Soft Drug Turns To Hard Sell 

Soft Drug Turns To Hard Sell 
Posted by FoM on July 08, 2001 at 10:33:20 PT
Source: The Observer 
In a field in southern England 15 tonnes of cannabis is being cultivated in a giant greenhouse with the blessing of the Government. Elsewhere in southern England, in Brixton to be precise, the drug is now smoked openly in the street, even outside the police station. Although the two events are unconnected, they appear to have unleashed a torrent of debate. Politicians from the Right and the Left are queuing up to call for a spectrum of measures, ranging from decriminalisation of the drug to its legalisation and sale at off-licences. 
The outgoing 'Drugs Tsar' Keith Hellawell, who once said that cannabis leads to harder drugs, was first sidelined, and then he performed a U-turn. With an illegal market in the drug worth around £4bn, it's no surprise that business, and perhaps the Inland Revenue, are following the debate. Institutional investors have been impressed with the small Hampshire-based pharmaceutical company that runs the secret growing facility. GW Pharmaceuticals is trying out cannabis-derived medicines. A recent share placement was six times oversubscribed. Justin Gover, GWP's managing director, says: 'Clearly the cannabis link gives us a higher profile. But what matters to us is the data from our clinical trials showing a medical benefit to people suffering from serious diseases.' The provision for this medical research required no change in the law. All that was needed was a Government assurance that the cannabis derivatives produced by GW would be legally rescheduled if the medicines were approved. But the big businesses, such as tobacco manufacturers, with strong interests in the wider debate are keeping rather tight lipped. When asked to comment, Gallaher and Imperial both say cannabis is illegal and a matter for Government policy. British-American Tobacco's Martin Broughton insists it had no plans to sell the drug if it became legal. But there certainly used to be. Three years ago, The Observer revealed that BAT had discussed secretly lacing cigarettes with 'subliminal' levels of marijuana, if it was ever legalised. The ideas were detailed in an internal memo which was forced into the public domain by litigation and cited in a US court case. Cigarette firms anticipating legalisation have already registered brand names with links to marijuana. In 1993 Philip Morris filed a trade-mark application in France for 'Marley'. The firm later denied this link. Other drug-related names registered by companies include Acapulco Gold and Red Leb. The BAT document considered 'the main threats to the smoking habit... and draws attention to the undoubted opportunities which exist in the development of future products'. Even if the drug were legalised, production of a packet of 20 'Marley' cannabis cigarettes is unlikely. 'It's more likely that you'd get spin-off companies, perhaps from the hand-rolling tobacco companies, getting involved,' says Clive Bates of Action on Smoking and Health (Ash). But there is a competitive battle. Bates believes that with products such as Benson & Hedges Mellow, tobacco firms are already toying with branding that would appeal to people who take cannabis. 'Tobacco companies are analysing their position vis-à-vis illegal drugs. They are a competitor for where cigarettes fit in the psyche of young people. They would not want smoking to become the Austin Allegro of drug use.' 'The Government could decriminalise some forms and legalise others. The advantage would be with the pharmaceutical and food companies which can demonstrate its safety,' says Bates. Indeed, with the Government approving cultivation of specific forms of cannabis for medical research, some say that they could then shut the door on any other type of legalisation. Howard Miller, pharmaceuticals analyst at stockbroker Teather and Greenwood, says: 'The larger pharmaceutical companies will be interested, but they will want to let GW make the moves, and dismantle the hurdles.' But perhaps the Government has too much of a vested interest, given the possible tax bonanza. If the cannabis consumed illegally now was produced and taxed in Britain in exactly the same manner as tobacco, some £16bn of excise taxes could be raised for the exchequer. That is enough to pay for 5p off the basic rate of income tax. But this figure is considered unrealistic for a number of reasons. It does not take account of changes in buying behaviour caused by legalisation, nor the split between demand for ready-made cannabis cigarettes and a roll-your-own product, which would likely be taxed less. Nor does it take account of the fact that a thriving black market is likely to remain that way if levying taxes increases the price fourfold. Matthew Atha, of the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit, suggests excise duty of between £2 and £3 a gramme, against a production cost of approximately 50p. With up to 1,500 tonnes consumed in the UK every year, up to £5bn tax could be raised. The nature of the wider illegal drugs economy makes calculations of its total cost difficult. Hellawell has estimated that the cost of law enforcement alone in the UK at £1.4bn a year. The cost of the crime associated with drugs is put at £1.5bn. Mo Mowlam, the former Labour Cabinet Minister, says taxes on legalised drugs could help fund the NHS treatment of addicts. Peter Lilley, the Conservatives' former deputy leader, argues that the experience of the Netherlands suggests treatment costs would be unlikely to rise. 'The Dutch have legal outlets and consume less than we do,' he says. Perhaps more controversially, such a move could help with the Chancellor Gordon Brown's efforts to infuse a culture of entrepreneurship and risk-taking in urban areas requiring regeneration. This is the view of the New Economics Foundation's Ed Mayo: 'By pathologising drug taking, successive governments have ended up with the worst of all worlds. 'On the one hand, they have created a highly entrepreneurial risk-taking web of supply and demand, which filters drugs through to every street, every estate and every tenement in the land. On the other, they have thrown the problem of dealing with the devastating neighbourhood impacts of drugs on stretched statutory and non-profit services, that instead of being able to build literacy, awareness and restraint are left picking up the pieces.' Indeed, the Dutch experience suggests that decriminalisation leads to the emergence of cooperatives and small-scale businesses in areas that do not attract much investment. Lilley's suggestion that there should be special 'cannabis off-licences' offers one example. 'Every pound spent by users for drugs on the street incurs many times that cost for society in health and policing. Rather than simply offset that onto wider taxpayers, is there not a case for decriminalising soft drugs and levying a tax so that the consumer pays, legitimate enterprises can emerge, and the services dealing issues that underpin substance abuse, such as poverty and self esteem, be fully funded?' says Mayo. Cannabis legalisation as an agent of urban regeneration? The Chancellor won't be designing that new tax credit just yet. 'There is so much evidence that cannabis works in a medicinal sense'Medicines developed by GW Pharmaceuticals' are exclusively derived from specially-prepared cannabis plants. Every stage of the development process is licensed by the Home Office. Development and cultivation is at a secure greenhouse - cameras are pointed at every plant. GW's leading treatment, a drug for multiple sclerosis sufferers, is already undergoing clinical tests. It is scheduled for release at the beginning of 2004, followed by treatments for cancer pain and rheumatoid arthritis. Longer-term plans include treatments for epilepsy. Once one of GW's medicines is approved it throws open the possibility for doctors to prescribe it for other conditions too. 'Official statistics show that 4% of MS sufferers smoke cannabis. There's so much evidence that cannabis works in a medicinal sense. But there are a lot of people who don't want to break the law,' said managing director Justin Gover. GW raised £25m with its recent institutional placement, which will fund expansion plans. Its market capitalisation is now £155m. The share price fell on Friday following a report in the British Medical Journal which questioned the therapeutic value of cannabis. 'We are a research and development company. We have no pretensions to be a Glaxo. We would expect to get into licensing arrangements with major pharmaceutical companies in each of these countries - which is the standard model.'Note: Big business and the Treasury could cash in if cannabis were legalised in Britain, reports Faisal Islam. Source: Observer, The (UK)Published: Sunday July 8, 2001Copyright: 2001 The ObserverContact: letters Articles:Introduction To Cannabis-Based Medicines End Cannabis Seizures Articles - UK 
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on July 09, 2001 at 22:25:57 PT
Thank You, New Mexican
Hi New Mexican,I've been reading the different comments on the articles tonight and it made me happy. I too am proud of this Cannabis family. I'm tired and sick with a cold but tonight your comment made my day. I think I'll go off line after I look one more time for any late news but I think it's done until morning. This web site, which is the people who comment, are good people. People who mean well and care. I feel honored to be a part of such a group. I learn everyday more things I never knew before. As long as we have our minds open to learn we will always be young even if it is only young at heart. 
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Comment #15 posted by New Mexican on July 09, 2001 at 22:13:33 PT
I love this Cannabis Family!
Just had to say how much humor, sanity and good naturedness I find here and I guess FOM is what makes it all sooooooooo good! Thank everyone for lettin me b my self again, and for everybody just being. I can't wait to see the movie "Cannabis Paradise", The script has been written here so lets' start production!
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Comment #14 posted by dddd on July 09, 2001 at 06:44:50 PT
Sorry Kap
That was kinda mean,,,if it makes you feelany better,,,,,,those who point out flaws inothers,usually do it to escape,and detractfrom their own
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Comment #13 posted by kaptinemo on July 09, 2001 at 06:15:20 PT:
Hey, cut me some slack, 4D  :)
I'm useless without my daily ration of phosphoric acid and caffeine (alias Pepsi) in the morning. Just getting mine now. All God's chillun' gotta have their alkaloids...
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Comment #12 posted by dddd on July 09, 2001 at 06:07:10 PT
I agree too
with Kaps altest post,,,the aerlier ones too...........LoL............dddd
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Comment #11 posted by kaptinemo on July 09, 2001 at 05:36:08 PT:
I am in agreement with the aerlier posters
In the past two decades we've seen enormous concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few. Here in the States, that has led to a huge gulf in salaries between, say, a factory worker (which I was) and a member of the 'new' Information Age-directed industries (me again). As the old saying goes, The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. But now there's an added dimension: the vanishing middle class. There's more people joining the ranks of the 'poorer' than ever before. All, supposedly, in the middle of the greatest, longest lasting, world-wide 'boom' economy ever known.The 'new' hemp industries could turn all that around. And the people at the top of the economic pyramid know that. Just the energy ramifications alone are staggeringly threatening to present petrochemical interests. Hell, you can even make plastics from hemp oil, not just fuel. Considering how much of a modern auto is made of plastics, already, major industries that don't jump on the hemp bandwagon right now will see their corporations go the way of buggy-whip manufacturers.But the idiots will try to retard hemp development...until they can acquire a monopoly on it, of course.
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Comment #10 posted by dddd on July 09, 2001 at 02:46:22 PT
Absolutely outstanding!!dddd
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Comment #9 posted by CongressmanSuet on July 09, 2001 at 02:37:21 PT
   I awake at 7, in my "Guest Flat"[that means guest apartment.hehe] to the sounds of comforting Reggae" coming from my clock radio, and wonder what inginuity went into making most of it out of Hemp Plastic. I meander to the bathroom and get ready for my big day. The HempSeed shampoo is excellent as usual, and the "Cannagate Toothpaste" while abit gritty, nonetheless does an excellent job, and costs less too. Im not thrilled with the Hemp toilet paper, but hey, its no worse than what they used to have at the Port Athourity Men's room, and Im sure they will figure out a way to improve it, I mean, look at the clock? My Hemp oil propelled Taxi is about 10 minutes away, so I have time for a quick Cannabis Granola breakfast[with nutritious Kif oil fermented with honey]. Im ready for work. We head down the streets, I spend most of my time marvelling at how tranquil and freindly the people seem to be. Look, theres a Constable joking and bantering with a bunch of young kids. A good time is had by all. We arive at my destination. Its my first day and Im anxious. I mean, being the new diplomatic liasion for the Ministry Of Cannabis from Canada to Britain, well, its an incredibly important job, and Im kinda nervous...        
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Comment #8 posted by dddd on July 08, 2001 at 23:31:36 PT
Club Sativa
The Club Sativa are nice,but they are owned by RJ Reynolds,,,,and of course the Acapolco Gold,and Panama Red brandnames were copyrighted by Phillip Morris back in the latesixties,,and the ZigZags are Brown and Williamson,so I prefer to buy from the Micro-Growers.Jamaican Breezemakes a nice line of spleefs,,,their "Rasta Gold" spleefs are quite nice..or the rich flavor of Hawaiian Primo is also one of my favorites.dddd
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Comment #7 posted by lookinside on July 08, 2001 at 22:46:49 PT:
i prefer the club sativa's with the fine wooden easy flowtips...
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Comment #6 posted by lookinside on July 08, 2001 at 22:41:49 PT:
book the tickets...i wanna go too...
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Comment #5 posted by dddd on July 08, 2001 at 22:27:18 PT
....Flew into Heathrow,,,it was about 2:00 P.M. London time.Got on the Tube,and exited the train at Piccadilly Circus...Headedstraight to the nearest Chemist,(British for pharmacy),,and askthe chap for a pack of Zig-Zags,,,he asked,,,"would you like theSativa,or Indica?",,,Indica I replied.....I stepped outside and litup one of the fresh smokes from the pack,,,the wonderful,robustsmell of fine Indica wafted thru the air.....I smiled as I walked onthru the wonderful streets of London.......dddd
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Comment #4 posted by Imprint on July 08, 2001 at 20:17:54 PT
This is a good thing
If it happens this is all good. Tobacco fields and marginal crop fields would be use to grow marijuana. This would infuse many industries; trucking, agriculture, retail; the list would be long. Pipe sales would go up and high tech vaporizer pipes would become common place. Secondary industries would spring up. Ya don’t smoke the stocks of these plants so these stocks would be used to make textiles, oils and such. I also think that if this happens there would be a sub-culture of marijuana smokers that would only smoke homegrown weed. My guess would be that the long time smokers that have been part of the underground culture would fuel this portion of the industry.  I would fit into this category. There is a certain way to grow, dry and roll your own pot and of course share with your friends (ya know; “get high with a little help from your friends”). My generation would remember what it was like before the time of legalization and we would want to honor and remember the sacrifices made to get this far. And this is the best part, less money to be used in law enforcement. The “Swat-Want-A-Be’s would be out of a job. Other than security guard at the local junkyard there just isn’t much need for these guys. These jerks can pick our weed, process it and package it for society to smoke. That would be so sweet. 
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Comment #3 posted by Mad Scientist on July 08, 2001 at 15:44:37 PT:
The need to keep out big business
I couldn't agree more. In my opinion one of the worst things would be if we converted from a distribution model in which the cannabis trade is totally unlicensed and unregulated, to a fully legalised corporate controlled model in which cannabis can be quite legally adulterated. The addition of chemicals designed to increase addictiveness and therefore encourage repeat custom would be appaling. But it has happened in the US with tobacco - there are around 500 chemicals which can be legally added in the production process. In my opinion, the Dutch model of decriminalisation and regulated distribution provides a good goal to work towards. Because cannabis is technically still illegal, the big businesses are kept out, and because the decision to grant coffeeshop licenses in an area is taken after extensive consultation with the police and city officials, the welfare of the community, in terms of employment created and the effect on the citizens, would be the paramount concern. As chillumsmoker pointed out, if the cannabis outlets can be supply directly by home or small-scale commercial growing, the economic effect of the new employment created would be significant. There would also be no need for the outlets to rely open the black market, in fact there would be a strong incentive against it, because the sale of dubious black market "soap bar" could damage the reputation of coffeeshops and drive customers to its competitors, so they would need to obtain it only from growers with personally assessed quality.Therefore, in some respects I feel that the grey economy, with decrimin and regulated sales would be a better approach than full legalisation. If full legalisation occurred, the small growers would soon be priced out of the market because they couldn't compete with the economies of scale. On the other hand, decrim turns the law into an absurdity, and there is no protection against a future, more right-wing government forcing the police to enforce the law more fully, and reversing all the progress that has been made, so it's a matter for further debate. Some approach to allow the cannabis user legal protection while maximising the benefit to communities of the trade is definitely required.
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Comment #2 posted by Doug on July 08, 2001 at 11:14:40 PT
Just say No to Big Business
Rumors have been circulating since the Sixties about tobacco companies patenting names for marijuna products, and this article gives credence to those rumors. I'd hate to see the tobocco companies -- or any big business -- controlling the marijuana trade once it is legalized. Currently, the marijuan trade has provided jobs and livelihood for many people in rural, and not so rural, communites. I'd hate to see this all go away. Some way of keeping marijuana growing controlled by the "Mom and Pop" level would be much better for the communities, in so many ways, than allowing it to be just one more income source for a conglomerate that is already overburdened with money.
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Comment #1 posted by chillumsmoker on July 08, 2001 at 11:05:31 PT:
Cannabis - Opportunities for Creating Employment 
Imagine London with licensed cannabis/coffee shops based on the system in use in Holland. Is this so ridiculous ?Amsterdam has over 350 licensed premises, based on that, how many would London have ? Probably nearer to a thousand.Each shop would provide a business for a few people and each shop would need to have a number of cultivators to provide the smoking material. Each shop could in theory keep 5 - 10 people in full time employment.Many unemployed would happily go into the cannabis business and this would provide the means to make tax paying citizens out of many, who at the present time, are being kept by the government.A new business enterprise scheme could be started for all those who wish to cultivate it in order to supply the licensed outlets. This would result in similar schemes in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds etc, etc ! If such a scheme could result in 5 - 10,000 job opportunites in London, think what it can do for the country, especially, deprived, inner city areas !In short, it could provide the economic boost that everyone is looking for. It would provide an industry for many people who would otherwise end up in menial, low paid jobs, or even worse for the country, still claiming benefit in 5 years time.Not only is this an opportunity for thousands of individuals, the government will no doubt tax it all in some way and therefore everyone would be better off. With such a thriving cannabis culture, socio-economic conditions would improve and as a result, less crime and less hard drugs ! It makes sense . . . . . . 
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