Nice item in The Independent on Sunday[2002]. Yet whatever this particular paper reports –  it’s very clearly and sensibly pro-legalisation of cannabis – I rather doubt whether Exeter’s winsome and ingratiating MP Ben Bradshaw will come out in favour of legalisation. Why not? Well, ‘hang on a minute’, as the current putrid crop of Blairites interject whenever fielding sharp or awkward questions. (Pause.) Um: too controversial, too few votes in it – no don’t quote me on that… Truth is, we just don’t know enough about the effects… Insufficient information… But leads inevitably to harder drugs, crime, lunacy, anarchy etc. Blah Blair Blah! 

      Concerning cannabis, one’s heard these refrains before. Despite many centuries of personal testimony, quantities of great artworks produced ‘under the influence’; notwithstanding medical, psychological and social research, surveys, commissions, and reports, politicians still pretend to the public that ‘we’ don’t know enough about this delightful substance we can’t be trusted to ingest or enjoy. 

      As for our devotedly mobile MP, Bradshaw doubtless has pressing, more substantial things to promote at the FO. These include the defence of British democracy and civilised values, via the unloading of bombs on civilians; extolling our own home-grown armoury of ‘weapons of mass destruction’, and flogging that same repellent stuff to any New Labour-approved buyer. Bradshaw is fundamentally Tony’s clone and errandboy – a freshfaced Enthusiast-for-Everything, be it nuclear arsenals, depleted uranium ammo or similar technological marvels. 

      Anything less harmful and more pleasurable, like cannabis, seems unworthy of Bradshavian attention or endorsement. (‘Enforcement’ is a near-homophone preferred by Blair’s fellow control-freaks.) Why should Bradshaw stick his still-youthful neck out when things progress so well? It’s such dizzy busy fun, helping your boss to wage wars, playing powergames on an international scale – pity there’s no time for a toke. 

      However, were more Brits encouraged to experience for themselves the manifold benefits of cannabis they mightn’t remain so apathetic about politics and injustice, nor so gullible and amenable to media brainwash. (Play safe: file under Controversial, therefore.) But if Bradshaw’s colleagues at Westminster really really can’t make up their own minds, then here’s some further comment for them. 

      I first savoured cannabis in my teens. In my sixties now, and neither marginalised cretin nor hopeless addict, I’m increasingly convinced of the many virtues of the beneficent herb. No matter what propaganda the arrogant alcohol and tobacco lobbies spew out, this sturdy plant belies and survives it. Humanity has used it for longer than either of those other two truly destructive, addictive (and hence profitable) drugs. 

      A creative mood-enhancer – thought-provoking stimulant and blissful relaxant, as well as energiser and aphrodisiac – cannabis should also be readily prescribed by doctors. Not, of course that the medical-chemical lobby will welcome such an inexpensive, highly effective painkiller. I know from experience how it alleviates the excruciating pangs of such ailments as abscessed teeth, cellulitis and shingles. Friends suffering from more serious problems, like MS and cancer, tell me it has considerably helped them too. Unfortunately, ordinary people must deal with hypocritical rulers and systems; common sense and justice are not the issue here. What’s really at stake is politics itself, as currently perceived: the exercise of power at any cost – a fatal, heady mixture of high finance and low cunning. 

      Capitalist, anti-democratic and authoritarian regimes naturally oppose natural, rational solutions to social problems. (A problem, for them, is defined as anything which might weaken or even question the established order.) Hence any truthful, potentially awkward criticism of their systems, any freeing up of ‘controversial’ matters of morality and justice, is to be avoided if not penalised. One such notion – owing to the greatly enhanced individual liberties, civil, mental and physical, that would undoubtedly follow in its wake – is the legalisation of cannabis.

      Inside the UK – where Monarchy-&-State, Money-&-Class are strongly entrenched still, under oligarchic control further reinforced by those outworn myths, racism and religion – our rulers can’t afford any threat to their safe structures, to such easily enforceable governance. The ill-educated masses might actually taste and worse still demand, better times, better deals. And that’d never do. No, let’s just stick with the status quo. As for proper informed debate, ‘free’ votes in the House, or (God forbid!) referenda on supposedly tricky subjects like cannabis legalisation – well chaps, no problem – simply fiddle with it, fuck it and forget it. 

      Back therefore to Major Issues. What this Great Nation needs and will no doubt get before too long is total privatisation of everything, plus a unionless and thus infinitely exploitable workforce. A sweated-labour-pool of those ignorant or desperate enough to go on toiling in uncertain, underpaid jobs for the enrichment of fat cats, swindlers and profiteers. Thus too we can fulfil our convenient role as a cheap and ever-cheerful offshore European base for our Eternally Great Ally. Through supporting our EGA the USA in all its splendid imperialist greed and worthy military ambitions, we’re guaranteed to get by just fine.  

      Trust those devout bullshitters Tony and George: they share (mostly mangle) a common language. They share too a noble Aim (mostly unclear) but, alas, neither would ever admit to sharing so much as a whiff of a quiet spliff. If they ever did (and better a nice blast for both, than a nastier one for mankind!) we might at least be spared their ridiculous religiosity. All that moralizing rhetoric of death and destruction – axes of evil, crusades against foreign foe or illegal alien – should be consigned to the speechwriters’ rubbish bins. B&B could then stop bashing bibles and barbarians, and relax a bit. They might meditate more imaginatively on the purpose of life, evolving visions of fruitfully utopian, rather than disastrously apocalyptic, futures for the world. 

      Meanwhile, every good boy deserves favour; no sense in rocking the boat. That old con New Labour shiftily logrolls along. Lemmings play followmyleader. An outdated concept like Socialism gets no look-in. Throughout our spectacular society the Image reigns. Queens are adored everywhere, especially in Exeter, so all’s well in the best of all possible cities. For now, however, I loyally propose that true Exonians – those of us still in possession of our drugs and faculties – light up a kingsize joint with which to roast the Jubilee. Mind you don’t inhale, Ben.  



[Note – 2014: The author is indebted to Dr Jazz Pangloss: a dozen years after the above article published under his nom de guerre, he seems to have made at least a few reasonable, if not entirely original or prophetic, points.]