I started a Government petition to ban alcohol

Why I Started a Government Petition to Ban Alcohol (and then had a beer to celebrate it going live)

By Chris Shaw

August the 26th and I awaken to find an e-mail sitting in my inbox from the Government. At first I was a little worried. I try and stay out of the Government’s way as much as possible, but I read on and realised they finally responded to the “Make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal” petition that I signed weeks ago and, to be honest, I was very, very annoyed.

Downing Street response to cannabis petition.

Official Government response to over 200,000 UK residents calling for cannabis to be legalised.

I understand the Government’s response. Getting drug policy right in this country won’t get you votes from middle England, where the Tories and Labour have been fighting it out since the 90’s. If anything the Government’s response will help them with that base. Even though a 2013 Ipsos MORI poll suggests that 53% of the UK population support either legalisation or decriminalization of cannabis, we still have a lot of anti-cannabis hysteria in 21st century Britain, mainly thanks to right-wing news organizations and a lack of public figures that call for more liberal laws on drugs.

Another reason is because of big money interests. Do you think big pharmaceutical companies would be happy with a freely available medicine for many ailments to become free to use for anyone? And big booze companies that own the intoxicant market? No they would be livid. It’s not like politicians don’t know what the right thing to do when it comes to drugs laws. David Cameron, as a member of the home affairs select committee on drug misuse, said back in 2002 ‘I ask the Labour Government not to return to retribution and war on drugs, that has been tried and we all know that it does not work.’

Another reason why I understood the response (and let’s keep it real here guys) is that cannabis is a mind altering intoxicate, which can cause adverse effects and health issues in some people. Every substance has different effects on different people, but that’s all a reason for legalization; and none of the health or social issues associated with cannabis are as bad than the ones associated with alcohol.

So when I read the response to the cannabis petition I had a little think … all of their talking points where the same ones they used in America in the 1920’s to push through probation of alcohol. So what if you were replace the word cannabis and swapped it with alcohol? Would it still make sense? I did it and, guess what, it made perfect sense! So I then decided that I would take this straight to the Government in form of a petition to ban alcohol and make it a Class A drug

Highlighting Government hypocrisy over cannabis and alcohol.

Please sign and see what the Government has to say – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106811

Now hardly anybody reading this is likely to believe banning alcohol would be a good idea, most of all me. It would bring violence and organised crime to our streets. People would flaunt the laws and start making dodgy batches of booze in their baths with anti-freeze and other such dangerous additives, which people would happily put up with just to get their fix and children will be freely available to start buying alcohol due to fact that no one will care about an ID. Do any of these talking points seem familiar to you?

The point of this petition is not to get alcohol banned for the same reasons we say cannabis shouldn’t be banned. It’s to point out government hypocrisy. The same hypocrisy we’ve been putting up with for years. If the government is happy to say drink responsibly, then why can’t we smoke responsibly?

So please sign my petition. We only need 10,000 signatures to get a response from the Government and that’s all we need to show people they do not really care about our health, but rather their interests and with this petition we can point this out to the wider public and help our cause.

In case you missed it, you can sign online here – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106811remember this is about highlighting Government hypocrisy over cannabis laws, not seriously proposing the introduction of alcohol prohibition in the UK and to see what they say in view of their response to the cannabis petition.

The levers of democracy – cannabis activism in the UK

th (1)Since the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) sat down with the Home Secretary to have cannabis downgraded to a Class C drug in 2004, the movement has struggled with what to do in making a change. There has been factionalism and no clear leadership (no matter what certain groups believe). Those who choose the liberal, non egocentric approach are working on a variety of different fronts to achieve the same aim – liberalisation of cannabis laws. Over this blog we will examine the various ways of harnessing what some term “democracy” in Britain.

Politicians in the UK are supposed to lead but they in fact follow. Most of them, even in the cannabis movement, are empty husks with no firm idea of what they want except to be on TV or radio where possible. Those in the major parties take their ideas from the newspapers – their leaders augment that with opinion polls which is an expensive way of asking “what do people think after reading the newspaper?” 

Sativa cannabis

The fact is there is so much bias the citizens of the UK are deluded rather than informed. Politicians talk so much rubbish and are frequently so incoherent you wonder what was actually in their teacakes when they sat down to elevenses in the Commons café…

Being confused and morally empty, they are vulnerable too – as any nutcase is on a psychiatric ward. Since they are vulnerable, this leaves them open to influence. One wonders who Theresa May hangs out with when she blatantly banned the legal sale of Qat and handed its supply to drug dealers?

Where one cannot be certain that May spends her summer holidays in a Colombian mansion, if she did this would show how lobbying and activism can work. If we look at something that has certainly happened – the government going soft on alcohol policy. The science is clear that price is linked to alcohol abuse. The NHS could save £1billion a year by pricing people vulnerable to alcoholism off the cheap booze. However, booze suppliers would lose several £ billions in income from fewer people becoming alcoholics.  They lobbied the government with lots of free booze and false science to show that being pissed eases plebs’ lives when their benefits are cut. The government backed away from minimum pricing.

You’re reading this, asking how in hell you would get half the Cabinet stoned on teacakes and to convince them plebs can feel better when stoned about their benefits being cut by Atos? The cannabis movement has to start at the grassroots. On the 20th July UK Uncut have turned a number of HSBC bank branches into food banks. Groups of them went into the branches and offered customers interest free cat food and baked beans to highlight the tax practices of the bank in question.

UK Uncut have seized the global political agenda by doing something similar. In 2010 they went into over 50 Vodafone shops and prevented them from trading. Until that day tax avoidance was a nonentity on the UK news agenda. Since then the G20 has announced a system to shut tax loopholes and one day, may succeed in making major multinationals pay what they owe in host countries. Not bad for a bunch of smelly students sitting in a mobile phone shop!

Stunts in short, work. I argued above that most government policy comes from politicians reading newspapers. If you give newspapers something to write about? Politicians read about you. There are a number of events that have happened – 10 000 cannabis activists in Hyde Park earlier this year, and an upcoming cannabis picnic in Reading. Even the Daily Mail wrote about the Hyde Park event.

Lobbying doesn’t have to be civil disobedience or protest. Some of the most exciting legal changes are coming in law courts. The Courts have almost the same amount of power as Parliament. The Cannabis campaign NORML wrote about Michelle X who hopes the Courts will give her an unconditional discharge for her medical cannabis use. If they do? There will be a de facto medical cannabis law in the UK. As is, she told me that the police didn’t want to raid her home and only did when some lowlife made allegations that kids were in her home and she was dealing.

The police don’t want to bust stoners as it is a waste of time and resources. Tom Lloyd, speaking to the NORML AGM, referred to his former colleagues thinking of cannabis busts as “cleaning sewers” – no matter what you do, more sewage will come through. This opens the door to direct lobbying at a low level. NORML wrote to most of the police commissioner candidates in the UK to get their opinions on cannabis use. Their survey gave an idea of who thought it a low priority and who was a Daily Heil reading monster. The next phase should have been for local NORML volunteers to sit with those identified as waiverers – people who might be bent toward a soft touch on cannabis – and those who are already taking the view that cannabis is a low priority.

In sitting with them and forming a relationship, so you have started low level lobbying. Police Commissioners are all politicians. To be a politician? You have to be an empty husk who likes to be on TV. Making a popular decision will get TV time!

Low level, regional work may well be the way forward. The US has a lot more democracy than we do and at a local level have won many a battle. We all know about the warfare between the Feds and states in the US don’t we? Why not use the local levers of power in the UK?