In the Monty Python skit that British politics has become, politicians are calling for a reclassification of cannabis as a highly addictive drug
It is hard to look at the UK right now, on anything, frankly, without shouting “There is a dead parrot in the room.” Perhaps this is what happens to governments that take office near the death of a major monarch. Regardless, the shambles that appears to be British political positioning, post-Brexit and post-Boris, has appeared, so far at least, to be most acute on two fronts.
When you rule out economics, the other one is cannabis.
Charge of The Light Brigade
The newly appointed Home Secretary of the UK, Suella Braverman, the practicing Buddhist child of two immigrants, is now “considering” reclassifying cannabis as a Class A drug. While this would do little on a practical level for those unfortunate enough to get busted for possession, what it would do is increase the maximum penalty for illegal supply and trade from 14 years to life.
If this stance sounds like a familiar echo in recent days, that is because it is. Braverman has told “allies” that she is on the “same side” as a group of conservative police and crime commissioners who have recently called for cannabis to be put on a legal par with cocaine.
A Cultural Signal? Is Cannabis Reform an Inevitable Zeitgeist of Our Times?
The Oxbridge-educated Braverman believes that cannabis should be dramatically recriminalized in a world where post-Brexit Britain is increasingly out of step with trends – from working in multilateral teams of equals to drug policy. But it is not just international movements on the international front. Indeed, the question remains in a Britain where medical cannabis and CBD are both now legal, how on earth would such a policy even be enforced? Not to mention what would it do to say, patients?
Such concerns are of little importance to Braverman, who, like her fellow cabinet members in the new Liz Truss-led government such as finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng appears to be set on charting a course into the “Brave New World” even if it is out of step with current events (or indeed must be rolled back).
What is clear is that no hair-brained, doomed-to-fail initiative seems to be off the table right now in Britain. Cannabis reform is just one more issue in the mix.
Where Does This Leave the UK on Cannabis?
With even Joe Biden agreeing to pardon federal cannabis crimes, and many countries in Europe if not the rest of the world on the verge of recreational reform, the move seems as oddly disjointed from modernity as the entire disconnected, Brexited UK at the moment.
In terms of international impact, this is likely to be an insignificant blip. Even Asian countries are now considering reform.
Furthermore, such a policy is not likely to take effect in a country where the CBD industry has just been made legal, private patients if not those on just the NHS can get prescriptions for flower and extracts, and the Mayor of London is proceeding with a decriminalization trial for the city. Not to mention in a nation that for most of this century has been the top exporting cannabis superpower on the planet.
The reality is, no matter the specifics of the British conundrum, that cannabis has now become, inevitably, a touchstone of political positioning on a global basis. Despite the irritation (at least) of having to listen to such tone-deaf, if not scientifically ignorant screeds emanating from a country rapidly fading from global significance, it is a positive sign in a way.
The British are driving, as usual, on the wrong side of the road (if not headed in the wrong direction generally), and sooner or later this one is going to end up in a bloody pileup on a policy highway to nowhere soon.
In the meantime, we have to suffer the fools.