Did she really just say that???
Updated: Jun 25
Thoughts from The Hemp Hound Agency in regards to the PCC for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, stating that cannabis should be a Class A drug, just like heroin and crack cocaine.
Alison Hernandez, PCC for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
It's been hard for me to suss out what to write about Alison Hernandez's opinion in regards to the classification of cannabis, as I'd contacted her last year to ask where she stood on the topic, which you can see below.
A very short conversation between Cefyn Jones, founder of The Hemp Hound Agency and Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly on 28/10/2021
So her recent bombshell comments aren't some Priti Patel-esque defiant stand-off with party politics in mind, that opinion of hers is personal, but then to say that cannabis should be classed the same as heroin and crack cocaine? What on earth has she gone through to come to that conclusion!?!?
Not a picture of Cefyn Jones, but he also got a beard, and he's not afraid to stroke it whilst pondering...
I've been homeless, at times I was surrounded by people who were abusers of heroin and crack cocaine, and 20 years on, very few are still alive. I've lost friends, but never to cannabis, in fact I know a fair few people who used cannabis to get off heroin and crack cocaine, and even more so when it comes to escaping alcoholism.
What I've also seen is the mental, as well as physical state that heroin and crack cocaine can leave people in, and the psychosis that occurs through withdrawing from those drugs. It's much worse than anything cannabis is perceived to do, but politicians don't like talking about it because cannabis is convenient, which is why it's always about 'cannabis and drugs', whilst comparing cannabis to the drugs it's been separated from.
The cause of psychosis tends be be a poor state of mental health, or a pre-existing mental heath condition, that leads the brain to get caught in a logic loop that it can't find a way out of. Drugs aren't necessarily the cause of this, drugs tend to be the 'escape' from a reality someone is struggling with, but if those drugs are abused, they can trigger psychosis.
Here lies the problem, anything can trigger psychosis: beer, weed, heroin, cigarettes... even looking in a mirror can cause an effect where your mind goes into an internal breakdown and desperately tries to 're-boot'.
The fact that cannabis is singled out as 'a cause of psychosis' is misleading, and to suggest that without comparing the statistics for psychosis events that are related to legal or illegal drugs is questionable... that is of course, unless you've had a personal experience.
Whatever Mrs Hernandez's experience was, it must have been big, and judging by her wider comments, I'd say that someone close to her had a bad time with Class A drugs, and she is assuming that the mental health issues surrounding that scenario were down to cannabis.
How can I say that?
Cannabis has never killed anyone in its recorded history, heroin and crack cocaine on the other hand have, prolifically, but they aren't as renown for the deterioration of mental health to the point of psychosis.
My original message to Mrs Hernandez was specifically about cannabis, however she first talked about drugs collectively, and then cannabis individually after. Politicians do that almost like it's second nature, but we're talking about someone who has had a personal experience here, and not someone who has previously boasted about recreational use before being appointed into office.
Tie that into her thoughts of cannabis, heroin and crack cocaine being worthy of being in the same drug class together, and I think there's all the possibilities that I'm right.
Folks, I think we need to stop the personal attacks on Mrs Hernandez's comments. Instead, we need to collectively invite her to tell her story, and if I'm right in my assumptions, it won't be a story that will be easy for her to tell. It can't be, otherwise she wouldn't have the opinion that she does.
If I'm wrong, and she has no story to tell, it'd certainly bring her stance into question, as well as the fact that she's indicated a personal experience has influenced the way she directs the police, who in fact are supposedly there to serve the public before politicians, of which Mrs Hernandez is before she is a Police and Crime Commissioner.
Whatever her experiences may have been, she has to accept that you can't make a distinction like that with cannabis, and not expect many people to provide their opinions in return. The public with it's over 50% approval rating for the liberalisation of cannabis laws since 2019 knows more about the plant than Mrs Hernandez may realise, and more so I believe than Mrs Hernandez knows herself.
Courtesy of Statista
Furthermore, she needs to respect that there is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence to show there's no justifications for cannabis to be a Class A drug, or for it to be compared to the 'real drugs' that actually do cause anti-social behaviour and do destroy communities. She needs to respect that county lines, certainly in respect to cannabis, only exists because MP's with interests in medicinal cannabis focused companies are holding on to the antiquated Misuse of Drugs Act (MoDA) 1971 to ensure a recreational (food) market never exists so that access to medicinal cannabis comes to their benefit.
Whatever Mrs Hernandez's experiences are, I'm sorry that she's gone through them. But if they are in regards to drug induced psychosis, they are rare when it comes to cannabis regardless of what the politicians with interests might say, and incidences of a rare nature should not be used to formulate an opinion that will ultimately influence the policing in Devon and Cornwall.
So about that...
Is it right to push your own views onto how the police go about their business, if your opinion is formed off the back of a rare event, is against the public opinion, and subsequently not in the public interest?
Well I'm no legal expert, but considering Mrs Hernandez isn't an expert on cannabis, I'm going to give this a shot.
First and foremost
We need to be on the same page. You all need to forget this 'recreational vs medicinal' discussion, because cannabis was and still is a food, first and foremost. It's not just any old food either, it's a food that we have evolved with, and that can be proved simply by the existence of the Endo-Cannabinoid System (ECS).
OK, please refer to Article 2 of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998, AKA the Right to Life. Every human has the right to eat (live), and if that happens to be a viable food, which cannabis is, anyone enforcing MoDA needs to be instantly informed... “You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court”
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to bring this up, it helps understanding what exactly the word ingestion means:
“the process of taking food, drink, or another substance into the body by swallowing or absorbing it” Oxford Languages
Again, stop thinking recreational or medicinal, it's a manufactured argument, think food! You are absorbing cannabinoids, even when smoking cannabis, which are essential for maintaining a healthy ECS, and to prevent you from getting illnesses, diseases or ailments that have been proven as symptoms of a depleted ECS.
You could say “But Cef, there's the food supplemental market”, but then that's being restricted through Novel Foods, and certain politicians and companies are working hard to remove a lot of 'controlled cannabinoids' off the menu, because someone, who has a big relationship with the Home Office (HO), has a big list of patents to protect.
You could also say "what about THC and CBN?", but I think there's a solid argument for all cannabinoids from cannabis to be defined as a food. Starving you of that food can lead to a medical need, which leads to questions in regards to the morals of maintaining prohibition.
Now we flip to the UN, their Human Rights charter and the 2009 UN convention on Drugs and Crime.
“many countries have introduced severe penalties for drug use and related crime, which have resulted in large numbers of people in prisons, compulsory treatment centres, or labour camps without significant long-term impact on drug use, drug dependence or drug-related crime in the community and are in contradiction with human rights” Page 10 (P.20 in PDF), 'In Conclusion', 2009 UNODC
Let me ask a question, how long do you think it takes for a gap in the market to be filled? Admittedly hard drug dealers repopulate in a magical, almost computer game type fashion, but the cannabis world as a whole isn't far behind. No doubt politicians will tell you that this is because of county lines and warehouse grows, but from what I've seen, the vast majority of growers who're busted have less than 18 plants. That's hardly a criminal empire when you consider most are also growing for their own needs as well as others.
And then there's the damage that cannabis does to society as opposed to other drugs. There's no real comparison, yet politicians make one that to all intents and purposes is self serving.
Cannabis is bad, but is it?
From all the stories I've heard, and the scenes I've witnessed, there is less of a chance of anti-social behaviour from cannabis consumption than crack heroin or crack cocaine, as well as alcohol, which is a legal drug. In fact, I would hazard a guess right now and say that the policing for alcohol related crime far outstrips costs from policing the general consumption of drugs, and certainly the aftermath that is associated with consuming heroin or crack cocaine.
Simply put, the conclusion from the 2009 UNODC report is more apt with cannabis than any other drug. Prohibition is not just against your right to life, it's absurd!
We have to go to MoDA Section 28, which is your get out of jail free card. The section basically states that if you can prove you didn't know what you were caught with was illegal, you could have your charges dropped.
The UK Human Rights Act supersedes the Misuse of Drugs Act, and enforcing the Misuse of Drugs Act breaks international Human Rights laws. Due to the uncertainty in the law on that basis, its application, and that many politicians seem to be benefiting from medicinal cannabis whilst maintaining prohibition of cannabis as a whole, it's difficult to understand what IS, and IS NOT, legal. That combined with the uncertainty around whole bud hemp products, 0.2% THC as a level that defines when hemp (cannabis) is and is not legal/allowed to be farmed under license, The Misuse of Drugs Regulation 2001's 1mg rule, the level of information available in the public realm vs the disinformation given by politicians who have interests in the matter means that there is absolute uncertainty in regards to what is and isn't legal, as well as uncertainty on whether or not a law can be applied if its sole function is to deny the population of a food source.
That's how I see it, I'm not a legal professional but I have been arrested a few times in the past for possession, so I have personal experiences!
I am in no way advocating this as an acceptable defence if you're caught in possession or for cultivation of cannabis, but it'd certainly give the residing judge something to consider, as well as any arresting officer when they're deciding whether or not you should be charged.
but on the strength of it
Mrs Hernandez is promoting total prohibition to starve your ECS to the point that medicinal access is required. At this point, some of her colleagues will benefit, despite the fact that MoDA and the drug laws in general break domestic and international Human Rights Acts.
All of that comes off the back of a rare, and possibly misrepresented personal experience that led to an opinion that cannabis should be a Class A drug, and is comparable to heroin and crack cocaine.
The Hemp Hound Agency would like to invite Mrs Hernandez to an interview, where personal experiences can be discussed openly, opinions can be shared, and the true legal stand point of cannabis prohibition and it's classification can be touched upon.
The Hemp Hound Agency would also like to invite Plymouth Live to have a chat, and maybe we can address some of the points on cannabis that mainstream media seems to have a habit of inaccurately reporting.