A right wing pressure group in favour of Cannabis has started a campaign of civil disobedience which is likely to leads to hundreds of arrests in the United Kingdom.
More than 200 patients denied medicinal cannabis on the National Health Service have been organised by Steve Moore of Libertarian group Centre for Medical Cannabis (CMC), to declare themselves to police. The users have apparently been told they can grow up to 9 plants whereas the police are known to operate an informal threshold of 6 plants before arrests are made.
Moore himself has not said whether he will be growing any plants. He is a former director of Volteface a libertarian think tank set up by Paul Birch who, with his brother and sister-in-law, founded the social network enterprise, Bebo. The business was sold in 2008 for $850m.
Moore has organised the growers rebellion in anger that six months after the drug was approved for medical use, NHS health trusts are not yet allowing it for a variety of budgetary and technical reasons.
“The situation is absurd,” said Moore. “Police have signalled only last week that they will not act against recreational users, yet those who really need the drug are still in limbo.”
CMC has installed a figurehead patient, Carly Barton, from Brighton, whose NHS cannabis prescription, the first written by a British doctor, was blocked by her local health trust.
She has started growing her own medicine and has signed up other patients for a campaign dubbed “Carly’s Amnesty”.
Participants must sign a statement that they are being treated by a specialist clinician, have at least one symptom listed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for cannabis-based medicine, and have been denied access to medicinal cannabis.
They must promise to grow no more than nine plants and must do so in a place, such as a garage, attic or back garden, that is not visible to the public. A list of participants will be passed to police.
Moore also founded Volteface which operates from the same Hanway Street address in central London as CMC, and combines active PR with considerable secrecy as to its own methods and precise financing. It is thought that Volteface receives government grants as well as financing from Birch.