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UK Cannabis legalisation edges ever closer with a trade fair in London

How far off is cannabis legalisation now that even “crusty old Republicans” like former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, supports it? Photo: Medill DC
How far off is cannabis legalisation now that even “crusty old Republicans” like former speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, support it? Photo: Medill DC

Cannabis Europa will be held in the Barbican Centre in the Square Mile on 22 May 2018. It billed itself as “the foremost arena to share knowledge and shape the future of the cannabis market in Europe.”

Spiros Malandrakis, who heads the alcohol industry section of the consumer research firm Euromonitor, declared, “I think cannabis will be the most disruptive innovation in the sector.” He added that it would make craft beer “look like playground games.” He will be a speaker, alongside other academics and lawmakers, including Crispin Blunt MP, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform. Malandrakis spoke of how “high-ranking people attending this event” indicated that “gradually, perceptions are starting to change.”

Malandrakis believes that THC-infused drinkies could come to market as soon as five years down the line. The United States, he holds, has been “a real leader,” with companies creating THC beer shortly after cannabis legalisation: “Cultural shifts can happen very quickly.”

And cultural shifts are a-happenin’

A shining example of this is John Boehner, formerly the Republican Party’s speaker in the House of Representatives, who professed himself to be “unalterably opposed” to cannabis legalisation in 2009 but only last week joined the board of directors of Acreage Holdings, a firm that grows, manipulates and dispenses cannabis in 11 of these United States. Boehner informed reporters that his attitudes had “evolved,” as he put it, and “altered,” as he did not put it – just like those of the general public: a poll by CBS News in April found 61 percent of people in the United States to believe cannabis should be legal, with a majority even amongst Republicans. Now, he favours cannabis legalisation to promote research, assist veterans and “reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.” And let’s not even mention the tax revenue. Malandrakis thinks there will be more of this: “These are benchmarks that definitely show the direction of travel.”

The horror! The horror!

Comedians Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, known as “Cheech and Chong,” commented that “pot’s over” now that even Republicans are positively disposed towards it. Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday 23 April, they remarked that “This news sucks”: the plant had lost its allure and is “boring” now that even “crusty old Republicans” supported cannabis legalisation. The pair announced that they would abandon cannabis as a staple of their comedy and instead promote those items that remains illicit in the view of the government – “stuff that’s still illegal” – such as unpasteurised dairy products and importing exotic reptiles.

We just need to do something about the attorney general

Now, if only something could be done about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who stridently opposes recreational use of cannabis, instituted a task force to review drug enforcement and rolled back pro-pot measures taken by the Obama administration, such as the Cole memo of 2013, which dictated that the federal government would mostly defer to states over the matter of cannabis. Sessions is on record as stating that cannabis is “only slightly less awful” than heroin.