The first clear prohibitions arrived in the Middle Ages. In 1484, the Pope, Innocent VIII, outlawed it – some Moslem leaders had done the same not long before, perhaps influenced by their fear of the hashishin cult. Maybe to spite her Papist rivals, Queen Elizabeth I actually released a decree compelling large landowners to grow the plant, though this was more for its agricultural and industrial uses particularly the manufacture of paper than any desire to help her subjects get off their faces on a regular basis. Even so, there was still no outright prohibition in the laws of most countries of the world, to almost all of which, by this time, the plant had spread. In the 1600s, the British including the Pilgrim Fathers took cannabis with them to the New World and created huge hemp plantations in what became the United States. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
Therefore, there is almost no record, throughout the 3,500-year period I”ve summarized above in two paragraphs, of any attempt to restrict personal use of cannabis nor indeed any intoxicating substance. Did this mean the world was more tolerant then? In some ways, yes – but the draconian penalties imposed on transgressors in other areas of the law e.g., the death penalty for poaching shows the real attitudes of the time to “crime”. That is, that the activities of the “poor” are of interest to lawmakers only when they threaten the activities, lifestyle or most importantly of all the property of the “rich”.
Until the dawn of the Victorian era, the primarily agricultural basis of society and the specialization of war-making with small professional armies and no widespread mobilization of the “general public” at times of war meant that it wasn”t of any great consequence to the propertied classes what the poor got up to in their evenings. Come the industrial era, however, and the extreme increase in the need to mobilize the general public whether to go and work in factories or to be enlisted as soldiers, this tolerance was heading for a rapid nosedive – though not as immediately as you might think.
Today there are many organizations dedicated to legalizing Cannabis The Bloc Pot is one of them and they’re a young party, they have existed since September 1998 but their results so far show great promise for the future. They believe that the political approach to the cannabis prohibition problem will prove to be effective in helping put an end to the injustice inflicted on marijuana users and advocates.
It is up to us to make our elected leaders understand that we have the power and as long as they do not respect the will of the majority, the majority will take matters into their own hands through the power of their votes. Together we can put an end to cannabis prohibition and improve the social climate. Cannabis users will finally be able to gain legitimate status without the risks of judicial persecution because of their choice to consume a substance that is allegedly “illegal”. Cannabis possession will no longer be a crime! Make way for the winds of change!
The Committee also examined the international obligations and repercussions of Canada’s cannabis policies as well as approaches taken by other countries. It studied the impact of more liberal policy approaches to cannabis in countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain along with more restrictive policies such as Sweden, France or the United States. There is a clear international trend to reassessing domestic drug policy such as recent initiatives toward decriminalisation in the United Kingdom.
The medicinal use of cannabis should be legalised, a House of Lords report recommends.
The report, by the Lords select committee on science and technology, says that people who take cannabis to ease the symptoms of debilitating conditions such as multiple sclerosis should not live in fear of prosecution.
It also calls for research into developing cannabis-based medicines to be speeded up, and accuses the body that licenses new drugs of dragging its feet.
The Medicines Control Agency MCA is insisting that new data is made available on the possible toxic effects of cannabis.
But the Lords report says this data is not necessary, as cannabis has been used in medicine for hundreds of years.
It says the MCA stance could delay the introduction of cannabis-based medicines by up to three years.
No viable alternative
We consider it undesirable to prosecute genuine therapeutic users of cannabis who possess or grow cannabis for their own use
House of Lords Science and Technology Committee
The Lords report said: “In the absence of a viable alternative medicine, and though we would not encourage smoking of cannabis, we consider it undesirable to prosecute genuine therapeutic users of cannabis who possess or grow cannabis for their own use.
“This unsatisfactory situation underlines the need to legalize cannabis preparations for therapeutic use.”
There were 89,000 prosecutions involving cannabis in 1998, but it is not known how many of these people were taking the drug for medicinal purposes.
Two major trials into its therapeutic uses were recently given grants worth a total of Â£1.5m by the Medical Research Council.
However, the Lords report criticized the slow pace of the studies and said the stigma surrounding cannabis was “inhibiting” research in the area.
In evidence to the Lords hearing, Home Office Minister Charles Clarke said the government would not stand in the way of an MCA-approved cannabis-based drug being prescribed by doctors.
The report said: “In effect, the minister assured us that once a safe, effective, cannabis-based medicine had been licensed by the MCA, the government would actively co-operate in permitting it to be prescribed.”
But it also said: “We are concerned that the MCA”s approach to the licensing of cannabis-based medicines … could delay the approval of such medicines.”
One company, G W Pharmaceuticals, has claimed they could have a cannabis-based prescription medicine available by 2003.
But the MCA”s demand for new toxicology data could delay any launch by two to three years.
The claims by medical users that cannabis reduces the symptoms of MS has been confirmed by UK government trials. The study, of more than 600 patients, published in the Lancet medical journal, also provided some evidence that they boosted mobility.
Other physical proof of the drugs effects on symptoms did not emerge however. Slightly more patients on the cannabis extract reported benefits than those on THC, an active compound found in cannabis.
MS sufferers have been claiming these beneficial effects for years, many sufferers break the law buying illegal cannabis and self-help groups such as THC4MS have been supplying sufferers, but they run the risk of arrest and many medical users have been dragged through the courts.
This study shows that cannabis really does make these ill people feel better; these claims cannot be ignored any longer.
BBC News report
UKCIA medical section
Claire Hodges, a multiple sclerosis sufferer and a member of the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, said: “The report is recognizing that there is a problem and we welcome that.
“At the moment, the law is a nonsense. People are prosecuted for using something that eases their pain and distress, which is appalling.”
A Home Office statement said: “We are pleased to be able to approve the select committee”s understanding of our desire to see the matter properly resolved through science and the efficacy of a medicinal form of cannabis being established scientifically.”
He said the government approved research and clinical trials into using cannabis medicinally.
“If clinical trials into cannabis are successful and lead to a medical preparation, which is approved by the MCA, the government has made it clear it would be willing to amend the misuse of drugs regulations to allow the prescription of such a medicine.”
“If the clinical trials into cannabis are successful and they do lead to a medical preparation which is approved by the Medicines Control Agency, the Government is absolutely clear that we are willing to amend the Misuse of Drugs Regulations to allow the prescribing of such medicine.”
Charles Clarke, Secretary of State for Health February 2001