After marijuana was legalized for medical and recreational use in Colorado and Washington state last year, the rest of the United States seems like it is on a fast track to catch up legalizing the leaf.

Leading counter-culture magazine, High Times, has begun producing a weekly summary of submitted bills and changes in legislation which shows a snapshot of just how busy pro-legalization campaigners are across the pond.  As joyous as it is to read the ever-expanding list of states that are pushing for cannabis legalization, it also fills us with disappointment that we still seem so far away from anything like this over in the UK.

As liberal Americans begin reaping the rewards of the tax dollars generated by legal marijuana, even some of the most staunchly Republican talking heads are starting to come around to the idea.

Conversely, here in the UK, we’re still being fed the same, tired old nonsense from the powers that be.

Just last week the UK’s Channel 4 aired a show called Drugs Live: Cannabis On Trial.  The premise was simple – three well known TV personalities would take cannabis on television and report back.  In the interests of scientific integrity, there were three different types of cannabis: a low potency strain which the programmers referred to as ‘hash’, a higher strength strain which they labelled ‘skunk’, and a placebo that contained none of the active ingredients of cannabis.  Straight from the snap it was obvious that this ‘trial’ was never going to be a fair one: in the weeks preceding the ‘live show’ the media drip-fed us clips of Channel 4 news anchor, Jon Snow, claiming that a hit from a Volcano vaporizer had ‘robbed him of his persona’ as he sobbed away inside an MRI scanner.  This very public ‘whitey’ was neither informative nor helpful.  All it really did is reaffirm public opinion that once again, the prohibitionists were being given the oxygen of publicity with very little consideration for science, or indeed, the truth.  Snow is not a regular smoker.  He nailed TWO full balloons of pure vapour, then got inside an MRI machine.  Seriously, what did he think was going to happen?

In the days following Drugs Live, politicians and journalists queued up to stick the boot in.  The British media was full of columns discussing addiction issues and referring to the herb as ‘a gateway drug’.  Neither Drugs Live nor any article we have seen in the mainstream media has properly made the distinction between what the media call ‘skunk cannabis’ and the actual skunk strain – Skunk #1 – these are two very different things, and the use of the word ‘skunk’ can only be there to create confusion.

With the UK’s general election in May fast approaching, many would have thought that this would be a good time for ambitious politicians to embrace the idea of legalizing and taxing marijuana.  After all, a live poll conducted on the Drugs Live show declared that 84% of Britons favoured legalization.  Yet still nobody seems interested.  Natalie Bennett of the Green Party has said that her party would decriminalize cannabis immediately if they were elected – which they won’t be.  Miliband of Labour believes in further criminalization of drugs – especially research chemicals or so called legal highs.  Incumbent Premier, David Cameron believes no reform is necessary, stating that current strategy is ‘working’.  Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats is the only major party leader to support decriminalization – but given that he reneged on virtually all of his pre-election promises when he formed the coalition government last time – who really believes him?

Overall, it’s a pretty grim picture for UK cannabis advocates.  As our American cousins surge ahead with new legislation, creating jobs, raising tax revenues, sharing knowledge and generally allowing their citizens access to this wonder plant and all the associated medical and non-medical benefits, we here in the UK continue to look back to the bad old days of Reefer Madness.

Britain, the nation of Darwin, Lyell, Hawking and Newton is being made to look a bit thick on this issue and it’s ‘high’ time, we rose up and did something about it.

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