Tuesday, 3 April 2018

The Need for a Cannabis-Focussed Political Party

The need for a cannabis-focussed political party.

I sincerely believe in our need for a political party that puts cannabis policy at its forefront to enable cannabis activists to enter the political arena.

I say this in the knowledge of opposition within the cannabis campaigning communities! I know full well that people will say that we should instead support the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats or other political parties that have a positive policy on cannabis. They have been saying that for decades but although those parties do create waves, they do not exactly represent the freedom and recognition of Rights that we want. They do not give us a chance to represent ourselves at election times. Instead they seldom mention and do not prioritise their cannabis policies enough: they do not recognise the any benefits of the plant and potential benefits to individuals, the Nation and the world.

I know that people will also say that a single-issue party will fail to gather man votes or that those votes will make no difference. Yet the type of party that I propose, although prioritising cannabis issues and uniting people under a single banner (legalisation of possession, cultivation and supply), allows candidates to hold and express their own opinions and policies on other issues: a single-issue party with multi-issue candidates. Their policies on other those other issues will attract or lose votes too. The chances to be heard will certainly make a difference.

Cannabis has an extremely wide range of associated issues: the utilisation of the plant has direct relevance to Human Rights, health and medicine, pollution and the environmental, farming, industry and employment, taxation and revenue, culture and religion.

Such a party did exist in the not-so-distant past: that was the Legalise Cannabis Alliance Party (LCA), 1999 to 2006. During that time, candidates fought in over 80 elections and although seldom gaining more than 3% of the vote in Parliamentary elections, doing better in local elections, in an all-up council election in Great Yarmouth in 2004 Michael Skipper received a vote from over 16% of the voters. http://www.ccguide.org/lca/lca.php

As well as enabling all those candidates to have their say, the LCA also distributed about one million fliers and had a presence on many news and other programs on radio and TV (including the Fastest Political Party race on Top Gear in which Mark Gibson for the LCA came second), spoke at universities and schools attended rallies and protests, produced a series of informational pamphlets and publications including “Cannabis: Challenging the Criminal Justice System) that gained thousands of signatures in support and a copy was sent to every MP including a copy in Braille to then Home Secretary David Blunkett. LCA also spoke at the Oxford Union and testified before a government panel set up to look at drugs law.

The aim of the LCA was primarily to give people a platform in the political arena and the support of a party focussed on cannabis.

Also its aims were to stimulate debate and to remove cannabis from the Misuse of Drugs Act.

LCA certainly provided the platform and certainly stimulated debate, yet of course the law on cannabis has not changed. Yet I consider it relevant that under David Blunkett cannabis was downgraded to class C and after LCA deregistered as apolitical party in 2006, cannabis was soon upgraded again: both changes were under a Labour Government.

Why did LCA deregister? Mainly because, after the invasion of Iraq and bombing of Afghanistan, with debates on such as ID issues, many members felt that other issues were immediately of greater importance. With de-registration though, came a loss of direction and unity and although LCA continued to exist as a campaigning group it became less active.

In 2011 Peter Reynolds was voted as leader (previously their was no single leader and candidates became leaders in their own community). Reynolds changes the name and policy, got rid or alienated many of the previous members, and formed his own party, the Cannabis Law Reform Party, badly-led dismal failure.

Then came CISTA: Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol party, founded by Paul Birch who funded just over 30 candidates. CISTA and Birch found a great deal of opposition and not everyone agreed with their main policy of calling for a Royal Commission. As I have said, I believe in the need for a political platform.

I also acknowledge that when it comes to voting, many people may decide that by voting for one prohibitionist party, Labour, they may help oust a worse prohibitionist part, the Conservatives. BUT forming and running a party focussed on cannabis, which none of the others do, is not about getting elected or winning votes, it’s about raising the issues at election times, being heard, representing ourselves. I was one of the two founders of the LCA, Jack Girling being the other, in 1999, and active in both its administration and campaigning. 

Now at over 68 years-of-age, I am not enthusiastic on doing it again. All it takes though, is a team of half a dozen people, including one to name as leader and one as treasurer, a short constitution and all else will follow.

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