Monday, 29 June 2015
From the over 18 to the over 70, from a postman to an ex-chief constable, from mothers to teachers, from artists to venture capitalists from those living with cancer, to those trying to live with themselves, horticulturists to entrepreneurs, impassioned speakers to cool and groovy musicians. People. Simply people, feeling relaxed, enjoying the atmosphere, the surroundings, the tangible human friendliness and enjoyment. The freedom to let go of that small, but chronic, nagging, insidious feeling that being oneself can lead to trouble.
Did I enjoy the Hemp and Alternative Future Expo this last weekend. Oh yes I did and it moved me......several times.
It moved me because it wasn't expecting any trouble; "Oh, this event is going to be money for old rope, nobody here is going to make any trouble" said one of the security guards as we stood next to the adequately flimsy boundary fence, which I am sure didn't get touched for the whole event, however convenient it might have been, walking from camp site to venue. Respect, you see, goes both ways and when it does - everyone just gets along. It moved me to see how much effort the organisers had made, not only to look after its guests and its attendees, but also its exhibitors. The quality of the refreshments and facilities were excellent
It moved me that the only intervention I saw from security, was to bring one chap, carrying a glass beer bottle, a plastic glass to put his beer in! You see there was a visibly stated "No Glass" rule on the premises. It seems, this rule didn't apply to the hundreds of glass bongs and pipes being utilised. One can only conclude that it's only those who put alcohol in their glass that cannot be trusted. It moved me further to see a few people surreptitiously and rather guiltily carrying different types and strengths of alcohol in their bags, whilst the vast majority of the community chose a different substance to consume without fear of disapproval or, frankly, arrest.
It moved me to hear new stories meet growing and recent friends, meet and make new friends. To be able to help and guide sufferers of many conditions and from all walks of life through the maze of information and misinformation about cannabis as a choice and as a medicine, as a flowering plant and as an oil. To help those in trouble with the law as a result of possessing the medication needed to most effectively manage their symptoms, being able to point them towards another section of our community. To be able to just point to a place where a medical cannabis patient can find information on strains that help them, and to be able to acquire the seed. It moved me that all the stands were helping each other as well as festival goers, sharing with each other, that so many aspects of the hemp and cannabis movement were represented in solidarity.
It moved me to see how the entire industry is coming along. The artistry, the engineering and the manufacturing, the genetics, the technology and the horticulture. It was also pretty cool to be at an event where lighters and rolling papers were cheap :)
Those who stood up to speak moved me. So much reason, so much passion, so much compassion and so much activity. The message is hopeful, it is heartening and the volume is rising.
It moved me that this event was happening and that it was in the UK. I do hope it can happen again next year. I do hope it can get bigger and better, without interference. I hope more people in the UK can see, that all a large and wide population of cannabis consumers and enthusiasts ever seems to be, is a peaceful, accepting and welcoming community.
Thanks to the entire community for a really great weekend. Just what a lovely place to be. So full of beautiful, varied, colourful and friendly people.
Wednesday, 3 June 2015
I think we are all reasonably comfortable with the idea that there is a significant correlation between mental health and cannabis. The argument that remains is in the nature of that correlation. Most (if not all) of us are in little doubt that people who suffer from a variety of mental health problems find that cannabis helps them. Consumption of cannabis, in this case, is effective self-medication.
If you accept this premise, then logically one can conclude that in a wide community of cannabis consumers and moreover a community of cannabis activists/campaigners will inevitably contain a high proportion of people who suffer from mental health problems. Add to that those that live with chronic physical problems plus all those who have been treated unfairly, vilified, persecuted, threatened, insulted, arrested, abused, supressed and generally made to feel “pushed to the fringes” for what adds up to a personal choice, then is it any wonder then that our community contains so many personalities, egos, agendas, angles, experiences, attitudes, approaches and beliefs?
That is a lot of angry, frustrated, sensitive and irritable people in one community. It is also not surprising that many within the community take their part in the cause deeply personally and can feel threatened by challenges, criticisms and/or alternatives. As a result things boil over too frequently, too loudly, too personally and most unfortunately too publicly. People act like people do, then other people get offended and over reach their response and you have a perfectly vicious little circle. There’s conspiracy and paranoia, suspicion and accusation. Not surprising, perhaps, given all the above, however it damages us all and when I see it, I can’t help but feel disappointed and a little deflated.
We are all flawed characters; none of us are perfect (most of us, far from it – and yes, I am speaking for myself!) and isn’t one of the things that we are all passionately fighting about; being judged without reason, truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth and yet we do it to each other. I’m not saying that challenges should not be made or that inappropriate behaviour should not be called out, but as people, I would have hoped that we could all show rather more empathy and be more supportive of each other and as a group we need a professional and credible public face to be effective and there is no way that this is going to happen whilst ever we can be seen to be focused on attacking each other.
There is one thing that ALL of us agree on. It is the single thing that has brought us together to fight for something that we all passionately believe in – the reasons why are interesting but ultimately unimportant. The effectiveness of each of our individual methods is up for (respectful) debate, but ultimately isn’t it the goal that counts?
“Legal access to Cannabis for Adults, Medicinal Cannabis for all”
So, next time someone from within our community does something/says something/produces something (or reacts to something) and you don’t like it, before you make a judgement, try to remember how YOU would like to be judged by our criminal justice system and apply the same criteria to your own judgement AND before you publicly (re)react, stop for a minute and with compassion, think about whether, for our common goals, your anger, energy and resources are best directed at an ally in our fight or at our common enemy? If you chose the former over the latter, then aren't you running the risk of being part of the problem rather than the solution?