The political parties are in full election mode, manifestos are out, lines are drawn, and we are off to the General election. Mark the date December 12th 2019, they are after your vote and we can make it count.
This is exactly the time, if you have any interest in Cannabis, to start using the hashtag #VoteCannabis. Stop the calls for cannabis reform from being drowned out. Trending topics in the world of Social media are being carefully tracked during this electoral period. Parties and candidates are tailoring their messages specifically to you. This may not make much difference in the general election noise, but it will send a signal to the politicians that a sizable portion of voters care a great deal about cannabis policy and immediate change is needed.
In the current atmosphere where BREXIT will carry on sucking the life out of any parliament, it is unrealistic to think that progressive cannabis regulation will be front and centre of the legislative program.
However, the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections on the 7th May 2020 offer a real opportunity to influence outcomes. A Police and Crime Commissioner is elected every 4 years and works with the Chief Constable to set the policing priorities and force budgets. Commissioners are elected on less than 25% of the electorate and the electorate is made up of 10% cannabis users who have a much wider sphere of influence. The #VoteCannabis hashtag can create a movement for change and will influence candidate selection as parties look at trends. This will affect policing outcomes.
We can take a leaf from the Dutch who use the term Gedogen (Hoodoken) which means turning a blind eye to cannabis use. The Dutch have successfully operated this policy for decades and based their coffee shop culture on it. Why can the UK not implement this policy with immediate effect?
There are multiple examples of PCCs who have effectively operated Hoodoken and taken away the danger and anxiety of individual cannabis users. Their forces instead focus on cannabis production by unscrupulous criminals who use modern slavery and steal electricity to grow low-grade street cannabis. These criminals have no one’s welfare at heart and the furthest thing from the dealer’s mind is explaining a cannabinoid profile and strain selection for specific conditions.
The more enlightened PCCs work with Cannabis Social Clubs to develop harm reduction policies. Clubs work to educate members about the positive and negative aspects of cannabis. They run courses to explain how cannabinoids have very different effects on different peoples endocannabinoid system – cannabis strains are really the start of individual wellness programs. The Cannabis Clubs are a model that has successfully worked all over Europe and allowed many patients to gain access to safe, inexpensive cannabis. They benefit from a larger support network there to help them.
We all know this is The Brexit Election but it’s about far more than that. It’s an election to change the way the UK works. Let’s demand Hoodoken from politicians right now. We know ‘cannabis’ has now entered the political vocabulary and is on their radar. The Lib Dems are supporting the creation of a full Canadian style cannabis economy, the Labour party are calling for a Royal Commission. The Green Party want a full Portugal solution with a regulated cannabis industry. The Conservatives are just ignoring it.
They can all implement Hoodoken right now, which means the fear factor so many live with is removed with immediate effect.
During this transition period where prohibition is still in force, we must stop criminalising generations of people who prefer the effects of illegal cannabis to the licensed use of alcohol, which all the informed thought leaders point out causes significantly more economic and social harm.
The 2019 election is widely trailed as the election of a generation #VoteCannabis will make it the election of the century. It will undermine the fake news that has underpinned the era of prohibition and created so much misery.