Sky Views: The cannabis ban is having its last gasp
Peter Tosh never had any doubt about the medical value of marijuana.
On Legalize It, the founder member of The Wailers listed the therapeutic benefits, as he saw them.
“It’s good for the flu
Good for asthma
Good for tuberculosis
Even numara thrombosis.”
Tosh’s medical credentials were less convincing than his musical pedigree, and his claims are not entirely backed by evidence. (In “Numara thrombosis” he even seems to have identified a previously unknown condition to which there is no reference beyond his lyrics.)
But more than 40 years after his anthem to decriminalising cannabis was released, the UK government and clinical establishment has finally caught up.
Last week, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said cannabis-based medicines would be made available on prescription in the NHS.
This was a cultural as well as a medical landmark, for all Mr Javid’s protests that the liberalisation of policy would stop there.
A Conservative home secretary could hardly say otherwise, and he may even mean it, but trends around the world suggests legalisation, or at least decriminalisation of recreational use, will eventually follow.
The wind is blowing only one way, and it has a sickly-sweet scent.
Almost every state that has authorised personal use has done so having established a legal medical regime first, and legalisation in the UK has support from previously unimaginable quarters.
Lord Hague, a former leader of Javid’s party, used his column in the large ‘C’ conservative Daily Telegraph to call for legalisation, declaring the war on this drug lost.
Industry and the City smelt it coming years ago, and are preparing to reap the benefits of an emerging legal medical market that will get much, much bigger if recreational use follows.
Britain is already the world’s largest producer of legal cannabis, with British Sugar operating the UK’s largest farm in Norfolk, producing crops for a forthcoming epilepsy treatment.
In a priceless case of conflict of interests, drugs minister Victoria Atkins has been forced to recuse herself from discussion of cannabis, the most pressing and public drugs issue of the day, because she is married to the managing director.
British pharmaceutical companies are also at the forefront of research. GW Pharmaceuticals was founded here but is now developing treatments for the US market and is listed on Wall Street.
An investment vehicle focused solely on funding medical cannabis has floated in London, and the Cannabis Europa conference earlier this month drew hundreds of potential investors to hear about potential opportunities.
The prospect of The Man moving so comprehensively into weed may prompt a shudder from those who grew up with Peter Tosh posters on their bedroom walls and a spare packet of Rizla papers in their sock draw.
But they might ask who they would rather control a market that currently leaves many adolescents scarred by super-strength strains; public companies with an obligation to comply with regulation, or a criminal black market?
As the logic and demand for legalisation becomes irresistible the choice will be made for them.
Cannabis’s journey from counter culture to over-the-counter is almost complete.