Politicians Years Behind Grass Roots!

Cannabis Reclassified (yet again): Monday 26th January, 2009, and cannabis has just been reclassified by the politicians from a class C, back up to a class B drug. It has taken the British Government many years to work out that perhaps cannabis isn't so bad after all, and reduce its classification to a class C, meaning that you didn't get quite as many lashes for being caught with it. However, now they have decided that perhaps they got it wrong after all and have backtracked. So, what went wrong?

Power Of The Flower: In the 1960's, public awareness of cannabis was at such a point where just about everyone smoked it or had tried it at some point. It was the decade for love, peace and goodwill and smoking cannabis was a catalyst and a fertilizer for the birth and growth of an era that became famous for all of those things and more besides. The power of the flower was upon us and creativity, awareness and good feeling, were etched into our society and epitomised in the pop music of the day. Everyone was simply having a good time! Great! It was a bit of a contrast to some of the other Western World pastimes of that era, such as the Vietnam War. While some were getting their arms and legs blown off and dishing out death and destruction, we were all having a good time, listening to good music and getting on famously! There was minimal alcohol related violence, elderly people could come out of their homes without being intimidated or feeling threatened, and people were more interested in the unifying force than fighting each other! Much of this was to do with our culture of the time of which cannabis played a significant part! Wonderful, wouldn't you think?

Many People Punished: Of course, over the years, due to the fact that cannabis is regarded as an illegal drug, many people have been imprisoned or fined for the various, so called offences, relating to the use, possession, and supply of the drug. As well as the amount of a controlled substance you may get caught with, penalties dished out by the state for so called drug offences have a severity rating which is dependent on the drug's classification. The higher the classification, the higher the penalty. Therefore, if the state is going to insist on persecuting people for such 'crimes', it should be regarded as essential to get the classification of various substances right, so as not to make matters worse. Society has a responsibility to try and do just that. Although such pastimes amongst consenting adults should not be an offence in the first place, in all fairness, the politicians were trying to do just that when they lowered the classification of cannabis to a class C. However, they are unfortunately just a little bit late, a little bit uneducated and very unaware of the facts! I won't say they haven't got a clue, but Sherlock Holmes certainly isn't in the picture.

What Are People Smoking? Throughout the 1980's and 1990's we tended to get a lot of bad hash coming into the UK, in the form of 'soap' bars (so called because of their shape), which had been remixed and repressed by the unethical and the unscrupulous with things like boot polish, henna and ground up seventy-eight records, simply to try and bulk out the product and make more money. This meant that, while in other countries, people were able to enjoy the real quality thing, we, in the UK, were getting some real rubbish - gear that was mixed with all sorts of undesirable substances. In fact a lot of the cannabis probably didn't have any cannabis in it at all and although you paid your money, what you were smoking was anyone's guess. A lot of it was so bad it was simply unsmokable. At times it was very difficult and sometimes impossible for people to get a decent smoke in this country, that is, until the advent of skunk. And there's the rub!

Cannabis, Cannabis, Cannabis... There are many different types and forms of cannabis, and they can all vary in strength immensely. They come from many different parts of the world and some types of cannabis plant are even grown covertly and harvested locally in this country. In the olden days, this form of cannabis was simply known as homegrown, and wasn't particularly potent or even especially nice tasting, that is, when compared to cannabis grown in exactly the same way from warmer climate countries. However, much of it was generally grown in the open, and although some would be cultivated indoors, the lighting and the conditions were fairly crude and the end product reflected that. Consequently, homegrown grass was always a bit of a last resort for people, and was generally regarded by most as a second class option, when compared to quality hash, cannabis resin, and grass from other locations in the world.

People Always Find A Way: Due to the unavailability of good quality cannabis throughout those years and the extremely dubious and unreliable quality of what did arrive over here, people looked for a new approach to obtaining a quality smoke. Traditional homegrown had never really been up to it, however, things were about to change! In all this time people in Europe had been investing in and developing cutting edge techniques in order to produce a new type of genetically strained homegrown cannabis. This new type of cannabis was called skunkweed and its strength was capable of being well in excess of anything we had previously ever known. The concentration of psycho-active ingredients were potentially by far in excess of the usual, run-of-the-mill hash, resin and grass - even nature's finest.

The New Generation: Skunk was the new generation of genetically strained cannabis grown indoors under lights using the most modern and up to date techniques. The plant was now grown using hydroponic nourishment and modern lighting systems that can be electronically switched on and off to simulate the natural daylight and darkness cycle. The plants can even be stimulated to flower ready for harvest by shortening the daylight cycle by a few minutes or so every day, as if approaching autumn. What made skunk so attractive was the fact that it was definitely the real thing. It smelt nice, it tasted nice and it certainly did the business. The other thing that made it so attractive is that anyone could grow it, given a little bit of the right equipment. You could even grow a plant in your airing cupboard if you so desired and it was far far better than anything else available in this country.

The Rub: The thing is, the quite healthy run-of-the-mill hash, resin, and grass, that people had been quite happily smoking since time began is to good quality skunk as perhaps having a few beers is to a bottle of whiskey. Consequently, smoking skunk on a regular basis was also the difference between having a few beers each day and perhaps drinking a bottle of whiskey. Especially if smoked neat! It's not hard to see that that this in itself could yield certain problems. Had the politicians been on the ball, they would have declassified cannabis a long long time ago, when it was relatively harmless and good fun. Instead they chose to persecute people who smoked it. They always think they no better, but when you look around society and the world it's very clear that they don't!

The Lesson: Given that people like to, and choose to, smoke cannabis at times in theirlife (something that society seems to overlook) allowing them access to a reasonable quality resin, hash or grass, would mean they would not be forced to smoke skunk on a day to day basis in order to have a quality product. This may not stop everyone from smoking skunk, but it is true to say that their are some wonderful varieties of cannabis in the world, and we never see them over here. This should be lesson enough to society, but, if we do not heed the warning, an even tougher version of this lesson may hit society in the near future, in the form of Crystal Meth. It has already done so in the United States! We should be warned!

The Lesson (continued): The fact is, people like to do drugs. They may not do it all the time, they may not do it all of their life. However, it is an experience that many people like to experience, at least at some point in their life. Therefore, let people do it because it is what they want to do and you will not stop them from doing it. Yes, you will not stop them from doing it BECAUSE IT IS WHAT THEY WANT TO DO (didn't I just say that?). What you can do, in fact, if you are in least bit concerned, is make sure that the product they get is good quality and the least harmful and damaging on offer, and properly educate people. If people can get something reasonable, they will not have to resort to such alternative, more harmful substances.

We Can Work It Out! However, it is a funny thing, but everybody has a brain of their own and can actually think and deduce things for themselves. Also, if a person is going to over do something, they are quite capable of doing it 'legally', that is with alcohol or tobacco. They, of course, then have to fight any resultant addiction themselves too. But, in fact, most people are sensible, most people can enjoy such things (apart from the likes of tobacco, smack, crack & crystal meth) without getting hooked and incurring a bad and destructive habit. God gave everyone brains, however, he didn't give everyone the facts! That is up to us!

No Distinction - Yet Again! One of the biggest and most obvious problems (and one of my biggest gripes) with the whole drug thing, is that there is no distinction between the various types of drug. This is perhaps because those that use the term 'drugs' so indiscriminately don't really know the difference themselves. However, there is a vast difference between the various effects of the various drugs in the world and this should be acknowledged. Also, and yet again, someone has to say that perhaps, even with cannabis, there is cannabis and there is skunk. The two are not necessarily the same.

Why Not A Pint Of Whiskey? We don't refer to all brands of alcohol as beer, because some of it is not. Even though it is all alcohol, or at least all contains alcohol, the names, type, taste, strength and effect, varies immensely. You might order a pint of beer, but you wouldn't order a pint of whisky or wine. The drinks have different protocols surrounding them because they are all different in design and purpose. Likewise, when you go to the bar to order a drink, you don't just ask for alcohol. You express some distinction and clarity in asking for what it is you want.

We Know The Difference! Of course we do. And it has to be said, if this practice of distinguishing the various forms of alcohol is appropriate and acceptable, and everyone knows what they are, why can't we do it with the various forms of drug. People know the difference between the various forms of alcohol because we're brought up to know. They are socially acceptable and anyone can get hold of them and have a look. So we all know the difference. That means we don't make the mistake of going to the bar and asking for a pint of whisky! It's amazing what a little bit of education and understanding can achieve!

We Don't Know The Difference! Just as with types of alcoholic drink, there is a big difference between the many different forms of cannabis. There is also a big difference between naturally grown cannabis and skunk. Skunk is artificially engineered and genetically strained by man to be as potent as possible, and the THC level, the psychoactive ingredient that gives you the high in all cannabis, is exceptionally high in skunk. Just as with alcohol, the concentration is measured in a percentage. The percentage content of THC in natural cannabis perhaps averages, similar to beer, two to five percent, maybe higher if it's the best of the best. However, just as the difference between beer and spirits, skunk can have a THC content of twenty percent. This high level of THC is achieved at the expense and reduction of another, anti-psychotic, balancing chemical, and some people now think that this manmade imbalance is responsible for some psychological problems that have become prevalent in some young people who smoke skunk on a regular basis.

Acknowledge The Difference! The fact is, whatever way you look at it, skunk is a different kettle of cannabis. Perhaps therefore, the answer for our politicians would be as simple as to classify cannabis as class C and skunk as class B. This would be like differentiating between beer and spirits and I'm sure they're all good at that! Most regular adult cannabis smokers don't smoke skunk all the time, because it's too much. They might smoke it now and again, or last thing in the evening, or not at all. Out of choice, they generally like to smoke good quality hash or resin, however, good quality hash and resin is very hard to come by in this country. Why is that I wonder?

Forced To Backtrack! The effect of skunk, and the fact that so many kids smoke it, has forced the politicians to backtrack. It's like saying to kids, yes you can have a beer, and they've all hit the whisky instead. Perhaps young people shouldn't be smoking cannabis at all, however, just the same as with alcohol, if the teenagers get the chance, they often will. If you are going to let middle teenagers have a drink at all, it tends to be a shandy or a drop of lager or something. You don't generally go plying them with whisky. However, in the cannabis world, you often can't get the shandy or beer equivalent in the U.K., but you can get 'made in England' skunk.

So Many Different Types: Just as with fine wines, the world at large offers an extremely diverse degree of different types of naturally occurring cannabis. Naturally occurring cannabis comes in three different forms... the resin exuded by the leaf (cannabis resin) and rolled into a ball or slab, the pollen from the plant (hash), usually gathered in small cloth sacks and rolled into small slabs, and of course grass, the dried leaves and flower heads. Just as with wines, the many different types of cannabis available are often named after the region or country of origin, such as Afghani, Nepalese, Lebanese, Moroccan, Columbian, etc, and between them all, represent extreme variety and some of nature's finest, both to smell and to smoke. It's definitely that Condor moment, for those that still remember it!

Why Don't People Smoke These Instead? Cannabis, as nature approximately intended, is much safer to smoke on a regular basis than skunk. It is not so potent and it has a psychologically healthier balance of the different psychoactive ingredients. So, why don't we smoke nature's finest instead? It is simply that we can't get it over here, and if we could, people would smoke it, because it is simply class, in taste, bouquet, and effect. It is actually easier in many parts of the UK to get heroin than natural cannabis.

Can b a sin! Cannabis use is not a crime and should not be punishable as such! However, at the moment, our society sees it differently. Any form of over-use or abuse can bring about problems and be regarded as unhealthy. Just as with alcohol, or even pies and cakes, it is not necessarily the fact that people indulge that is wrong, it is the fact that sometimes they over-indulge. This can be easy with skunk because it is simply so potent. If our society had a better understanding of drugs and we managed such controlled substances properly, i.e. they were PROPERLY CONTROLLED, we could largely make sure that this would not happen!

Way Past Time! When it comes to alcohol, there are legal limits and controls over maximum strengths and availabilities. There are also quality controls, and where these are not adhered to, such as in counterfeit, 'under-the-counter' vodka, etc, we see resultant problems surrounding their use. That is why we have controls and protocols in any area where such potential dangers can exist, from adventure sports to learning to drive and even crossing the road. Training, education, learning from our mistakes, building on and imparting that knowledge to those that follow on behind, are all important ingredients to refining and safegarding our existence and quality of life. In other words, getting it right! It is time for society to sort itself out and do the same with cannabis and other such, currently illegal substances.

Best Education and Best Equipment: When anything is done under the counter there is always a chance for the unethical in our society to take advantage and dish out a product void of all restraints, controls and quality checks. By legitimising and regulating substances along side education, as we do in any potentially hazardous areas, we can make sure people have the best. The best education and the best equipment. If we don't offer these two ingredients, we are letting people down.

Individual Choice: The rest will always be up to the individual - and that is how God intended it to be. By interfering with that basic law of nature, the fundamental right to choose and making a hash of it, society is letting people down in a multitude of areas. Even completely innocent people get dragged into the equation through drug related crime. Crime that is completely unnecessary and could in fact be completely eradicated. It should not be easier for people to obtain heroin on the street than to get a bit of decent cannabis, and yet in many places in the UK, that is how it is and has been for a very long time! And when it comes to cannabis, people should be able to get quality hash, resin or natural grass and not just skunk.

Cause For Concern: Parents are rightly worried about the kids smoking cannabis nowadays, and rightly so. There is indeed cause for concern, more so now than ever before. It was recently reported in one TV programme that ther had been a 63% increase in admissions to mental institutions over the last five years as a result of young people smoking skunk.