The UK Legalise Cannabis Alliance Student Movement exists to campaign for the legalisation of Cannabis and for the reintroduction of Hemp into society.
We aim to set up Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) groups at Student Unions across the country and bring the issue of legalisation to the forefront of public consciousness.
Why we believe Cannabis should be legal?
Cannabis (Hemp) is a plant that grows naturally throughout much of the world. Over half of the UK’s population have used Cannabis at least once and according to a recent study published in the Lancet medical journal over 8% of the population were found to be regular users. In the same study Cannabis was listed as a safer drug than both alcohol and tobacco.
We believe the prohibition of Cannabis has had a counter-productive effect on attempts to control its usage and has actually exacerbated any attempts to reduce the harm of the drug.
I.E. the illegality discouraging addicted users from seeking help.
Users often find that their own experiences with the drug do not correlate with the dangers touted in the press and by the government when pushing the War on Drugs.
We believe that there is no logical reason to legally allow people to use alcohol and tobacco but not cannabis, since the social and economic benefits of legalising Cannabis completely outweigh the dangers of the drug (including its selectively bred hybrid cousins, i.e. Skunk).
When we consider that there are already a huge number of people using it, mostly with no ill effect to anyone else other than to their selves.
These people hold down jobs in all professions, are from all social groupings and we believe it to be completely immoral to class them alongside criminals. Subsequently we believe it should be up to the individual to decide whether he or she uses Cannabis, whether for medical, recreational or religious reasons. Even simply for experimenting with ones own consciousness.
The plant itself has many different non-psychoactive uses and there were thousands upon thousands of fields of Hemp growing all over the world, until we all got drafted into the US led War on Drugs.
After which, the overwhelming majority of Europe’s Hemp fields were destroyed.
Hemp’s usefulness is found in its benefits as a fast growing crop in most weather conditions, as a food source, for its fibres and in the production of bio-fuels. People who want to grow Hemp currently need to get a government license and we feel this restricts the economy of a potentially very useful plant. Fortunately there is currently a revival to some degree of Hemp farming virtually all over the world, except the United States.
What we’re going to do about it…
• Lobby MPs.
• Raise awareness in the community through talks and organising events.
• Organise demonstrations.
• Providing a forum for like-minded people to discuss and campaign for their ideas.
• Provide information about the Hemp plant, supporting the Hemp growing industry.
• Taking a stand against the harassment of medical users of Cannabis by the authorities.
• Support the right of the individual to choose their own religious sacraments (entheogens).
The Campaign for the Legalisation of Cannabis- an issue for the NUS?
The short answer to this question is a resounding YES.
1. Large numbers of students use Cannabis recreationally – the vast majority of whom control their usage and do not become addicted just as the vast majority of students who choose to drink alcohol occasionally do not become alcoholics. What you choose to do with your own body should not have you classed alongside criminals.
2. Students get kicked out of their halls every year for smoking Cannabis.
3. There are students who are medical users of Cannabis.
4. There are students of religions and non-denominational spiritual beliefs who use Cannabis as a sacrament. E.g. Ganja (cannabis is revered by Rastafarians).
5. There are countless numbers of students who believe Cannabis should be legalised but are afraid to speak out fearing stigmatisation.
6. Prohibition does not work, causes more crime and social problems than it solves and needs to be stopped.
How do I set up an LCA at my Student Union?
There are a number of ways you can start. First of all find out how your student union recognises new societies.
This usually involves a petition with people signing who agree to the foundation of your society and a form stating the aims and objectives of the group. You will most likely need at least three initial committee members (president, secretary and treasurer).
We would like all new societies to use the aims of the ‘Legalise Cannabis Alliance Student Movement’, although it will not be compulsory for affiliation. Keep your reasons for wanting to set up the society as simple as possible.
It is quite likely you will be asked to go before a panel to explain your reasons for setting up an LCA, if given the opportunity we strongly advise you to do so. You may need to reiterate in the meeting a number of times that whether or not the panel agree with Cannabis legalisation that there are large numbers of students who support the idea and would like to campaign for legalisation.
Have some events in mind too. We are based at Leeds University Union ourselves and are aware of a branch at Westminster University and Keele University being set up so it might be a good idea to mention this before the panel.
Facebook has been a fantastic way of raising awareness of our society.
We also wrote an article for our student paper about whom we are and why we believe what we do. It would also a good idea to write to them if you have your application rejected too as it would reduce your chances of being rejected a second time.
Those most opposed to an LCA starting up might say they do not want the Student Union to support drugs use, we made it very clear from the start including in our student newspaper article that we are not a ‘Stoner Society’.
In fact it is probably better in the long run to take measures to prevent it from becoming a ‘Stoner Society’ in terms of events organised and the nature of campaigns.
But do not forget most Student Unions recognise students will take drugs and will advise them on how to reduce the harm they do to themselves. And remember to mention alcohol is a far more destructive drug!
We have found using the civil libertarian and harm reduction arguments for legalisation to be the most effective in getting people on our side- Cannabis as a plant may happen to be a ‘herb’ but it does not mean its not a drug. Acknowledging this does earn your group respect.
Now that we have an LCA set up- what next?
Recruitment Drives! If you set up an LCA later on in the year after all the Fresher’s fairs, you might struggle to get as many members as you could potentially.
This principle is the same with most Student Union Societies.
We have found LCA Cake Sales to be especially effective for getting people to come and talk to us (none of the cakes contained Cannabis).
Organise socials at committee members’ houses, shisha bars with outdoor smoking areas or even at your local Reggae and Dub night etc.
Organise debates with speakers, get society members writing to your local MP. And once you have enough support organise a Cannabis festival in your town.
Don’t forget to contact you local Head Shops and Grow Stores.
Write pro-legalisation motions for your student union and maybe even submit them to NUS Conference.
The more people the Cannabis Legalisation Movement recruits and speaks to the more likely it is people will support us. And the more likely it is we will one day see Cannabis legalised- bringing about the beginning of the end of the culture where large groups of people are criminalised for participating in activities which harm no one but the individual(s) consenting to the activity.
If you have any questions or suggestions for the campaign please do not hesitate to contact us using any one of the email addresses on the next page.
Hold on! Would it not be better to just campaign for the legalisation of all drugs and remove all the problems caused by prohibition?
It most probably would! However, it is not easy to get many people on board for the idea at the moment.
We tried to do this at our university and had our application rejected, later coming to the conclusion that Cannabis legalisation is an issue people are more willing to support at the moment.
Some of us do hope that over time as it becomes more socially acceptable to openly support Cannabis legalisation more people will consider the social benefits of ending drugs prohibition. However, if you are successful in setting up such a society at your university we would love to hear from you and offer you as much support as we can.