The Guardian has an interesting article out today on the growth of so-called "cannabis clubs" that have sprung up in the U.K.
From The Guardian:
Over the past few years, local cannabis clubs have blossomed over Britain. There are now 49 around the UK, which are united by the UK Cannabis Social Club, an organisation founded in 2011 to represent cannabis users. Operating primarily through Facebook, (the LCC's page has had 39,301 likesthe clubs bring cannabis users together from all over Britain to discuss topics ranging from fertiliser to self-medication and campaigning for the decriminalisation of the drug. They also organise meetings, from a recent 10,000 person smoke-out in Hyde Park to more intimate evenings such as tonight's soiree, allowing pensioners, students, bricklayers and bankers to talk about one of their favourite hobbies.
Clubs like the London Cannabis Club (LCC) continue despite the possession of marijuana being illegal in the U.K. As the head of the LCC points out, talking about pot is not against the law:
The fact that growing and possessing cannabis is illegal in Britain does not deter many cannabis clubs across the UK from using social media to publicise meetings – "It's not illegal to talk about cannabis," says Boon – and the openness is part of the campaign for normalisation. Members themselves usually keep their involvement private: "Many of the people I've met have families, high-profile jobs, mortgages and all sorts, and are terrified of losing everything," he adds.
LCC's Facebook page (visit it here), includes not only a collection of pot-related news from around the world, it also features pictures of marijuana sent in by members (example below):
The existence of clubs like the ones mentioned in The Guardian could be used by British drug warriors like Peter Hitchens to back up their claim that the war on drugs is a myth:
How is it that, in a country where drugs are supposedly illegal — where 'evil dealers' are endlessly denounced — that drugs are so common and that little or nothing happens to those who are caught in possession of them? How did the 'cannabis warning', a gesture without force or penalty, unsanctioned by Parliament, become the preferred response of the police to the crime of possession? How can Pete Doherty drop illegal drugs on the floor of a courthouse, be caught by a security guard and yet walk free from the building, if we are — as we are so often told — running a regime of stern prohibition?
The answer is that the official version of events is simply false. Since a momentous Cabinet meeting in February 1970, there has been no 'war on drugs' in this country, only the official pretence of one.
Of course, the U.K. doesn't wage anywhere near as aggressive a war on drugs as the U.S. does. However, the fact remains that possession of drugs in the U.K. can result in a prison term. Supplying drugs can also result in a prison term, and the British government considers sharing drugs as supplying. In June, the British government reported that over 10,000 people in England and Wales were in prison for drug offenses, representing 14 percent of the sentenced prison population.
There may be cannabis clubs in the U.K., but the growing and possession of the product they are dedicated to is, unfortunately, still illegal.
Thankfully, it looks like Hitchens holds a minority view when it comes to British drug policy, and at least one British law enforcement official, the chief constable of Durham Constabulary, believes that making drugs legal would be a good policy change.