide any form of regulated and legalized commercial access to consistent quality products through a regulated domestic supply chain. This guarantees that these governments will continue to waste billions in vain attempts to police and control the consumption of cannabis by its citizens.

The continuation of prohibition on production prevents these governments from utilizing a legal marketplace to create economic stimulation and the generation of much-needed tax funds through a robust regulated domestic cannabis market. Instead of leaving hundreds of millions/ billions in profits to the international smugglers and criminal gangs.

In the absence of a legally regulated market criminal enterprises are left vying for a share of the illicit market. Often using intimidation and violent tactics to bully and strong-arm their way to the top of the supply chain. While employing underhanded, dubious, and dangerous cultivation practices to ensure the continuation of their excessive profiteering from the prohibition of cannabis. This leaves the average consumer at the mercy of these criminals who have controlled the domestic and international cultivation, transport, and trade of cannabis for decades.

Portugal best exemplifies the shortcomings and failings of only introducing a decriminalization model without also creating a legal domestic commercial cultivation and distribution marketplace. In 2001, Portugal decided to decriminalize all drugs to help combat what was at the time one of the worst rates of drug overdoses in Europe.

The leading politicians of the major parties commissioned a review of the country’s current drug policy – promising to implement the recommendations of the committee without politicizing its conclusions. The committee convened some months later and recommended that personal possession and consumption of all drugs from Heroin to Cannabis and Cocaine to Ketamine be decriminalized.

So instead of levying ineffective fines and incarcerating consumers, those caught with less than 10 days worth of their substance would be summoned before the Comissões para a Dissuasão da Toxicodependênciadissuasion (the commission for the dissuasion of drug addiction) A committee made up of an attorney, a psychiatrist and a social worker. It is their job to attempt to decrease the consumption of drugs rather than seeking to understand the underlying reasons why these individuals are continuing to utilize their substance in the face of such staunch social stigma.

Although this is a welcomed volte-face in the country’s drug policy. Portugal’s decriminalization efforts do nothing to help reduce the continued cultural condemnation and vilification of drug consumers or provide meaningful harm reduction techniques, education, or support. It also fails to ensure consistent access to clean, quality, unadulterated substances produced under strict regulation through standardized production practices and supplied through an accountable system.

Interestingly after seventeen years of decriminalisation, it appears that the country is ready to look at fully legalizing cannabis. The opposition parties are hopeful that they will be able to introduce a bill to legalize cannabis in the country following the passing of a bill in July to allow pharmaceutically produced cannabis-based medications to be prescribed. I hope that they’ll keep their current decriminalized system too, effectively making them the first country to truly re-legalize cannabis.

We shouldn’t just be discussing re-legalizing cannabis for medicinal applications or adult consumption we should be making the case for the industrialization of cannabis, we need all three pillars if we are to ever have a true cannabis revolution.

The ubiquitous reimplementation of Cannabis as a renewable resource would usher in a third industrial revolution. Utilizing cannabis technologies such as Hempcrete, Cannabis-derived Graphene, and biodegradable cannabis-based plastics. The cultivation of Cannabis with no arbitrary cannabinoid cap or other trivial restrictions could result in hundreds of, if not thousands of tons of resin-rich flowers for use in pharmaceutical medications and other preparations. It would also easily provide more than enough material to fortify cereals, grains, and other food sources in the same way we already do with vitamins. This would go a long way to supplementing the endocannabinoid system of every single man, woman, and child in the country. It would also make pharmaceutical maintenance drugs and weak pharmaceutical-based cannabinoid derived medications obsolete in the vast majority of cases.

The grey-area created by the overly ambiguous language used in this debate is deliberately divisive. It is intended to promote distrust and cultivate disharmony and suspicion amongst advocates and activists. In reality there is no legalize vs. decriminalize, medical vs. recreational, grow your own vs. pharmaceutical medications.

In truth, these are arbitrary definitions and distinctions designed to dissuade debate, to derail any discussion, and demolish any attempts at opposing the current control paradigm. In reality, there is only the re-legalizing argument. Which to me is the reintroduction of cannabis as a resource with no arbitrary restrictions or ideological limitations.

They like to say “legalizing cannabis” as if it will be the first time cannabis has been legal, when in reality prohibition is the blip. Cannabis was legal for the entirety of human history until some racist and fascist policy makers and industrialists colluded and conspired on a campaign of propaganda, misinformation and reefer madness.

There are unfortunately those that profess to back the ubiquitous re-legalization of Cannabis but whose actions betray their intentions and show that their true loyalties are with the corporate vultures that are circling and just waiting to pick the carcass of reform clean and not with the community and culture that they claim to represent.

This is why we must always be aware of the intricacies and implications of the reforms we offer our support to and read the fine print of any campaigns that we rally behind. Whenever an alternative policy is put forward by any political party, NGO, or other body it must be intricately inspected to ensure that at the very least it decriminalizes all personal and social consumption and cultivation to guarantee that no one is ever again locked in a cage for the utilizing a plant that is less harmful than sugar.

Ultimately, any form of legalization without full decriminalization will only ever amount to a Prohibition-Lite policy. The way to finally deal with this mess is to re-legalize Cannabis as an industrial resource, as the oldest medicine and as a far safer alternative intoxicant to alcohol.

By Simpa

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Cannabis and veganism

Cannabis and veganism

Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 140 (July 2019)

Photo credit: Chuck Herrera

Our western diet of fast food and our general disregard for our health has meant that our omega ratio is massively unbalanced.

There is an interesting correlation between the rise in Cannabis consumption in the general population and the rise of Veganism in recent years. I thought since I am a proponent of both, that I’d take a look and see what Vegans and Cannabis consumers/advocates have in common.

There are typically four reasons to go vegan: for the animals, for the environment, for your health, or all three. So, if vegans wish to see a greener, plant-based world then they’re going to need to take a serious look at one of the most studied, versatile, and persecuted plants in our entire history.

Both subcultures share the same outdated negative stereotypes, stigma, and warped public opinion. The mental image that is most often conjured up when thinking about Cannabis and Vegan advocates/activists is one that has been carefully cultivated to be derogatory and depict them negatively in popular media, movies, and TV.  That of a long-haired, bearded hipster in sandals, clad from head to toe in hemp. This antiquated imagining of neo-hippie-chic, middle-class busybodies exclaiming the virtues of their beliefs has been somewhat eroded in recent decades as both ideologies have gone rather mainstream.

In recent years cannabis law reform has taken place in dozens of countries from the decriminalization of small personal amounts (typically less than an ounce) to the total implementation of a national adult consumption markets as in Canada and Uruguay over the past few years. This has led to renewed calls from the World Health Organization, The European Union, and the United Nations to reschedule Cannabis globally and push nations towards ending their draconian and antiquated war on a plant that is less harmful than sugar.

Veganism has also enjoyed a resurgence in recent years and to such a degree that most of the major food producers have already released or are working to release “vegan-ized” versions of their most popular products. From dairy-free cheese, milk and ice cream to animal-free hot dogs, burgers and even jelly sweets. Veganism has increased by 350% in the UK and 600% in the US over the last decade and shows no signs of slowing on either side of the Atlantic any time soon.

Supporters of both cannabis and veganism are often anecdotally associated with increased empathy and compassion. Cannabis, when consumed encourages metacognition and introspection. It gives the user the cognitive capacity to think about the contents of their thoughts and question entrenched beliefs, core values and learned behaviors. This greatly increases the consumer’s likelihood of exploring why it is they consume meat and dairy and how they can reduce the environmental damage, harm and suffering they perpetuate through their dietary and lifestyle choices.

As is by now rather obvious to the vast majority of the population, the war on drugs has been an unmitigated disaster targeting some of the most vulnerable members of society and actively amplifying the pain and suffering felt by these unfortunate folk. So, although vegans already have an increased sense of empathy and compassion towards animals they could still benefit greatly from the consumption of cannabis which could help them better empathize and identify with the circumstantial suffering of their fellow man in the same way they do with factory farming, animal agriculture, and abuse.

Another similar belief and trait prevalent amongst both groups is their continued concern for the environment. Climate change has become the pressing issue of our day and both re-legalizing cannabis and going vegan could go a long way to negating the majority of the damage caused to the planet by toxic polluting industrial practices and gluttonous personal wants and habits.

As international organizations such as the EU, WHO, and UN are now pushing their member states to do far more to tackle climate change and lower the global level of atmospheric carbon by as much as 45% by 2030. In the hope that this could prevent permanent cataclysmic changes to our global climate. A goal that frankly few nations look set to achieve, especially while continuing to utilize the same traditional technologies and antiquated techniques that actually caused this mess in the first place.

Several studies have come out in the past year to indicate that the single biggest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to go vegan. Adopting a vegan lifestyle HALVES the amount of carbon that the average individual consumes daily. Another way to greatly reduce the levels of atmospheric carbon is to re-legalize cannabis and to plant it absolutely everywhere.

Cannabis sequesters 325kg per ton when cultivated (I previously misquoted this in issue 139 as 125kg). If these organizations are serious about meeting their targets then they need to be rallying not just for the rescheduling of cannabis but also work towards tackling the stigma they themselves helped create that continues to engulf this humble plant and push for it to be a cornerstone of climate change policy. 

It is also true that if the Cannabis industry went vegan it would greatly cut down on toxic waste and pollution. We are seeing more and more large cannabis corporations get in legal trouble for using banned and dangerous pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals which are completely unsuitable in the cultivation of cannabis and are gravely destructive to the individual and the environment.

Cannabis, as you may well know, is our oldest symbiotic plant species. There is evidence that shows that humans have been utilizing cannabis for at least the past 27,000 years from everything from textiles to paper, medicines to industrial material.

Brazil is home to one of the most bio-diverse forests on the planet, in the Amazon. So, it is rather unfortunate that it is also the world’s largest exporter of beef. It is this global demand that has seen the accelerated expansion of pasture lands and logging of this most precious resource. This coupled with the continued weakening of Brazilian laws protecting the Amazon rainforest is responsible for 80% of the nation’s deforestation.

It is estimated that global deforestation has already released 120 billion tons of C02 into the atmosphere. In 2017, the UK imported £3.9 billion worth of paper products that should have been cultivated domestically out of cannabis while sequestering atmospheric carbon and nutrifying and detoxifying our topsoil.

The other leading cause of global deforestation is the production of wood pulp production. Cannabis – especially specific sativa type strains that we’ve selectively bred to have less than the arbitrary percentage of THC (0.2% UK 0.3% USA) – are perfect for paper production as 20% of the plant is fiber with up to 70% being cellulose making it a far better source of paper pulp than wood.

It takes on average 20 years depending on the species to grow trees for paper whereas Hemp can be grown in less than 20 weeks. Cannabis also produces far more cellulose which means that a hectare of cannabis can produce four times as much paper as wood in a fraction of the time.

Hemp paper, which until the end of the 18th century accounted for about 80% of all paper, also lasts decades longer than wood pulp paper and can be recycled 7- 8 times. In comparison, wood paper can only be recycled 3-4 times. Hemp paper also requires none of the toxic chemicals used to treat wood pulp.

The pulp and paper industry is also now the third-largest industrial polluter responsible for pumping 220 million pounds of toxic pollution into our skies and seas every year, including over 3 million tons of chlorine –  a major source of the carcinogen dioxin, considered to be one of the most toxic substances that humans have ever produced which can now be found in the breast milk of all women, possibly even all mammals.

Dioxin is fat-soluble meaning that it bioaccumulates in animals that some people still consume in their diet – effectively working its way up the food chain. Vegans do not consume animal products so they avoid a lot of this exposure. A recent Brazilian study found that as much as 90% of the dioxins the average North American will be exposed to comes from dairy, meat, and eggs – with some 23% coming from dairy alone.

These highly carcinogenic chemicals are also prevalent in petroleum-based plastics.  This is why it is recommended that you do not drink water from a bottle that has either been frozen or left to heat up. This same mechanism is true of our processed food packaging which is predominantly petroleum-based plastic which leech dioxins and other cancerous and endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA and BPZ into our food, water, and bodies.

If you choose to consume meat or dairy in the UK then you’ll have a much higher exposure rate to these dangerous chemicals as the UK has included a limit of 0.15% of plastics from food waste to be used to feed cattle and other animal agriculture as part of its recycling strategy. Unlike the rest of the EU that sets the limit at zero percent.

Our western diet of fast food and our general disregard for our health has meant that our omega ratio is massively unbalanced. The ideal ratio of omega 6 – 3 is 4:1. This deficit is most often negated by taking omega 3 supplements such as Cod liver oil capsules, however, these are unsuitable for vegans as they’re an animal bi-product. Hemp seed oil, on the other hand, contains a nearly perfect natural omega ratio of 3:1 without any of the added cholesterol or need to kill anything. It is also a complete protein source containing all 11 non-essential and 9 essential amino acids and helps to support immune system response and functionality, making it the perfect product for health-conscious vegans to help balance their omega intake.

The ubiquitous relegalization of cannabis and its subsequent reintroduction to the food chain as a base nutrient, prophylactic, and first-line medicine could negate the need for a great deal of modern pharmaceutical drugs. Most modern pharmaceuticals and vitamins are large organic molecules constructed by starting with a base of small organic molecules produced from refined crude oil into polycyclic hydrocarbons and building it up with other organic molecules connected in certain ways to produce the desired substance.

I am no chemist but I am aware that you can derive these same building blocks from cannabis, potentially meaning that the pharmaceuticals of the future could not only contain cannabinoids and cannabis-derived terpenes as well as literally being built on cannabis polycyclic hydrocarbon structures.

The vast majority of these pharmaceutical drugs and medications have had to go through extensive, invasive, and immoral animal testing at one stage or another. Whereas cannabis as a holistic plant medicine can be cultivated, extracted, and consumed at home without the need for cruel clinical trials and research experiments conducted on non-human primates and other innocent animals.

Utilizing cannabis-based graphene as a supercapacitor to store energy produced from renewable resources would also greatly reduce the demand for crude oil needed to be extracted and converted into petroleum to fuel the modern world.

Ultimately, I feel the convergence of these two ideologies will not only continue but also accelerate in the coming years and decades. As climate change continues to take center stage in this human drama it will force much more of an emphasis on alternative solutions, innovative technologies, and modalities.

So, now that I’ve convinced all the vegans to consume and support cannabis, how can you ensure that the cannabis you’re consuming is vegan?  Three little words…Grow Your Own.

By Simpa

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

Durham Constabulary are cultivating change in British Cannabis policy

Durham Constabulary are cultivating change in British Cannabis policy

Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 136 (October 2018)

How is it that a small county in the northeast of England has become the epicenter for Cannabis law reform in the UK over recent years? Well, that is down to the two men that control the county’s police force and dictate its drug policy. Ron Hogg, Durham Constabulary PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner), and Mike Barton, Durham constabularies Chief Constable, are the two men behind the county’s new and refreshing approach to Cannabis policing. Collectively, these two senior civil servants have over 50 years’ experience attempting to enforce antiquated prohibitive policies on substances such as Cannabis.

It was in late 2014 when Durham Constabulary announced it was reviewing its drug policy with a special focus on Cannabis. The decision was made against the backdrop of consecutively austere budgets and several rounds of severe and continually deepening funding cuts. In December of the same year, the force declared its intention to deprioritise personal consumption and cultivation of Cannabis, instead choosing to focus their ever-dwindling resources on serious criminality in the region and on crimes that have actual victims.

“It’s also important to adopt this kind of strategy as we face financial cutbacks and have to look at different ways of operating – this will help us to cope” -Ron Hogg Durham constabulary PCC

This ground-breaking approach was applauded by the plethora of anti-prohibition organizations that operate in the UK and have spent decades fighting this flawed, antiquated, and draconian policy. It was almost immediately met with hostility and mocking editorials at the hands of the conservative British press. It was also greeted with a great deal of derision and suspicion by our out-of-touch politicians, who’re drunk on their own ideology, misinformation and lies. As well as those members of the public that are still very much operating under the influence of ‘Reefer Madness’ era propaganda.

“The fact that police forces are recognizing the futility of criminalizing those who use drugs and are willing to implement alternative approaches shows that they are well ahead of the government when it comes to recognizing what good public policy can look like. We hope that the government takes note and learns from local policing initiatives—such as those in Bristol and Durham—so that they can inform a much-needed shift in national policy.” – Niamh Eastwood, executive director of Release a UK based Drug policy reform organization.

The policy, however, was rather popular with several of the democratically-elected PCC’s and chief constabularies of other forces with Avon and Somerset, Derbyshire, Surrey, Devon and Cornwall and Dorset all adopting a similar stance shortly after PCC Hogg’s announcement. The voting public also demonstrated their support for this progressive policy too – with Ron Hogg being re-elected in 2016 for another term as Durham PCC with an even higher mandate. Securing his seat with more votes than all the other candidates combined.

So how does it work? Is Cannabis now legal in Durham? Well, no. Cannabis still remains a schedule 1 drug that carries a class B penalty for cultivation, possession and dealing the same as the rest of the country. Durham Constabulary has merely deprioritised Cannabis meaning that its officers, whose ranks are some 400 officers lighter since austerity started in the UK, will no longer actively target consumers and personal cultivators within the county.

Coupled with this de-prioritisation approach is the “checkpoint scheme” which has been hailed as a world first and aims to divert members of the public who have been unlucky enough to be caught in possession of a small amount Cannabis or other personal substance of choice. This innovative approach is evident that even the Police are beginning to understand that, at its core, prohibition and the subsequent criminalizing of otherwise peaceful Cannabis consumers causes far more harm than the consequences and side effects of any of the drugs that they’ve spent decades attempting to control and govern.

The Checkpoint scheme was launched in April 2015 by Ron Hogg and Mike Barton is designed to help save the force’s ever-lessening funds and offer an alternative to prosecution and potential incarceration for low-level offending. The scheme rightly doesn’t cover serious crimes such as rape, robbery or violent crimes such as domestic abuse, hate crimes, manslaughter, and murder. It won’t cover driving offenses either as there is already an education based alternative to criminalizing motorists in the form of speed awareness courses – once again proving that education works far better than criminaliastion in crime prevention.

“If you have a small amount for personal use you will not be prosecuted, you go into Checkpoint. It frees up time to investigate more serious crime – that’s why we have a good detection rate.” – Mike Barton Durham Constabulary Chief Constable

The checkpoint scheme offers eligible offenders a 4-month contract to engage in as an alternative to facing potential prosecution and incarceration. The contract offers various customizable interventions and options to address the underlying reasons why they may have committed the crime in question and aims to provide support to attempt to prevent recidivism.
The pioneering scheme is expected to cut re-offending rates and save taxpayers £135m over ten years while freeing up police resources to tackle serious crime that has victims and blights the daily lives of the county residents.

This is a rather refreshing alternative approach to the classic blueprint of criminality in which an otherwise law-abiding citizen is criminalized for personal possession which can lead to further criminality and detrimentally affect their future career, relationships and life chances.
This system is a welcomed first step in the journey of a thousand towards safeguarding Cannabis consumers, who are quite possibly the UK’s largest unrepresented demographic. This means that a young person who consumes Cannabis won’t face criminaliastion for utilizing a drug that is far safer than Alcohol, a drug which costs the NHS billions annually. A drug I’m also sure that Mr. Hogg and Mr. Barton will agree with me causes exponentially more damage to society and the individual – all while costing the institution billions to police and clean up every weekend in town and city centers across the nation.

It is worth noting that since the checkpoint scheme was introduced that the local constabulary has been the only force out of all 43 in the country to be ranked ‘outstanding’ three years in a row by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and fire and rescue services (HMICFRS) the regulatory body responsible for overseeing the effectiveness of British policing.
The checkpoint scheme was extended in 2017 to allow for low-level dealing. There is a solid logic to this decision. It seeks to avoid incarcerating consumers who’re selling to help support their habit by granting them space on the scheme too.

“The status quo is not tenable. It’s getting worse. Drugs are getting cheaper, stronger, more readily available and more dangerous. I have come reluctantly over the years to the conclusion that we need to regulate the market.” – Mike Barton Durham Constabulary Chief Constable

We have known for many years that drug prohibition causes far more harm to the individual and society than any individual drug ever could and finally it would seem that even the authoritative institutions tasked with enforcing these arbitrary laws are beginning to recognize the absurdity and futility of criminalizing peaceful Cannabis consumers while allowing a legal drug like Alcohol to ravage our culture.
“We are not going soft on drugs, we are going sensible.” – Durham Constabulary spokeswoman
It was also recently announced in July 2018 that Durham magistrates courts would no longer issue search warrants based on suspicion of personal cultivation of Cannabis in the county, a move applauded by cops and consumers alike. Cannabis consumers in the county can now grow their own and remove themselves entirely from the black market, thereby depriving criminals of millions of pounds and negating the average Cannabis consumers from having to interact with criminal dealers who too often only sell Cannabis for the profit motive. Furthermore, many deals are often selling far more dangerous and addictive substances alongside it.

When talking with cultivators in Durham they expressed that although they no longer fear the police breaking into their home to steal their crop, they are, however still afraid of criminal gangs who target personal growers to profit from their garden. They know that these personal growers cannot simply ring the police for protection. One wonders how long it will be before Cannabis consuming citizens are afforded the same legal protection as those who choose to indulge in Alcohol and Tobacco – two drugs that arguably cause far more harm to society and the individual.

This progressive alternative policy to prohibition is protecting the most vulnerable in our society from being unfairly and unnecessarily criminalized and incarcerated. These are the first tentative steps into a brave new world where the public is no longer a victim of the antiquated and draconian policing practice of drug prohibition. 

Ultimately, County Durham has planted the seed – that if we’re diligent and caring enough could grow and bloom into a post-prohibition paradigm, a world in which you, dear reader, are no longer considered a criminal for consuming a plant.

A legal regulated adult Cannabis market in the UK would go a long way to lessening the extensive harms of other currently legal and illegal substances that pose not only the risk of addiction but also the risk of overdose by providing a safe alternative intoxicant that has never (ever) killed anyone.


by Simpa

Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.

What are PGR’s?

PGR’s and Cannabis

Originally written for Ismoke Media ( January 2018)

Plant growth regulators are defined by the FIFRA- The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (which governs their usage in America) defines PGR’s as “Any substance or mixture of substances intended, through physiological action, for accelerating or retarding the rate of growth or rate of maturation, or for otherwise altering the behaviour of plants or the produce thereof”

PGR’s- Plant growth regulators also sometimes referred to as Plant Growth retardants are a group of chemicals used in agricultural farming on crops such as grape and tomato vines, peppers and aubergines to increase their yield, decrease the frequency of fruit drop and for manipulating fruit development and storage quality.

Although PGR’s have been used in traditional agricultural cultivation of edible crops for decades following their discovery in the late 1920’s with seemingly little harm attributed to their use, it still remains unknown as to the long-term health effects of these chemicals especially when combusted and consumed orally.

It is suspected that when cannabis grown with PGR’s is combusted, the trace amounts of these chemicals become volatile; through heat they break down and become a gas which is inhaled along with the cannabis smoke, potentially becoming toxic and harmful to consumers. (This is why you see farmers dressed in hazmat suits when spraying these chemicals onto crops.)

Its the potential for inhalation and dermal contact that are of concern here given the concentrated nature of the compound prior to it being sprayed. These chemicals, when ingested in trace amounts, however, such as in foods produced from sprayed crops, breakdown in the gut and appear to have little detrimental effect on the consumer.

PGRs and The Environment

There is growing evidence that suggests that as well as posing a potential threat to human health PGRs have been found to be environmental pollutants. Residual PGRs in the soil and water are shown to have toxic effects on the digestive organs of fish and their embryos. I would suggest that far more research needs to be done to end this protracted debate once and for all.

PGR’s in food production aren’t even guaranteed 100% safe, as the research and data is seriously lacking to demonstrate beyond any doubt the efficacy and safety of PGRs in food production.

We need more studies that look at the retention of residues in the leaves and fruit of vegetable crops. This should be of interest and concern to regulators and cultivators alike, especially considering that customers are consuming fresh vegetables that have been treated with PGR’s.

So why then are some growers still using PGR’s in the cultivation of Cannabis?

There are three main reasons why:

1. To stop vertical growth and get a head start on flower production during the transition from vegetation to flower stage in cultivation during the first two weeks of flowering.

2. To boost the density and yield of flowers during the mid-phase of flowering weeks three-to-five.

3. To harden the flowers during the final stage of flowering, the final 2 weeks of growth.

Effectively there is only one main driving force behind there adoption of these untested methods and that is profit.

It is interesting to note that the global PGR market is to surge from $3.5 Billion observed in 2014, to $6.4 Billion by 2020 possibly on the back of increased usage in the cultivation of cannabis.

At present, PGR’s seem to be far more ubiquitous in the states than in the UK. However, they’re slowly making their way over into the UK market as “Cali” strains and other imports become more popular. So be aware that the cannabis you’re consuming may have been grown using these untested and unregulated products. As always, the safest way to access cannabis is to cultivate it yourself. Then you’ll know for sure what has been added to the crop and how the plant has been treated.

As mentioned above, it’s not just PGR’s that are being utilised in the cultivation process, there are also Fungicides, Herbicides, and Insecticides all of which are again being used in domestic food agriculture with little to no detrimental effects to the consumer.

So although these chemicals can be toxic in high doses and require PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to spray, they seem to be relatively harmless in small doses, such as the amount ingested when eating crops that utilised these or similar chemical compounds in their production. However, in recent years there has been growing evidence showing that PGR’s are carcinogenic, toxic to the liver, and may cause infertility.

In Europe and the UK, most PGR’s are either banned or classified and regulated as pesticides. However rather worryingly for us and despite being prohibited in many countries, Paclobutrazol is still licensed for use on apple, cherry, pear, and plum trees in the UK. So keep in mind that your PGR joint and local supermarket apples may both be as potentially harmful to you.

The science is complicated and everyone has their own opinion about PGR’s, the efficacy, and the effects of using them in agricultural production, let alone Cannabis cultivation. That being said, I’d say it’s far better to air on the side of caution and avoid using these chemicals in cannabis cultivation until there is a great deal more relevant and reliable information available about any potential health risks arising from using PGR’s in cannabis products.

On the other hand, it could be argued that if you’re not overly concerned about your physical health anyway, that consuming cannabis tainted with PGR’s is only as bad as eating take away junk food – however, do bear in mind that British takeaway food is linked to obesity, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and early death. (Source)

Ultimately there is not enough evidence either way on the efficacy of PGR’s in cannabis cultivation. Until there is sufficient evidence, either way, I’d recommend avoiding these compounds and Cannabis cultivated using them.

Simpa

Simpa
Simpa

Call To Arms

To whom it may concern,

We have all unwittingly been sowing the seeds of distrust, dismay, and despair within our own community by supporting the continued subdivision of our noble cause; ending Cannabis prohibition. These seeds have quietly taken root and have been growing unchecked in all corners of our community for decades. Activism, advocacy, anarchism, and academia have all seen this narrowing of interest and passion to smaller actions and campaigns around “Medical Cannabis”, “Industrial Hemp” and “Marijuana” that has been to the detriment of all parties and the wider world.This particularly peculiar and pernicious flora has come to fruition in recent years. Its first bounty is now being harvested in the form of “Legalised Medical Cannabis” in the UK. This corporate victory was primarily achieved by the weaponising and astroturfing of our community to push their narrative, agenda, and the pharmaceutical paradigm until we ourselves began believing it.When the legislation passed on November 1st 2018, our once loud and proud orchestral annunciation of truth and justice was left broken, raspy and cacophonous, unable to muster little more than a death rattle in opposition as we choked on the scale and scope of their betrayal.We have all been misled into supporting and championing divisive singular narrative campaigns around cannabis. We have been led to advocate for Hemp over Cannabis, and inferior “legal” cannabinoids over other illegal ones, leaving the socially corrosive and criminalising status quo unchallenged. This has allowed for the individual synthesizable, patentable, and profitable components of the plant to be commodified, commercialised, and monopolised by corporate proponents who claimed to uphold the same ideals and serve our collective common goal of “freeing the weed” once and for all.This has never been more self- evident than the current situation in Europe as the EU now moves to clarify its position on CBD as a narcotic, using the interpretation of the fraudulent and fascistic 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotics as its justification. The Convention states that any and all components or derivatives of the plant Cannabis Sativa L are Schedule IV meaning they have “particularly dangerous properties” and are “likely liable for abuse” so therefore must remain illegal.If they take this position it would put all of the CBD and Hemp companies and individuals that have profiteered from the perpetuation of prohibition – while Cannabis dealers and community champions faced incarceration – back in the pile with the rest of us. So, isn’t now the most opportune moment to cease these nonsensical definitions and divisions? To stop individual pursuits of profit? To band together to once and for all to liberate this plant from a century of propaganda, paranoia, and prohibition?The British government as we know tried to get around these restrictions for medicinal use years ago by updating their original 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act with the Misuse of Drugs Regulation 2001. This allowed for Schedule 1 (1971 scheduling) drugs to be lawfully controlled, possessed, and supplied by prescription, while non-controlled supply and production of the exact same substance remained illegal. This greatly helped GW Pharmaceuticals and it’s vulture capitalist investors use the legislation as protection. They later got Home Office approval to launch their first Cannabis-based drug, Sativex, in 2006, thus avoiding prosecution for cultivating, processing, and distributing a Schedule 1 drug.The subsequent “legalising” of “Medical Cannabis” in 2018 went a step further by creating a new class of Cannabis as a drug in Schedule 2. “Medical Cannabis” is defined in the legislation as a “Cannabis-based product designed to use in humans” acknowledging that it has some “accepted medical value” The deliberately use of “Cannabis-based” is ambiguous and Orwellian language, that I suspect has been used to allow for non-Cannabis derived medications under the interpretation of the law. It was also enough to placate the average advocate and naive tabloid reader into believing that everyone needing cannabis for its medicinal benefits are now legally allowed to access it.In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. To date, the NHS has only issued TWO prescriptions and there have been less than a hundred private prescriptions handed out by the ever-growing gentrifying and profiteering private clinics. These establishments are predominately patronised by those fortunate enough to be able to afford hundreds of pounds for the pleasure of being told that “Medical Cannabis” can greatly reduce their symptoms and help them manage their condition.It is the same plant that produces the full extract cannabis oil (FECO) that can help treat Cancer, Crohns, and countless other conditions that give us the raw materials to negate the toxic and environmentally destructive practices and by-products of some of the most polluting industries on the planet.ynthetic cannabinoid analogs, non-cannabis-derived cannabinoids, and other “Cannabis-based” pharmaceuticalised drugs. This would negate the restrictions of the conventions altogether and greatly compounding some of the most sinister socioeconomic and individually destructive elements inherent in prohibition.I worry that the CBD industry and the emerging private British healthcare sector – which will be created through impending US trade deals – will be Cannabis-free in the coming years. By the perfecting of synthesising and extraction techniques of non-Cannabis derived cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds present in Cannabis, they will nullify and mute the medical argument as an avenue to truly relegalise cannabis for all therapeutic uses. Only the therapies that they approve and profit from personally will be allowed to flourish.It is these lessons that I implore you to learn from to help us all avoid the next big astroturfing project that is coming from the same minds behind the campaign to “LegaliseMedical Cannabis” in the UK. Their next target is the “Hemp Industry” or as it should be known as, the “INDUSTRIAL CANNABIS” industry. In exactly the same way we empowered the medical paradigm, we are doing the same by calling the industrial properties and applications of Cannabis, “Hemp”. Cannabis is Cannabis. End of.The regurgitation of these misnomers will only further confuse and coerce the layman into believing that “Hemp” and “Cannabis” are different plants. One with the potential to grow a brighter future and the other a dangerously addictive drug that causes psychosis. The continuation of this paradigm by stigmatising and segregating the industrial, medicinal, and individual conscious expanding uses of the Cannabis plant has been to the detriment of every living creature on earth.It is the same plant that produces the full extract cannabis oil (FECO) that can help treat Cancer, Crohns, and countless other conditions that gives us the raw materials to negate the toxic and environmentally destructive practices and by-products of some of the most polluting industries on the planet. The day to day processes and procedures of these global industries; Energy, Fashion, Agriculture, Construction, and Transportation, are currently contributing to an ecological and environmental genocide. From endocrine disruptive chemicals like Dioxins that are used to colour timber pulp paper (which is now so ubiquitous that they are present in all mammalian breast milk), to the Schedule one carcinogens BPAs and BPZs present in all petroleum-based plastics (and now found in the faeces of all humans), to the earth-scarring mineral mining techniques that tear open the earth to remove elements that are no longer needed in a world where Cannabis is legal. All of these crimes against nature are a direct result of the vilifying and demonising of this plant nearly a century ago.There is no such thing as a “medical cannabis plant” or a “hemp plant” – There is only Cannabis and its innumerate cultivars. The misuse of nomenclature is a tool that this small cabal of cannibalistic capitalists wields to subjugate and divide our movement for their own sinister fiscal ends. We must above all else first standardise the terminology around Cannabis. This ultimately means accepting the truth, there is only Cannabis and its industrial, medicinal, and conscious expanding properties and applications.We have cultivated the Cannabis and delicately woven its fibres into the ever-tightening noose around our necks by allowing the subjugation and arbitrary distinctions of “Medical Cannabis” “Hemp”, and “CBD”. Allowing these independent industries to arise and operate while the common man remains criminalised, creates a profit incentive for those industries to fight to continue their monopolies by demonising the other aspects of this wonderful plant.In commercialising certain parts of Cannabis we have allowed it to be taken over, controlled, and regulated by vulture capitalists and ruthless individuals intent on profiting from the perpetuation of prohibitive policies.The UK is not the USA. The factors that have allowed for dispensaries, GYO, the use of flowers as “medicine” and an industrial sector will not happen here while we are governed by these pirates in power. They will seek with every action to accumulate more control and wealth from the creation of any new Cannabis-based industry, be it medicinal, industrial or commercial.Ultimately, until we stop infighting over the potential crumbs that fall from their table and focus on building our own damn table, there can be no tangible progress. Without a parlay between the individual fractured industries, the various activist and advocate groups within the community and wider industry, there can be only one outcome: The “legalisation” and “medicinalisation” of a plant whose potential could have saved the world, into just another soulless commodity destined to destroy it.In all good conscience, no individual or industry should be allowed to profit while others remain criminalised and incarcerated. Our only option for resistance at this point is to revolt against the installation of the Prohibition 2.0 paradigm and the co-opting of our culture and community.We must unify to cultivate a future fair and equitable for all consumer and non-consumer alike by tearing up the antiquated, racist, and fascistic drug laws. So I ask you, what better time than now to sow the seeds of equity, justice, and prosperity? My friends, its time we call for a Cannabis revolution and rebellion.

Solidarity and salutations
Simpa

Simpa
Simpa