The policy pursued at present by the Government flouts common justice and common sense.
Quite simply, the policy is illegal: cannabis is a safe, beneficial and natural commodity and the laws which ban it are clearly in violation of several articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The preamble to the UN Declaration, signed by Britain in 1948, establishes these Rights for all time: they are unchangeable and universally applicable. The preamble also explains that the Declaration in spirit is a declaration of the brotherhood and equality of man. It demands that we treat each other with respect and tolerance. How does the prohibition of a beneficial plant align with this? It does not.
Clearly, there is flagrant inconsistency between cannabis prohibition and the Principles and Articles.
It is a Human Right to choose and to change, to preach and to practise, one's religion or belief. To use cannabis in the belief that it is medically and spiritually beneficial is in accordance with Article 9 of the European Convention:
1. "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his or her religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practise, and observance."
2. "Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morale, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."
Cannabis has been in use as a sacrament for thousands of years. Many people believe it is an essential part of their ritual. Others believe it is essential for their health. Either way, what Right has the law to stop them using cannabis? None!
The articles in both the Declaration and the Convention make quite clear the criteria by which the law can be invoked to prevent a person from exercising his or her Rights:
- to protect the Rights of others,
- to protect law and order,
- to protect national security,
- to protect public well being or morality.
Cannabis smoking does not threaten public safety or public order, health or morals, nor threaten the rights of others.
Clearly, on none of these grounds can the law be invoked against a cannabis user. Rather it is the prohibiting of cannabis that breaks the law.
The law banning cannabis effectively prevents these people from practising their beliefs. It negates a basic Human Right. It is inexcusable.
The enforcement of cannabis prohibition directly contravenes the following articles of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 16, 18, 21, 25, 26, 28, 29 and 30. The prohibition of cannabis is illegal.
An example of this illegality in practice is the treatment meted out in our country to religious sects. Natural cannabis is one of many plants that have been used for the inducing and stimulating of religious states of mind in the individual or, ceremoniously, the group. Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Moslems, Jains, Rastafarians and many other religions have long made use of cannabis. They use it today; but usually in secrecy, for fear of arrest. Modern day New Age Travellers, the Universal Church of the Holy and Sacred Herb, The Church of the Universe, The Church of the Hemp Goddess - members of all these groups are arrested these days for smoking their sacrament. This is a direct consequence of the blanket prohibition of cannabis.
The affront to justice entailed in putting into practice our weird law relating to cannabis proves itself in the event, inevitably, to be at the same time an affront to sense. A blatant example: billions of pounds are spent each year providing ineffective medicines to people who claim, after all, to experience far more benefit from the smoking of cannabis. There are thousands suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, spinal injury, epilepsy, asthma, insomnia and stress-related illnesses who openly admit that they have needed to resort to cannabis to relieve their pain. And many of these, bizarrely, are taken to the courts!
After recommendations for an immediate change of law from the House of Lords, many doctors and many experts, and after a huge outcry from the general public, the Government has responded by allowing medical trials of organic cannabinoid extracts, declaring that if these trials are a success, then maybe in the future…!
In the meantime, literally millions of subjects are denied relief from pain, under threat of severe punishment. What sort of justice is that? What sort of sense?
We propose that the long known and many therapeutic values of cannabis be accepted immediately by the British Government and that cannabis in its natural form be made available without fear of prosecution to all whose health and well-being would benefit.
The legalising of cannabispossession, cultivation and supply would protect consumer's health: in effect it would act as a prophylactic against unknown and possibly noxious substances presently found in illegal cannabis on the streets of Britain.
Then again, how in the name of sense or of justice can one defend what our armaments, our industries, and our modes of transport do to the environment? For it is a question of justice, a matter of human rights.
The environment is an essential aspect of ourselves, and we bequeath it to the future. It can be said, without exaggeration, that what we do to the world today may be unchangeable for millions of years. Nuclear waste materials have half-lives beyond the imagination. (A half-life is the time it takes a radioactively poisonous material to decay to half its potency. During the equivalent period following, it decays half again. That means that some of our waste will be dangerous for millions of years. This in the interest of fuel, of energy and of profit!)
The widespread cultivation of cannabis (to recapitulate) could halt and reverse much of the polluting activity that our society so stupidly and criminally engages in. Cannabis biomass could be made to provide all our fuel virtually cost-free (given that the THC-rich parts of the plant were used recreationally and medically, the remainder being a by-product). The dangerous synthetic industries could be put out of business. Large tracts of land on which other crops cannot be grown successfully could be reclaimed. The Greenhouse Effect could be hugely reduced, enabling nature to undo some of what has been done to the ozone layer. And so on…
We have asked why successive Governments have failed to take these facts into consideration and act upon them. We have received no satisfactory answer.
The Government's strategy in relation to cannabis is at once outrageous and ludicrous. Such a fuss about a plant, a remarkably safe plant! Such a pother about responsible people enjoying a 'high'!
They claim that cannabis is a dangerous drug. Claim it still, despite the evidence of their own studies!
Each year, for the crime of possessing this 'dangerous' substance, more and more people are arrested and taken through the courts. And the process costs the taxpayer billions of pounds.
But this figure - this tally - is of course dwarfed by the amount the multi-national corporations accumulate in producing synthetic alternatives to hemp.
Just look at the world: sick, starving, war-torn, polluted, crime-riddled and drug-addicted!