Following Belfast’s 3rd annual 420 Cannabis Celebration at Botanic Gardens The Gown, an independent student newspaper at Queens University got in touch asking for a statement regarding the cannabis legalisation campaign in Northern Ireland. As with most publications, editorial restrictions dictate what can be printed so here is the full statement.
The UK Government made a devastating admission on page 24 of its official reply (Command paper CM 6941 of October 2006) to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s Fifth Report of 2005-06, “Drug Classification: making a hash of it?”;
“… The distinction between legal and illegal substances is not unequivocally based on pharmacology, economic or risk benefit analysis. It is also based in large part on historical and cultural precedents.”
This reply demonstrates that the cannabis community is criminalized purely as a “cultural tradition” and this is a blatant violation of Article 14 of the ECHR which prohibits discrimination on any grounds.
The roots of this tradition can be dated back to 1922 when the British Government outlawed the cultivation of hemp in Swaziland and the rest of its empire to protect Egyptian cotton farmers from competition from hemp fibre following the invention of the cannabis decorticator (which enabled high quality hemp fibre to be easily extracted). See the Youtube documentary Strain Hunters Swaziland Expedition. The Egyptian Government used the immense leverage of Britain’s dependence on the Suez Canal to protect its own cotton farmers! This agenda is historically clear in Churchill’s determination to hang on to Egypt at all costs during WWII.
Every member of the UK cannabis community is thus victimised by legislation which pretends that cannabis is a dangerous drug which has no medical value and that alcohol and tobacco need not be classified as dangerous drugs at all. Three official reports expose this fraud.
- The Home Affairs Select Committee, in their Third Report of 2002, “THE GOVERNMENT’S DRUGS POLICY: IS IT WORKING?” concluded that there is an artificial divide between legal and illegal activities with drugs in paragraphs 9-13.
- The Fifth Report of the 2006 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee damningly concluded that the Government’s drug classification system was not evidence based and was not fit for purpose.
- In September 2006 the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs reported in “Pathways to Problems” that the classification system was based on historical and cultural factors and lacked a consistent and objective basis and they demanded that they (the ACMD) be explicitly consulted re the classification of alcohol and tobacco.
The intense Government propaganda war against cannabis has lost scientific credibility. When the ACMD Chairman, Professor David Nutt, was sacked in October 2009, for his criticism of the Government’s drug policy, even the national media reports indicated that the legislators were deliberately ignoring the medical evidence.
The Cannabis Community has been empowered by networking and by having web access to all the relevant legislation, official reports, scientific research and the global knowledge base on cannabis. Jacqui Smith has admitted that her decision to upgrade cannabis to a Class B drug was wrong and that education would have been a better option than criminalisation.
Whilst the UK Government claims that cannabis has no medical value, it made legislation in March 2013, both in Westminster and in Stormont, designating the preparation of cannabis extract, “Sativex”, as a relatively safe and effective medicine.
The Misuse of Drugs (Designation) (Amendment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2013 proves that our Minister of Health is lying, cannabis does have medicinal value and it does not belong in Schedule 1. Since the designation of cannabis into Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002, there is no lawful way anybody can possess it except for research purposes. This was done entirely according to the Minister’s opinion of what is in the public interest, using his devolved powers under section 7 of the MIsuse of Drugs Act 1971. This legislation re cannabis violates Convention rights and has brought the law into disrepute.
The Minister is breaking his Pledge of Office to promote equality and end discrimination for by his own admission he is criminalizing people purely as a cultural tradition, thus permanently criminalizing and socially excluding the N.I. Cannabis Community. This is totally at odds with his remit to deliver our health and social care on the basis of evidence and outcome and the legislative requirements of s2 and s13 of the Health and Social Care (Reform) Act (Northern Ireland) 2009 and sections 6, 24, 28E, 75, 98(4) and Schedule 4 of the Northern Ireland Act.
Section 98(4) of the Northern Ireland Act defines legislative discrimination:-
“For the purposes of this Act, a provision of an Act of the Assembly or of subordinate legislation discriminates against any person or class of persons if it treats that person or that class less favourably in any circumstances than other persons are treated in those circumstances by the law for the time being in force in Northern Ireland.”
By Matt Baggott’s own definition of hate crime as a, “crime where the perpetrator’s prejudice against an identifiable group of people is a factor in determining who is victimised,” this is a hate crime. The PSNI are thus obliged, by their own Code of Ethics, to bring the Minister of Health to justice for his misconduct in public office.
Crown Prosecution Service definition of misconduct in public office:
“The elements of the offence are summarised in Attorney General’s Reference No 3 of 2003  EWCA Crim 868.
The offence is committed when a public officer acting as such wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself to such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder without reasonable excuse or justification.”