Cannabis in the U.K.

Many European countries are re-evaluating their laws concerning the personal use of soft-drugs. Following the lead of the Netherlands which clearly divides soft drug use (marijuana and hashish) from hard, highly addictive drugs (meth and heroin), Belgium, Spain, Portugal and now the U.K. are decriminalizing and destigmatizing soft drug use.

If Tony Blair's government actually implements the changes scheduled for July 1, 2003, cannabis will become a Class C drug, making the possession of cannabis for personal use subject to confiscation, warnings and fines rather than imprisonment.

The highly successful Brixton experiment, was responsible for the change in attitude, especially among the police. They discovered that by not focusing their efforts on marijuana prosecution the police had much more time to go after hard drug dealing and other criminal activity.

In the meantime, until July 1, 2003, there is a sort of limbo regarding cannabis prosecution. The Blair government has said it would begin phasing in the reduced penalties as soon as the fall of 2002. But there are other issues involved as cannabis activists still aren't satisified with the changes because they don't go far enough.

All over the U.K. activists are attempting to open up Dutch style coffeeshops to cater to the needs of medical marijuana patients as well as serving the demand for quality cannabis among the millions of users in the U.K. The most successful of these attempts has been the Dutch Experience in Stockport, which as of this moment is still open for business, dispensing high quality marijuana to those in need.

This is a very important development as it presages the next phase of cannabis tolerance, which is legal marijuana selling coffeeshops. Unfortunately the conservative elements in the government are tacking on INCREASED penalties for those who distribute cannabis, putting the coffeeshop owners and personnel at greater risk of imprisonment. So public support for these endeavors is very important at this time to show that people prefer buying high quality cannabis in a legal establishment to "dirty", inferior cannabis from street dealers. This is very important for those with medical needs who should only smoke the purest form obtainable.

Which leads us to the real problem with cannabis in Britain. It's called Soap Bar because it comes in cellophane packages that look just like a bar of soap. People seem unsure of what exactly is in this dark "hash", but it certainly isn't good quality hashish. Yet this is what has been flooding the U.K. for years, and it seems everyone is smoking it. Whatever impurities it might contain are certainly cause for concern, not just because you must smoke much more of it to get high, but because those impurities can be very dangerous to the health of smokers.

A small campaign is being waged to make people aware that this Soap Bar is a potentially dangerous rip-off and to get people to boycott buying it. But as it seems to be everywhere and cheap, it continues to thrive in the marketplace.

People are being urged to support any Coffeeshops that open in their area, and purchase their cannabis there. The price might be higher per gram than Soap Bar, but a gram would last four times longer, and get you far higher than Soap Bar can.

It appears that there's a boom in clandestine grow operations all over the country. Small and large grow rooms are now supplying an ever increasing quantity of high quality marijuana. However these people do face increased penalties for growing once the new law takes effect.

It's up to the cannabis users and supporters of Britain to become even more active and vocal especially in their communities if the laws are to change further. The Dutch model is very successful and should be emulated. Yet the government should go further and LEGALIZE growing and possession for personal use. This would remove the criminal element completely from the issue and give people the freedom to choose what they put in their own bodies and help thousands of people who require marijuana to ease their pain and suffering.


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