Pubdate: Mon, 27 Oct 2014
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2014 Newsquest Media Group
Author: Flora Thompson
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)


CANNABIS is seen as a harmful and dangerous drug but many believe it
should be declassified. This year Brighton became home to a new
campaign group which openly uses the drug in public and is fighting to
make it legal. FLORA THOMPSON reports...

WALK through The Lanes on a Saturday afternoon and you may see someone
casually lighting up a cannabis 'joint'.

Members of the Brighton Cannabis Club flout the law in public as part
of their bid to make the drug legal.

Chairman Rob Davidson agreed to speak to The Argus about the
organisation, which was launched in January.

They already have 40 members and the club is still

Mr Davidson said the club was set up so cannabis consumers and
enthusiasts could meet and work towards reform.

The group claims the cost of prohibiting the possession, cultivation
and supply of cannabis is a waste of taxpayers' money and police time.

Mr Davison said: "If prohibition didn't work for alcohol why should it
work for cannabis? "People are persecuted for using cannabis. It is a
human rights issue. There is a stigma attached to its usage  it is
defined by its illegality.

"This is all quite new to us but we want to get the community's
support. We are not saying the drug is completely harmless.

"We meet in public places because we can't smoke inside. But we aren't
causing any harm to anyone.

"There's a lot worse crime going on in Brighton for the police to
focus on.

"In 2013 the cost of prohibiting drugs cost UKP13.3 billion and 50% of
drug possession arrests were for cannabis."

Mr Davidson, who turned to cannabis to treat insomnia, claims the law
encourages negative stereotyping of cannabis users, creating an
"unacceptable discrimination" in society.

The 20-year-old said: "We believe it is less harmless than
prescription drugs. Cannabis is categorised as a drug with high
potential for misuse with no medical benefit.

"This criminalises people who use cannabis for medicinal reasons and
stops health research into cannabis as a medical substance."

Mr Davidson believes legislation needs to be changed to catch up with
changing perceptions of the drugs use for health perks  and that
pharmaceutical companies were already manufacturing the drug in the UK
in a different form which was far more costly than if a patient were
permitted to grow a few plants in their loft. He said: "It can help a
wide variety of conditions from multiple sclerosis to attention
deficit hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety and a whole
lot more."

Mr Davidson, who works in IT, said studies have slammed claims that
the drug causes schizophrenia and psychosis and felt its illegality
caused a boom in the black market, making it easier for young people
to access.

The club is calling on the "madness" to end and hopes to launch a
co-op not-for-profit growing scheme which could directly help patients
and offer a safe and stable environment for recreational users.

He said: "After establishing a base of just a few people, we looked at
ways to create an environment where members could consume cannabis

He said members include those who believe in the drug's medicinal
benefits, recreational users and even parents who believe laws on
cannabis are "unjust, immoral, nonsensical, and must be changed".

He said: "We also have members who do not consume cannabis. We're here
to show we exist, we are here to stay and we are not a burden on society.

"We want to remove the burden prohibition places on cannabis consumers
and fight for the right for adults to consume the substance in a
regulated and legal market."

The club has held two outdoor events so far. The Green Pride Picnic
saw a hundred people, including founders of the Worthing Cannabis
Cafe, gather in Preston Park, Brighton, and 150 people took part in a
barbecue in East Brighton Park, Mr Davidson said.

He said: "We listened to reggae music all afternoon and openly
consumed cannabis."

The club's webpage said it does not provide "hook-up" details but
advises people to 'grow their own' instead.

Mr Davidson said: "Users are forced to go to a dealer and they can rip
you off. They are often controlled by gangs  not so much in Brighton
but in other areas  and we do not condone the exploitation and violent
underworld that can be associated with drugs.

"If we had a clubhouse we could create a not-for-profit organisation
where jobs would be created and people could grow cannabis for users
in a legal and regulated environment where it is more affordable.

The group organised a health talk in May with Clark French, founder of
the United Patients Alliance in Brighton, which supports medicinal
cannabis use.

The club has also taken part in national events, including the Hype
Park 'smoke up' attended by more than 400 people, while members travel
the world to research fellow clubs, Mr Davidson said.

Marc Emery, a Canadian cannabis reform campaigner, has been made an
honorary member of the group.
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MAP posted-by: Richard