CBD oil from hemp is already legal, fortunately for this website and a lot of patients worldwide who depend on it. But over in the USA another two states this week – Oklahoma and Tennessee – legalized CBD oil from cannabis. Texas looks like it will soon follow suit. The number of states to have enacted CBD laws in the last year is dramatic. On paper, these are the least likely states to ever do anything pro-cannabis, and yet here they are: Tennessee, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Iowa, Utah, Florida, Georgia etc. All of these states, these corners of the US which often get mocked for being full of ignorant hillbillies and hicks, all of these states have taken on a more progressive policy towards cannabis than the United Kingdom.
In the UK we like to think of ourselves as worldly-wise, and educated, and compassionate. Yet we continue to criminalize children who use CBD oil from cannabis to treat their epilepsy. If Georgia is prepared to permit THC levels up to 5% why can’t we?
As I see it, there are three main reasons for this situation. Let’s go through them one at a time:
1) Our Rabid, Hateful Press
While in the USA much of the press remain skeptical about cannabis legalization, the most over-the-top Reefer Madness journalism has largely gone away. People just don’t take seriously the reporting of cannabis as a plant that will make you crazy, or leave you dead in a pool of your own blood. People roll their eyes at that stuff. The prohibitionists in the US have had to change course drastically, and find new arguments to attack cannabis. They focus now on fear of “Big Marijuana” and how more kids will get hooked with legalization.
In the UK, thanks to the ubiquitous Daily Mail, Reefer Madness is alive and kicking. According to stories published in the last couple of years, cannabis might kill 30,000 people a year, is responsible for 25% of all psychosis cases, and causes cancer.
The point is this, the British public have been systematically misled about cannabis. They have been brainwashed to believe it’s more dangerous than alcohol (something even Barack Obama acknowledges is nonsense), and where as millions of Americans have seen first-hand the benefits of medical cannabis, most Brits only associate cannabis with scummy-looking stoners and horror stories from the Daily Mail.
2) We Have No Voter Initiative Program
In many US states a system of grass roots democracy exists where by the people can bypass their elected representatives (AKA corporate shills) altogether. Groups of activists can form and then travel around the state canvassing for signatures. If a certain amount of signatures are collected the issue then makes it onto the ballot at the next election.
This is the reason so many US states have medical cannabis laws. Were it left up to elected representatives no way in a million years would most of these states have passed such laws. In California alone 1.9 million people have tried medical cannabis, with 92% saying it works. How many of those 1.9 million people would have suffered and died were it left up to politicians?
The UK needs to develop something similar. Call it plebiscite or direct democracy. Call it what you want, but we should have the power to collectively pass laws. There would certainly have been a referendum on EU membership by now, and there would likely also be a system of medical cannabis in place.
Instead, without a voter initiative program, we have a Tory party in power which garnered support of a little over 35% of the electorate. If that’s what UK democracy looks like, Cameron can shove it up his Oxbridge arse.
3) There Is A Strong Libertarian Streak In The US
While many in Europe scoff at the silly rednecks who leave shot guns under their pillow and look like Elmer Fudd, the strong libertarian, “get government out of my life” mindset seems pretty sound to me. Why should a government official have the right to tell me I shouldn’t smoke a plant? How is that curtailing of my freedom necessary to preserve society?
Unfortunately, in the UK a very different attitude has taken root in the last 20 years – a sort of cloying nanny state attitude, which I personally find nauseating and absurd.
Several aspects of this attitude bug me. Perhaps foremost is the childlike naivete that you can make the world safe with enough regulation and red tape; that if we just tweak the elephantine collection of laws already on the books all will be well. News flash: we’re spinning around the sun on a giant ball of rock, in bodies that are decaying every day. THERE IS NO SAFETY. Making driving without a seat belt illegal changes nothing.
Clearly I fall on the libertarian side of the issue, but to me governments are a nuisance that get between people and their freedom to live as they choose.
So I really wish we had more of the American skepticism towards big, encroaching government. With more of that quality the drug laws which are falling like nine-pins across the US would be falling here as well. Drug prohibition is a violation of personal freedom. End of story.
Conclusion: Oklahoma and Tennessee Are More Progressive on Drug Policy Than The UK
So that’s my reasoning for how Oklahoma and Tennessee became more progressive than the UK, at least in relation to drug policy. I also expect them to get full medical cannabis before the UK, and probably recreational cannabis as well.
Who knows, maybe before we shuffle off this mortal coil the UK will actually reform its drug laws. But I’m not holding my breath.
Edit – Links updated 28/09/2018