Home Affairs Committee - Drugs: Breaking the CycleWritten evidence submitted by Ben Swift (DP041)

I am a 31-year-old plumber from Norfolk and a member of the Clear political party. I have been a regular user of cannabis for 15 years. I find this is the most successful way to deal with the depression I suffer from.

For 15 years I have not been able to access a regular supply of medical grade cannabis to alleviate my condition and sometimes, more often than not, are sold what is meant to be cannabis but obviously isn’t. I don’t know what it is because it is not regulated and therefore cannot get a refund or complain to trading standards as the herb is illegal? I will continue to try to buy cannabis from the underground market until it is regulated as I have no choice—who knows what damage this is doing to me—consuming an unregulated product trying to obtain relatively safe cannabis.

Until regulation in the law’s eyes I will remain a criminal for consuming a medicine, which upsets me as in all other aspects of society I am a law abiding citizen who works hard.

I am not alone and during my small time in this world I have met many people who are on the whole law abiding people except in this area because the unjust law turns drug addicts into criminals unnecessarily which makes the problem for them and society worse.

I support Clear’s aims and objectives:

1. To end the prohibition of cannabis

Prohibition is a big, dumb, and very expensive failure. It is brutal. It puts prejudice before people. The “war on drugs” is responsible for more death, destruction and despair than any other war. History has shown that prohibition creates far more problems than it solves. In the 21st century we should expect far better solutions from our policy makers and governments.

2. To promote as a matter of urgency and compassion the prescription of medicinal cannabis by doctors

No reasonable human being can deny another relief from pain, suffering or disability. There is no rational argument against permitting access to medicinal cannabis for those who need it. The fact that the British government and the deeply rooted bureaucracy of the Home Office stand in the way is a deep and lasting shame on our nation.

3. To introduce a system of regulation for the production and supply of cannabis based on facts and evidence

Authoritative research from the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit proves that a cannabis tax and regulate regime in Britain would produce a boost to the UK economy of at least £6 billion per annum. That’s based on a cannabis tax of £1 per gram, massive savings in law enforcement costs but allowing for the cost of administering the system and providing additional healthcare and education services. All the evidence and experts agree that a responsibly regulated system would also reduce all health and social harms.

4. To encourage the production and use of industrial hemp

The prohibition of cannabis has caused huge damage to our society, environment and economy by preventing the cultivation of hemp. Although the industrial strains of the plant have no psychoactive potential, the absurd level of control has effectively destroyed its value as an agricultural crop. With that we have lost the most efficient producer of biomass in the natural world, the strongest natural fibre, a better fabric than cotton, a better paper than wood and one of the most ecologically important activities on the planet.

5. To educate and inform about the uses and benefits of cannabis

Prejudice is based on ignorance. In the case of cannabis there is also deliberate misinformation. It started with Randolph Hearst, the media, timber and oil magnate of the 1930s and it continues today with the vested interests of alcohol, tobacco, Big Pharma and, yes, media, timber and oil. The truth about cannabis is clear and we have to spread the truth in the face of ignorance and lies.

January 2012

Prepared 8th December 2012