In a misguided attempt to smear the cannabis legalisation campaign in the UK, the Mail on Sunday published an article yesterday which was ostensibly meant to shock, but only really succeeded in invoking howls of laughter.
The story was an attempted expose of an event hosted by the Birmingham City Cannabis Club, at which activists and cannabis enthusiasts from around the country got together to enjoy their favourite herb. In the MoS’s words, “About 200 people tucked into an array of nibbles such as strawberries, bananas and grapes that they had dipped into the chocolate and mango-flavoured cannabis fountains. They also devoured a cannabis cake complete with icing sugar.”
The writers of the article in question – Kirsten Johnson and Simon Murphy – were obviously going for the typical MoS ‘shock and awe’ type story, only they apparently failed to notice that they’d forgotten to add in the shock. Where was the story here really? Consenting adults enjoying a recreational substance and each other’s company? Outrageous. Or maybe it was that they were eating fruit! The horror!
The only slightly shocking thing about the entire story was the possible food hygiene dilemma illustrated by UKCSC President Greg de Hoedt drinking directly from a ‘cannabis fountain.’ The dirty hippy.
Speaking of Greg de Hoedt, he was contacted by the Mail on Sunday before publication of the story, and asked to ‘justify’ the group’s actions. His response tore apart the conceit that this event was somehow an outrage.
“Most of the major cities in the UK have at least one if not more cannabis cafés that you can freely walk into, much like in Amsterdam, or Spain where citizens can freely join Cannabis Social Clubs – but Spain are protected under privacy laws.
“In the US half of the States have decriminalised for medical use and a handful of States have legalised for all adults and Canadian citizens are also able to use Vapour Lounges to consume cannabis. Ordinarily law-abiding UK citizens are left increasingly frustrated waiting for the Government to listen to evidence from across the globe.
“Private membership ‘Cannabis Social Clubs’ break the links to the black market by educating members about the supply chain – ethically sourcing – meaning funds are directed away from organised crime. There are many risks to buying cannabis on the black market, these range from being sold contaminated products to being robbed at knifepoint.
“Events are attended by patients suffering mild to very debilitating medical conditions – from Crohn’s to MS, serious spinal injuries, to those who require intensive pain-management; events offer a rare opportunity for many patients, like myself, to socialise without the threat and stigma that can often come with the subject of cannabis.
“The fact that these events are increasing in their frequency across the country highlights the drastic need to reform the UK’s cannabis laws. If cannabis consumers are at the stage where they are willing to come out and attend these events it shows we have turned a corner – we urge the Government to lead and not follow in the responsible regulation of cannabis for all adults and medical accesses for those who need it.”
By including some of Greg’s response in their article, the authors of this toy-hatchet job could be said to have shot themselves in the foot. If their intention was to derail attempts to legalise cannabis in the UK, they have certainly failed. In fact, what they have come up with is a gift to campaigners, who used their right of reply to tear apart the premise of the story and lay out how events such as this one do a far better job of protecting vulnerable people from harm than prohibition could ever do.
This was driven home by the article’s final, desperate attempt to manufacture controversy by interviewing the mother of one of the attendees – Ellie Milner, 23, from Birmingham. Her mother’s reaction perfectly summed up what has been the overwhelming reaction to this ‘story’ –
“She doesn’t drink. She doesn’t do any other drugs.
“She doesn’t hurt anyone. She’s a good kid. She has worked ever since she left college. She is 23 years old. She’s not a child. If I choose to drink three bottles of wine and get smashed that’s my business. If she chooses to do that, that’s her business.”