Insight article

Visions of the Future: Cannabis Legalisation

12th July, 2018: Consider: you, heart throbbing, fingers clenched tightly over keys and cold cash, cautiously glancing around a lamplit alley. Silhouetted in a corner is one ominous hooded figure: an unlikely saviour, and a resource of last resort. How to save a life?

You’ll naturally be racked with doubt, fear, anxiety. It’s not just the question of remembering the paralyzed powerlessness you feel every time the convulsions begin. You’re also racked by the fears that come with this type of purchase: the potential for violence, for fraud – or, worse, for a product so impure that it causes more harm than good.

One can buy anything on the black market – but at what cost?

When cures are criminal, this is the price of seeking to alleviate pain, to prevent a seizure, to offer respite and relief to an ailing son or daughter. When cures are criminal, this is the price of seeking to save a life.

12th July, 2019: Consider: you, fingers curled lightly over a small bottle in a brightly-lit room, smiling down at an anxious, aching child.

After weeks of legislative wrangle, you’re going to be one of the first doctors in the United Kingdom to legally administer medicinal cannabis. After weeks of watching them stagnate, knowing that succour was beyond the boundaries or the law, you’re on the verge of  – in however small a way – bringing a vision of a better medical future one step closer.

You’ve testified in Parliament; you’ve appeared on radio and television; you’ve liaised with business and legislators to make the economic, medical and pragmatic cases for regulated cannabis consumption. You’ve helped smooth out the relevant Bills, arguing for and against amendments, calming the natural anxieties that come with change.

Convincing the sceptical was never easy. Yet the prominent, evocative narratives provided by needlessly suffering individuals helped provide the momentum and motivation needed to catalyse change. All that remained was the means – the collaboration, insight, and theoreticians required to turn a vision into reality – to make cannabis oil as acceptable a medical solution as chemotherapy.

That’s how to save a life.

In the United Kingdom, over 255 tonnes of cannabis are sold each year, with 3 million people purchasing approximately £2.6 billion worth of the nation’s most popular illegal drug.

Most will be seeking the relief provided by a psychotropic high. However, for some – those afflicted by epilepsy, or chronic pain, or Tourette Syndrome – the consideration isn’t hedonism but health.

Recent high-profile cases – Billy Caldwell, Sophia Gibson – of suffering children that could be helped by access to legal medicinal cannabis have catapulted the question of regulating and legalising currently illegal drugs back into the public consciousness – especially for medicinal purposes.

Proponents of legalization argue that stretched policing resources and government funding would be better directed at more harmful criminal behaviour, while also citing the potential economic benefits of a taxed, regulated cannabis industry.

Detractors fear attempts to liberalise drug legislation, doubt that a black market could ever be eradicated, and point to the moral implications of increased drug consumption.

Of course, any vision of the future should include an emphasis on moral progress as well as economic progress. The granting of emergency licenses to Billy Caldwell, Sophia Gibson, and the mother of epileptic Alfie Dingley are the first steps in that attempt: an experiment that sets a precedent.

Yet these licenses were granted after lengthy wrangles with the UK Home Office: they’re temporary, bespoke, contingent solutions. A coherent vision of the future demands legislative change, with Britain lagging behind Germany, the Netherlands, and over 30 US states.

We believe that this change is possible, and imminent. With organisations and individuals with the strategic insight and expertise to add means to momentum and motivation, we can bring that future closer – now.

We are The Storytellers. We exist to move more people to do great things through the power and influence of storytelling.

What story will move you and the people around you to do great things in 2018? Share your story with us.

Jack Moran