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Cannabis in the United Kingdom

Cannabis is an illegal drug in the United Kingdom, but it is still very widely used.

Contents

Usage

Cannabis is widely used throughout the United Kingdom, by people of all ages and from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Its use is particularly pronounced among teenagers be it those adhering to alternative culture (e.g. goth, punk, indie, rock), or drum and bass/jungle ravers, or in one of many other groups exposed to a common youth culture as depicted by popular tv series such as Skins.

Cannabis is often linked to young people beginning to smoke tobacco, unlike in North America, cannabis is often smoked with tobacco. This claim is often disputed however due to the frequency of smoking needed to actually get someone addicted to the nicotine in tobacco. As well as the use of tobacco when smoking cannabis, many people in Britain use a 'roach card' rather than rolling cannabis throughout, a custom not unique to the United Kingdom but far more common than in places such as America.

Location

Some liberal or bohemian areas of major cities are associated with cannabis use:

In London, these include Brixton, Stockwell, Camden Town, Queen's Crescent, Ladbroke Grove,New Cross, Lewisham Peckham and Camberwell.

In Manchester, the Northern Quarter, Cheetham Hill, Oldham and Fallowfield are known for the ease of availability of the drug. Near to Manchester, the town of Bolton is particularly well known for the ease to obtain Cannabis in multiple forms.

Cannabis ranges in price across the country. Although generally deemed to be around £20 for an 'eighth' (of an ounce; 3.5g) in actuality the amount given can be a lot less, in many places by around a gram so that £20 would only buy (2.5g). These discrepancies tend to decrease as the nominal amount increases, acting as a 'bulk discount' reflecting economies of scale. Also in the cannabis market, inflation tends to reduce the quantity of cannabis that can be purchased for a set price, rather than increase the nominal price of a set quantity ('bag') of cannabis. However, there is a growing acceptance amongst consumers that higher-potency chronic will be sold at smaller weights - sometimes less than 2g for £20.

The Law

Cannabis is illegal to possess, grow, distribute and sell for medical and recreational purposes. It is a Class B drug but police tend to not focus on cannabis very often and will very rarely arrest someone for possession, although they will confiscate the drug. A Class B drug means that you can get up 15 years in prison for the distribution.

See also

References


Cannabis (Cán-na-bis) is a widely used drug in the United Kingdom. It is a plant which is not native to the British Isles but one that was probably introduced from mainland Europe towards the end of the Roman occupation. The old traditional name in Britain for Cannabis sativa is hemp and that name is still used in the United Kingdom by growers and processors of industrial cannabis, however, it is the word cannabis which is the more popular generic term to cover both the plants and plant products. A number of organisations are advocating a reform of its legality.

Contents

History

The oldest evidence of cannabis in Britain is of some seeds found in a well in York. .[1] Over time its cultivation spread wildly. The medical properties of cannabis have been recorded since the dawn of history and it is mentioned (as hænep) in the surviving text of an Anglo-Saxon herbal. However, since it appears to have been mostly grown around the coastal areas it suggests the main reason for cultivating it was undoubtedly as a source of vegetable fibre which was stronger and more durable than stinging nettle or flax. This makes it ideal for making into cordage, ropes, fishing nets and canvas. Indeed, when cannabis is grown for fibre it is sown close together so that the plants need to grow tall and strong to compete with each other for light. This encourages the cannabis plants to produces more fibre at the expense of the medically useful cannabinoid compounds.[2] [3]

Usage

Recreational

Cannabis is widely used throughout the United Kingdom, by people of all ages and from all socioeconomic backgrounds.[4] Its use is particularly pronounced among teenagers be it those adhering to alternative culture (e.g. goth, punk, indie, rock), or drum and bass/jungle ravers, or in one of many other groups exposed to a common youth culture as depicted by popular television series such as Skins.

Cannabis is often linked to young people beginning to smoke tobacco, unlike in North America, cannabis is often smoked with tobacco in the United Kingdom (known as a 'spliff'). This claim is often disputed however due to the frequency of smoking needed to actually get someone addicted to the nicotine in tobacco. As well as the use of tobacco when smoking cannabis, many people in Britain use a 'roach card' rather than rolling cannabis throughout, a custom not unique to the United Kingdom but far more common than in places such as America.

Boiled cannabis seed is frequently used by British sport fishermen, as fish are very fond of this as bait.[5]

Prevalence and price

Some liberal or bohemian areas of major cities are associated with cannabis use:

In London, these include Brixton, Stockwell, Camden Town, Queen's Crescent, Ladbroke Grove, New Cross, Lewisham, Woolwich, Peckham, Harlesden, Kensal Rise, Southall and Camberwell.

Cannabis ranges in price across the country. Although generally deemed to be around £20 for an 'eighth' (of an ounce; 3.5g) in actuality the amount given can be a lot less, in many places by around a gram so that £20 would only buy (2.5g). These discrepancies tend to decrease as the nominal amount increases, acting as a 'bulk discount' reflecting economies of scale. Also in the cannabis market, inflation tends to reduce the quantity of cannabis that can be purchased for a set price, rather than increase the nominal price of a set quantity ('bag') of cannabis. However, there is a growing acceptance amongst consumers that higher-potency cannabis will be sold at smaller weights - sometimes less than 2g for £20. In London £10 can get you a "benny" which is around 1.5g. Or in Northern Ireland in areas such as Belfast and Bangor, you would be paying £10 for a 'wee gram' which is usually on the dot 1g.

Modern industrial cannabis market

Since 1993 the Home Office has been granting licences for the purposes of cultivate cannabis and processing cannabis. The UK government now provides free business advice and support services for growers and processors of cannabis. They can also issue licences for importing cannabis from abroad. [6] The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) provides help and advice with obtaining financial assistance via the Single Payment Scheme. In England further funding may be available from Rural Development Programme for England.

Medicinal cannabis

Apart from a synthetic cannabinoid called Nabilone, (which has many side effects) the only cannabis based medicine that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has ‘stated’ that it does not object to is Sativex. As Sativex is still an unlicensed medicine in the UK, it can be prescribed on a 'named patient' basis only. Whilst the cannabis extract used to produce this medication is grown in England, the medical product itself has to be reimported from Canada where it has already obtained regulatory approval and become a registered medicine.[7] Meanwhile, the Dutch government contracts Bedrocan BV to produce and supply standardized medicinal cannabis which is guaranteed free from contamination in 3 varieties to cover a range of indications.[8] However, the majority of cannabis users who use it to relieve their medical conditions, do so without legal approval.

File:Carduelis cannabina
Carduelis cannabina

Animals

Mice, rats and fowl are all known to like cannabis seed and it is a favoured food amongst some British pigeon fanciers. The Linnets' fondness of the cannabis seed has earned it the Latin species name of cannabina. By and large, cannabis seed is too expensive to be used as general feed stock but once the oil has been pressed out the remaining seed cake is still nutritious.

The plant itself has not been used as fodder, as too much makes animals sicken, but due to its unpleasant taste they will not eat it unless there is no other food available. Therefore, the soft core of the cannabis plant which remains after the fibres are removed, provides good animal bedding which can absorb more moisture than either straw or wood shavings. [9]

Legality

Cannabis is illegal to possess, grow, distribute or sell in the UK without the appropriate licences.[10] It is a Class B drug, with penalties for unlicensed dealing, unlicensed production and unlicensed trafficking of up 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.[10] The maximum penalty for unauthorised or sanctioned possession is five years in prison.[10]

If prescribed and bought legally in another country (for example Holland), then it is legal to import and posses up to 3 months supply for personal medical use under the Schengen Agreement.

Advocacy for law reform

Because prohibition has made psychotropic drugs in general very available, and without controls on adulterants or to whom they are sold to, a number of organizations have been set up with the aim of reforming the law on these unregulated substances.

The Liberal Democrat Party, which formed a coalition government with the Conservative Party after the 2010 election, has long campaigned to have the current UK drugs policy reformed [11]

The current Prime Minister David Cameron, when serving in opposition, sat on the Select Committee on Home Affairs and voted to call on the Government to “initiate a discussion” within the UN about “alternative ways - including the possibility of legalisation and regulation - to tackle the global drugs dilemma”. [12]

In June 2010 it accidentally came to light that the Home office had been avoiding complying with the FOI request because it would expose the lack of evidence that its current drug policy had. Although this control of public opinion has been an open secret for a long time, such blatant exposure is a rare occasion. [13] [14] [15]

See also

References

  1. ^ Wild, John Peter (April 2003). Textiles in Archaeology. United Kingdom: Shire Publications. p. 22. ISBN 9780852639313. 
  2. ^ Fleming, M. P.; Clarke, R. C. (1998). "Physical evidence for the antiquity of Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabaceae)" (PDF). Journal of the International Hemp Association (5): 80–92. http://www.goa-shoom.net/botanica/Fleming%20and%20Clarke_antiquity%20of%20Cannabis%20sativa%20L_IJHA%201998.pdf. 
  3. ^ Whittington, Graeme; Edwards, Kevin J. (December 1990). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "The cultivation and utilisation of hemp in Scotland"]. Scottish Geographical Journal 106 (3): 167–173. 
  4. ^ Miller, Patrick; Martin Plant (2002-02-01). "Heavy cannabis use among UK teenagers: an exploration". Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd) 65 (3). doi:10.1016/S0376-8716(01)00165-X. ISSN 0376-8716. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6T63-452YFFB-5/2/7880dedd0f877604824b7fe610a10901. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  5. ^ John Moore; Eric Taverner (2006). The Angler's Weekend Book. Read Books. p. 109. ISBN 9781406797916. 
  6. ^ Business Link Dot Gov Dot UK [1] Accessed 2010-05-15
  7. ^ Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (15 Nov 2005) Press release: Importation of Sativex Accessed 2010-05-15
  8. ^ Bedrocan BV Official website
  9. ^ Hemcore animal bedding accessed 2010-05-15
  10. ^ a b c "Drug Laws". United Kingdom Home Office. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs/drugs-law/. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  11. ^ The Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform official website. Accessed 2010-05-15
  12. ^ The Independent on Sunday (Wednesday, 7 September 2005) Tory contender calls for more liberal drug laws. Accessed 2010-05-16
  13. ^ Martin Rosenbaum (08:45 UK time, Friday, 25 June 2010) Home Office error reveals how FOI request handled Accessed 2010-06-27
  14. ^ The Press Association (25 June 2010) Ministers 'covered up drugs report'. Accessed 2010-06-27
  15. ^ Mark Easton (17:47 UK time, Friday, 25 June 2010) Critical public interest Accessed 2010-06-27







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