Written by Dan Collins for The Leither magazine
Have you ever broken the law? I bet you have. In fact I’d wager that most people have done something that would have gotten them in trouble had they been caught.
Now obviously there are levels of crime; there are worlds between a rampant, unapologetic serial murderer and the absent minded driver who accelerates above 20mph. All vice is vice, but not all vice is equal.
Similarly, we can categorise crime based on the intention of the perpetrator, as seen in the contrast between the man imprisoned for stealing a loaf to feed his family, versus a young rogue shoplifting a four-pack of empire biscuits to share among like-minded villains.
As regular readers of this column will be aware, I am an advocate for cannabis. I believe that the cannabis plant and its products have been much maligned by decades of misinformation and propaganda. I could wax lyrical about the injustice committed against humanity by the prohibition of this particular herb. Where most laws are written to protect people, the drug laws upheld by the UK Home Office cause more harm than they prevent, especially with regards to the largely benevolent cannabis plant.
I do not merely argue for the legalisation of cannabis. I don’t just want to reverse decades of prejudice, deceit and willful ignorance as displayed by consecutive governments in their attempts to suppress nature. Today I want to focus on a very strange state of affairs in the law regarding how we sell CBD products.
In case you don’t know, CBD is one of the compounds that makes cannabis work. It won’t get you high, but it’s legal and there is a long list of reasons why you should take it. There are of course rules regarding what CBD products can be sold, but there are even more rules about what cannot be said to sell them. CBD businesses have to be very careful not to make “medical claims”. It makes sense; I am not a doctor, and these are not medicines. So when an elderly woman asks if a CBD oil will help her arthritis, am I suppose to say I don’t know? If a young man tells me his CBD vape has helped with his anxiety, am I to smile and nod and politely change the subject?
The rules are clear; I must bite my tongue! “No Medical Claims”.
But is it ethical to avoid these topics? How does silence serve us? I have worked with thousands of customers in my little shop on Great Junction Street, and without exception every single one of them has approached this food supplement with a view to using it as a medicine.
“Do you have CBD for pain relief?”
“Can I use CBD to manage stress?”
“I can’t sleep, will CBD help?”
By law I cannot answer yes or no, but instead I might direct you to learn about your endocannabinoid system; it is the part of your body that uses the chemicals found in cannabis, and its job is to keep your health in balance. I am obsessed with the endocannabinoid system, in fact I have mentioned it at least once in every single one of my Leither columns. If you want to understand how cannabis, CBD and THC work, you need to get your head around the fact that they are tools used by neurological hardware that you have had since before you were born.
Normally a spiel about this physiological system tells people what they need to know about CBD, but not everybody is great at reading between the lines. All I can do is my best to ensure that everyone leaves more informed than when they entered.
My tied tongue is proof that our society’s approach to cannabis is unfit for purpose. If you come into my shop, it is technically illegal for me to tell you how these products might benefit your health. I can offer you serving suggestions, but I am not allowed to make reference to any of the thousands of individuals that I have served, let alone share any of their success stories. It is neither my lack of expertise nor the lack of evidence that restricts my language; I am not allowed to tell you what I know about cannabis because it’s true.
I don’t disagree entirely with the rules, I think there’s room for compromise but I insist that we hurry. There are a lot of sick, sad and sore people out there who don’t have time to sit around and wait for the tide to turn. Life is short but cannabis grows quickly.
So in my closing paragraphs I’m going to be very naughty. Prepare yourself dear reader because I am about to commit the cardinal sin of my profession. I am going to break the law and quite boldly. I will leave it to you to decide who is at fault; the law or I.
All cannabis is medicine; whether you understand it or not. All over the world CBD and THC are prescribed by clinicians to patients who agree that cannabis provides them with effective symptom relief and a better quality of life. Cannabis is a big family, and every variety of the plant has hundreds of moving parts that predicate outcomes for individuals based on a combination of genetics and luck. The UK is lagging behind in medical cannabis provision because of government corruption and corporate obfuscation. There are billions of pounds of legal weed money in our economy already, yet our children, our elders and our vulnerable still suffer for the lack of a plant.
I am no salesman. My job is not to fill your head with promises of eternal youth and vitality, but to offer you meaningful choices and clarity in a busy marketplace. My business is a social enterprise; it exists to give you the support you need to get the most from your purchase. Use it right and cannabis can save lives.
I see it everyday, but I’d never tell.