The plant Cannabis Sativa, commonly known as hemp, has a long and complicated history as one of the most versatile, yet controversial natural resources on earth. By some, it is demonised as ‘the devil’s weed’, while others exalt it as a potential saviour for our planet’s dire environmental predicament.
So where does all this notoriety stem from? Is it time the UK joined the growing list of countries which have legalised cannabis for medical purposes?
A lot of the confusion surrounding cannabis is down to semantics. Hemp, marijuana, weed and any of the myriad of names the plant is sometimes referred to, are all different varieties of the same species. Various strains of cannabis sativa can be bred for specific purposes; for example, the fibres it contains, or for its buds containing THC (the compound which gets you high). This latter substance derived from the plant is what gives it it’s criminalised status as a Class B drug.
As most people are aware, cannabis in this country is very much illegal. A person caught in possession of it could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years, a hefty fine; or both. Not, therefore, a thing to be taken lightly.
However, it is taken lightly. Cannabis Sativa is taken as a food supplement, as an oil and even worn as clothing. In fact the uses for hemp are so wide ranging it’s nothing short of mind-boggling and the reason it has earned its status as one of the most versatile natural resources available to us.
To find out more, Truthfal caught up with Candy Meskin, owner of the shop Quintessential in Truro and someone who has been selling hemp based products for over 30 years. We asked her what she thought should be done about how UK law currently treats cannabis consumption. She said: “If they were to legalise hemp seeds then people could grow their own hemp and produce their own CPD because, to me the best way of taking it, especially if you’re not very well, would be to have it as a fresh juice, so rather like you would take a cup of wheat-grass.
The government won’t legalise the plant because they know it would eliminate the need for Big Pharma
“Not only that, then you would have people growing it in their own local soil, which is what your body’s used to. That would be the ultimate ideal, that everybody grows their own; or buys it at a local garden market which produces it fresh everyday, like you would buy a salad vegetable.”
I went on to ask why she thinks such a polarised debate surrounds the legalisation of cannabis. She said: “If you look at the sale of analgesics and of opiates in California and Colorado, you will see that as soon as they saw to what extent people stopped taking other medicines, that’s when they really started to jump down on it. In the beginning they were saying ‘cannabis is not a medicine it’s a drug’, which is where the UK government is at now, I mean it’s in the dark ages! Some of the most prestigious medical authorities around the world have proven all sorts of positive things associated with cannabis and yet they still won’t acknowledge it.”
Someone who advocates cannabis for medicinal use is Jay, founder of the Cornwall Cannabis Revolution. Truthfal spoke to him about why he thinks cannabis is still illegal, despite mounting evidence that improves improves conditions for some patients.
He said: “It comes down to the pharmaceutical companies making money out of selling drugs to sick people, so the government won’t legalise the plant because they know it would eliminate the need for Big Pharma, but not only that it can be used to build cars and gate houses and almost anything, and it’s so much cheaper. So what they’re doing is protecting industries at the expense of people who really need it.”
Talking about why he started the Cornwall Cannabis Revolution, Jay explained: “I’m ex-army and I was suffering from PTSD. I used to be very anti everything when it came to drugs and it was my mum who actually came up to me one day and was like, try this. I coughed my guts up the first time I tried it, but it’s really made such a difference. Within a year of using it for medical reasons it had completely sorted me out. I managed to get myself a job, a house, a girlfriend. But what I noticed was that when I wanted to go and pick some up, I always had to meet with some dodgy geezer, in a dodgy area and so many times I was offered other types of drugs, like acid or pills and obviously I don’t want any of it. And I suddenly felt like I needed to do something about it, so that’s why I started this campaign.”
Jay’s story really highlights a massive issue for people who require cannabis for its proven medicinal benefits. As we saw recently in the media in the case of six-year-old Alfie Dingley who suffers from a rare condition which means he can suffer up to 30 potentially life-threatening seizures a day. His symptoms dramatically improve when he is administered cannabis oil, however on UK soil it is prohibited.
His parents are currently part of the ongoing campaign for British laws to be changed to legalise cannabis for medicinal use.