Green plan to make Brighton a model for legal cannabis

Posted On 25 Feb 2015 at 2:21 pm

The Brighton and Hove Green party is drawing up plans to licence cannabis in Brighton which, it believes, could plug the city’s budget gap.

legalise cannabisSteve Peake, the local party’s convenor for the working group on drugs policy, believes a scheme where the council raised a licensing levy on regulated sales of cannabis could generate millions of pounds.

And while he concedes it’s unlikely the Green party will be in a position to implement the policy following May’s elections, he says it’s a matter of when, not if, cannabis is legalised in the UK.

He said: “I’ve been working in drugs policy for the best part of a decade, and in club and festival management where a lot of people are using substances to broaden their own minds.

The Spearhead

“It’s inevitable that prohibition in its current form is going to go. The appropriate question is what model should we use to minimise harm and maximise benefit?

“It’s better to have a civil service regulated supply than put it in the hands of a biker gang.”

Under Steve’s model, the council would licence official suppliers of cannabis and they would be taxed a proportion of all proceeds each year.

Suppliers would have to be not for profit organisations, with any surplus income after salaries and the council levy redistributed to appropriate charities.

The group is also considering whether to restrict the sale to city residents, but Mr Peake believes this could mean the city loses out on tourism benefits, saying the most compelling reason for such a restriction would be encouraging people to use unsustainable forms of transport.

While the policy is backed locally, and enthusiastically by the Green’s Kemptown parliamentary candidate Davy Jones, it would be at least 18 months before it could become national Green policy.

But Mr Peake is adamant that harnessing the economic benefits of cannabis for the city is imperative.

He said: “The economic argument is compelling, particularly in these times when we are so short of public finance and we don’t know what we’re going to do about it.

“The Green Party is paralysed and doesn’t know how to do these cuts. There’s no choice because the central government grant to local government is being cut and something has to be done.

“It seems to me that there’s millions of pounds that should be coming into the public purse which are going into the hands of criminals instead. That’s madness.”

He plays down concerns about mental health, saying licensing would also regulate the type of cannabis on offer, reducing the concentration of psycho-active elements, THC, and making it legal would also make it less attractive to rebellious teenagers due to the absence of the forbidden fruit factor.

However, the plans were rubbished by the city’s Labour group leader Warren Morgan.

He said: “We would not support proposals to plug the council’s funding gap by selling cannabis from council-run shops.

“A study posted recently by Kings College London highlights the potential health risks to regular cannabis use, and we are committed to reducing smoking in all its forms and the negative impact it has on public health.

“The solution to council funding lies with the government in Westminster, not through councils selling drugs.

“Do Caroline Lucas and her Green Party colleagues really believe that selling drugs is a solution to the council’s funding crisis?

“Have they honestly thought through the potential harm that encouraging cannabis use, let alone more smoking, will do to future generations of young people?

“Even for the Greens, this is totally irresponsible, and yet another reason to vote Ms Lucas and her councillor colleagues out in May.”

  1. Hot Key Reply

    What refreshing idea ?
    Are the governors of the city happy when they pass by a cloud of Cannabis smoke sold illegally and yet smoked everywhere freely which does not contribute to its coffers ?

    On a more contemporary note;
    Bastion of cannabis bashing, the Good old USA is now easing off and legalizing the stuff in a number of States with a hindsight of Economic a.w.a. wider benefits!
    Shall we supposed to think that they’ve lost their marbles or that they are discovering that it is the BEST WAY forward for all ?

    Is Netherlands’ Healthcare system being overpowered & swamped by delirious Cannabis users ?
    Of course not !

    Brighton is a truly Civilized City and its Artistic, Intellectual population should be able to handle such a trivial issue as Cannabis use, without the nanny state’s interference is a Logical, Rational and Truly Civilized notion !
    Which Brighton already does apply this Civility on its own anyway, without a single stick being shown !

    • Amanda Reeves Reply

      As a trainee clinical Psychologist, I often see the dreadful and heart-breaking symptoms of cannabis psychosis, particularly in the young people that I work with.

      Anybody who believes that cannabis is a safe drug is an absolute fool.

      • Alun Buffry Reply

        what you see my friend is the results of unrestricted and illegal supply of cannabis of unknown strength and purity.

        the fact that a small number of young people suffer devastating effects that is explained away by their use of cannabis under the present regime is no reason to continue to allow the criminals to control the market and certainly no reason to punish the users whether they suffer or benefit from cannabis.

      • Jacob Stevens Reply

        “Several studies have suggested that regular, long-term cannabis use is one of a number of environmental factors that, in combination with certain genetic predisposing factors, may significantly increase a young individual’s chance of experiencing psychosis and developing schizophrenia. However, numbers of people being diagnosed with schizophrenia remained stable over time during which the number of cannabis users increased and average strength rose significantly. There are clearly nuances that remain to be understood, but despite this uncertainty, we can entirely rule out the possibility that cannabis causes a level of risk of schizophrenia that would warrant the media coverage of the issue.”

        – Prof David Nutt

        Source: http://www.drugscience.org.uk/blog/2013/10/24/think-cannabis-harmless-no-does-anyone-what-about-propagating-drug-hysteria-harmless/

      • Gerhard Lohmann-Bond Reply

        As a trainee clinical psychologist you only see the problems, not the benefits. And if you knew anything about statistics, you wouldn’t call people who disagree with you ‘absolute fools’ on mere anecdotal evidence.

      • Patrick Bell Reply

        “As a trainee clinical Psychologist, I often see the dreadful and heart-breaking symptoms of cannabis psychosis” – Well no you don’t, you see the heart-breaking symptoms of psychosis in someone who uses cannabis and are in a profession to lazy to investigate the number of other contributing factors over jumping on the Cannabis scapegoat bandwagon(and i will happily say this as i have suffered from a very young age with severe depression and anxiety that was misdiagnosed until i was in my teens, life got better when i was 16 and first had a spliff, and got worse when the doctors told me the cannabis was causing my depression and gave me pharmaceutical anti-depressants. It was not simply cannabis on its own that helped I also went through a few years of behavioral therapy)

        No one here claims that cannabis is without danger, but we also recognize that the danger of cannabis is significantly less so than that of a number of drugs available for purchase legally(alcohol, Caffeine, Tobacco for a few obvious examples) as well as the vast majority of Pharmaceuticals available to the Public, and we find such inconsistency in the law frustrating. Yes we are all aware of the dangers of Cannabis, probably more so than yourself as most of us here dance with those dangers on a daily basis. but the benefits far outweigh the dangers to a level far greater that that of the positive/negative ratio of almost every legal drug currently available in the UK. Attitudes like yours are narrow minded and arrogant and will cause more long term damage than any drug known to man.

  2. Hot Key Reply

    One OR two more things;

    Cannabis reaches out to many an Artist’s creative Neuron network than anything else can

    With the same token, I personally know many Arthritis sufferers as well as sufferers of many other ailments who has hard time chasing “Biker Gangs” as mentioned in the article, in their wheel chairs !

    I myself been given the merry go round many many times to meet the Crooked dealers in many parts of the city while it is raining down, muddy, cold and specially at frantic weekends !

    In any case
    Internet freed the drug user via many sites i.e. Silk Road / Now Closed but, others available) by enabling the user to purchase anything they want !

    I hope I am not a lone voice in thinking;

    It is a great pity
    That a Civilized City as Brighton is
    It is Governors are seem to be Blind to economic a.w.a. other benefits of such an ESSENTIAL UPDATE
    Civilized Brighton’ Governors MUST UPDATE themselves to

  3. Sandra Reply

    Just when you thought that the incompetent and incapable Marxist Green Party couldn’t sink any lower…

  4. Steve Peake Reply

    A few points :

    According to reputable scientific opinion, such as professor David Nutt, cannabis is significantly less harmful than both alcohol and tobacco. At the moment we licence and tax the sale of both these legal drugs and spend the proceeds on public services. So why not cannabis ?

    The causal link between cannabis use and psychosis has not been scientifically proven. Even if, a small minority of people (for the vast majority of cannabis users do some entirely safely) suffer mental health problems due to cannabis use, this harm is not prevented by prohibition. Strict enforcement of age limits on cannabis purchases are not possible under prohibition, whereas they would be under legalisation, thereby protecting younger users who are more at risk from cannabis use. Regulation of the crucial balance between THC and CBD in cannabis would also be possible under legal regulation. Warren Morgan is just peddling tired old ‘reefer madness’ stories that the scientific community abandoned years ago. Kinda what you’d expect from an aging Labour warhorse.

    Clearly the tide is turning against Prohibition. Colorado is raking in the tax dollars and is even considering a tax rebate due to the levels of income generated by legalised cannabis. In the meantime we are cutting services to vulnerable people due to a lack of income to the BHCC coffers.

    Warren Morgan would have us wait for a Labour Government that has promised to continue the Tory cuts. How is that an answer to our current fiscal problems in Brighton ?

    Perhaps Mr Morgan is happy to continue wasting billions of tax payers’ money on prosecuting recreational drugs users who exercise their human rights to experiment with their own consciousness, usually with much less harm than the binge drinkers who disturb our communities every weekend. Perhaps Mr Morgan is happy leaving a massive industry in the hands of criminals instead of it being controlled by public spirited voluntary organisations ?

    Looking at the paucity of ideas emerging from the Labour Party about how to tackle our growing problems, both locally and nationally, I can’t say I’m surprised.

  5. Adrian Reply

    Amanda – as a clinical psychologist, it behoves you to understand the situation better than simply dismissing it – “Anybody who believes that cannabis is a safe drug is an absolute fool.” You make no mention of the difference between skunk, say, and grass: I would not ingest skunk on any sort of regular basis but would have no real problem with grass. The real point about safety is quality of goods: a system of licensing and regulation (as applies in other areas where food / substances are taken / eaten / drunk) allows proper control and deals with safety aspects.

    Perhaps you could expand on your views.

    Alcohol is not ‘safe’ – and tobacco certainly isn’t. Why is cannabis so terrible? It sounds like fear of the unknown to me. It really is about time that we got over this nonsense about drugs once and for all: they are not going to go away so can we PLEASE act like educated adults and take them OUT of the hands of nasty dealers once and for all?

  6. pistolboy Reply

    I suppose those who are compelled to use cannabis can try abstaining from doing so. After all, we get told it ain’t addictive so why not? Using your brain with dope may expand the mind to yourself but to others you come across as a bore. Also it is a fairly new drug in the western world compared to alcohol which has been around since year dot. The only reason it’s getting a foothold is because of soft attitudes towards it. As for the old argument about taking it out of the hands of criminals, rubbish. Crims will just undercut any legality drugs being sold and will just have the attitude of ‘yeah, well, the stuff in the shops is weak man, try a load of this’. And the more naïve youth and foolish older adults will. Every pothead I know/have known (inc my younger self to some extent) is or was a waste of space and it’s now unfortunate that two late teens I know are in mental institutions as we speak because of cannabis use from an early age. Legislation is a bad move in my opinion, just a green light when really it should stay red.

    • Almundoman Cannavist Reply

      …’it is a fairly new drug in the western world compared to alcohol which has been around since year dot.’
      Are you aware cannabis has been around since about 3000bc and used as a medicine in China?!?
      Cannabis is not without it’s risks and dangers, however being aware of these risks and dangers is the only way to mitigate them. Prohibition does not allow for age restriction or quality control, both major contributing factors to the harms caused as a DIRECT result of prohibition.
      How did prohibition of alcohol go back in the early 1900s…. oh yeah it was a terrible assault on people with the harms multiplied exponentially due to prohibition. If we cannot learn from our past mistakes we are doomed….

      • pistolboy Reply

        I did actually say western world and even though my geography is fairly mediocre compared to many, I hope I’m correct in saying China is still in the East. My point was the comparison between how ingrained alcohol is in western society compared to cannabis.

    • Alun Buffry Reply

      Are you suggesting that everyone that thinks legalisation and stopping the punishment of victimless users and growers is himself / herself a cannabis user?

      So you think cannabis users are boring – is that a reason to arrest them?

      • pistolboy Reply

        My point about boring users was a personal observation re. the ‘mind expansion’ comment in the article. It usually involves someone prattling on about some thought that came to them etc. Fine if you are talking bollocks yourself over a joint but that’s about it. Regarding getting arrested, simple, don’t be caught using or carrying an illegal substance. Just think if there wasn’t a demand to use this drug then the criminal suppliers would disappear. Weakness in law over decades has increased the supply and demand, that is fact. If the law had been as tough as is pretended then it wouldn’t be the case. Look, some want it legalised, some don’t. I think it would be a big, big mistake and once the genie is out of the bottle it won’t be going back in. Others will differ to that view and in decades to come they may get their way but so far my view prevails so for now, meet the undesirable criminal element to use cannabis, risk harm and a criminal record (if you are that unfortunate to actually get done that is). If that doesn’t float your boat then keep off the stuff.

    • arnie Reply

      @pistolboy cannabis was only taken out of the british medicine cabinet some 70 years ago. before then you could get it in the chemist.

      Because you percieve people who smoke as boring doesnt mean to say that they should have their lives ruined by a criminal record

      the criminal supply of cannabis only exists because of its legal status. change one line of the misuse of drugs act and you take the market out of the hands of criminals and into the hands of small business. did you know for example colorado which only has a population of 5.6 million (london is 8m) took some $8m dollars in cannabis sales in january ALONE. $2.3m of that was tax and 30% of that tax went to schools. infact coloradans are all getting a marijuana tax rebate. go figure.

      As for skunk….. well, i wouldnt want to risk boring you.

  7. Maf Moors Reply

    This is a very forward thinking and refreshing approach. It gets my full support .

  8. Alun Buffry Reply

    quote “He plays down concerns about mental health, saying licensing would also regulate the type of cannabis on offer, reducing the concentration of psycho-active elements, THC, and making it legal would also make it less attractive to rebellious teenagers due to the absence of the forbidden fruit factor.”

    This is a brilliant and overdue concept, except for the above.

    Truth is that many people smoke the high THC strains of cannabis and beenefit from or enjoy them, and a tiny minority of users, mostly young teenages, seem to suffer problems.

    Restricting the THC content will solve nothing – does the Green Party propose that those “rebellious teenagers” be allowe daccess to weaker strains of cannabis through the cannabis outlets – will there be no restriction on age?

    Or will ALL the users that prefer the stronger strains be unable to buy it from the shops and then continue to buy from unlicensed growers and suppliers? That is, they wil be left on the streets.

    What is the problem with credible and accurate advice on strength to give people the choice, just as people can choose to buy weaker beers or stringer spirits?

    But in reality cannabis is not only about THC content – one of the psychoactive constituents – it is also about CBD and other cananbinoid content – the THC:CBD ratio.

    CBD is known to have anti-psychotic properties and is in fact being produced by pharmaceutical companies: for many users it is as important as THC – for many users it makes the effects of the THC more pleasant.

    Freedom of choice and Justice are the keys to solid evidence based policies.

    We would not prevent all people from drinking whiskey and force them on to beer, just because some of the whiskey drinkers have developed problems, neither should we restrict waht can be legally sold based upon the small number that have suffered from illicit street cannabis where the ratios are unknown, those commonly but incorrectly labelled by the press as “skunk”.

  9. Alun Buffry Reply

    Put Justice, Health and Safety first – impossible under the present laws.

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