According to a new report from the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board, the United Kingdom is the world’s largest producer and exporter of legal cannabis for medical and scientific use.
The U.K. is responsible for about 45% of the world’s legal production of cannabis and about 67% of total world exports of cannabis, yet cannabis possession for any reason remains prohibited in the kingdom.
“It is scandalous and untenable for the UK government to maintain that cannabis has no medical uses, at the same time as licensing the world’s biggest government-approved medical cannabis production and export market,” said Steve Rolles from the drug policy group Transform.
“UK patients are either denied access and suffering unnecessarily, or are forced to buy cannabis from the criminal market.”
A large portion of the marijuana grown in the U.K. is used in the production of the GW Pharmaceuticals medicine known as Sativex, which comes in spray form and is authorized in 21 European countries as well as several countries outside the Euro market, including Australia and Canada. It is approved and used mostly for those suffering from muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.
And while all of this is going on, parents of children in the U.K. must beg for special permission to be able to use cannabis extracts to alleviate the terrible suffering their children endure from various ailments.
Of course, looking for common sense in the actions of governments – no matter where they are in the world – has always been a futile effort. Those in charge of policy often have different incentives from those who are affected by those policies. This is why it’s imperative for activists to continue to fight for the latter group.
It’s easy to lose sight of just how screwed up the priorities of many politicians and officials are because we are so used to it. Many throw up their hands in the face of contradictory and harmful policies and say, “Well, that’s just the way things are.”
This is true, but it’s not the way things have to stay. History is a constant story of change, setbacks and progress. Fortunately, we live in a time of amazing technological advancements that allow the sharing of information in ways that did not exist even a decade ago. Decentralization of information-sharing has broken the monopoly the “elite” have had on knowledge ever since humans came to understand what knowledge was.
And in the case of marijuana law reform all over the world, this new advantage is being put to effective use.