Countries around the world have begun to take increasingly varied approaches to Cannabis use. Each national jurisdiction has its own policy (either official or otherwise) in regards to the Cannabis plant. Prohibition, legalisation, decriminalisation, and tolerance are just the tip of the iceberg.
Even in countries where Cannabis use or sale is technically illegal, it might be tolerated by the authorities. Take, for example, the Netherlands’ coffee shops, or Spain’s Cannabis member clubs. Could a similar thing take off in the UK?
UK Cannabis Members Clubs
The UK has criminalised Cannabis use for over 100 years, with little concession made to ‘tolerance’. As a result, most people would be surprised to learn that the UK has its own network of Cannabis Members clubs. That’s because the majority of these venues, and their members, have preferred to operate more secretly. However, that now seems to be changing.
In 2014, the Teesside Cannabis Club opened its doors in an unusually public manner. It has even been featured in articles by the BBC, The Guardian, and The Times, as well as on TV’s BBC One, BBC Three, and ITV. The Teesside Cannabis club has now been open for over four years, with members signing up for a yearly membership. Non-members are not permitted to regularly visit the club, however, they may be able to attend club events.
The UK Cannabis Social Clubs National Committee
There is even a not-for-profit organisation which connects these clubs while campaigning for decriminalisation and legalisation.
The UK Cannabis Social Clubs National Committee (UKCSC) was founded in 2011 by “concerned citizens comprised of experienced healthcare professionals, industry experts, horticulturalists, clinical researchers, patients, entrepreneurs, and activists from across the world”.
The UKCSC claims that there are now over 80 of these clubs operating across the UK. UKCSC National Committee also acts as a regulator, ensuring common practises and even quality products. But, how can this be, if Cannabis is still illegal?
Cannabis Clubs and The Law
Well, it seems that an increasing number of police forces around the country have decided that personal Cannabis use is not a priority, Although the authorities continue to discourage the use of Cannabis, some have revealed that they are no longer targeting use on private property.
Many of the clubs even communicate with their local police to minimise complications and disturbances. The most recent example of this is in Durham, where the latest Cannabis Members Club may open next Spring. The team behind the Teesside Cannabis Club is looking to open the second location.
Although a spokesperson described the proposed club as “unhelpful in the debate”, the Durham police authorities have repeatedly clarified that they “target the dealers and organised crime groups who are harming our communities, not the low-level users.” Last year, Durham’s Chief Constable Mike Barton, even called for cannabis to be decriminalised.
Founder of the Teesside Cannabis Club, Michael Fisher, claimed:
“The venue reduces the need to integrate with the black market, so I personally feel these venues should be all over the country…”
Many of the venues even adhere to the UK’s non-smoking regulations, with the use of vaporisers. Also in line with UK law, Cannabis is not grown directly by any of the venues, as it may be in other European countries. Instead, the Cannabis Members clubs claim to act as “a first point of contact for cannabis consumers, patients, advice, general cannabis information, harm reduction, and education.”
Members must also be willing to register through the venue and prove that they are 18 or older. The UKCSC believes that the current network will prove to be an asset in raising awareness.
The organisation has stressed that the clubs “will still play a key part in a legalised cannabis market”. Most of the clubs stress that they do not encourage the sale of any illegal products, but offer a safe place for users to consume Cannabis.