Documentary Details Underground Medical Marijuana Trade in the UK

While the marijuana laws in the U.S. are gradually becoming more relaxed, in the United Kingdom, the drug remains a Class B substance, which means simple possession can result in a five-year prison term. Those caught supplying the drug can face up to 14 years in prison. marijuana

Yet there are many people who are desperately ill and in need of the drug as medicine. This has created an underground medical marijuana scene, a snapshot of which was recently seen in a new documentary series called Viceland. Dealers reportedly give away tens of thousands of pounds of cannabis every year in an effort to help relief physical pain and suffering of those in need.

Similar to the arguments against legalization in the U.S., those against allowing medical marijuana in the U.K. argue that the drug is tough to dose, has been linked to mental health problems and serves as a “gateway” drug. 

One of the documentary’s primary subjects is a single father named Paul who suffers from serious headaches after a stroke 10 years ago. He illegally procures cannabis in order to help treat his symptoms – and it’s the only drug so far that has seemed to help. Although he is aware that he is putting his family in jeopardy, he described his migraines as debilitating. Without his medicine, he says, he’s unable to work or attend to his family’s needs. Ultimately, he wants to be the best father he can be.

Another subject of the piece, a dealer, doles out more than $20,000 worth of cannabis oil to help those grappling with severe and chronic pain. He creates the oil using leaves that have been discarded by cultivators. This process has so far resulted in in two explosions.

Both subjects talk about organizing a grassroots effort to organize for real change on this front.

Possession of marijuana is illegal in most countries per the International Opium Convention, a treaty that was signed in 1925. Still, just as in the U.S. some nations either don’t enforce it or openly violate it. Every country has its own caveats, so it’s really important if you’re traveling to educate yourself about the laws and the potential risks you take if you do choose to consume cannabis somewhere other than the U.S.

Supporters of legalization find there is generally tolerance in Mexico, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Jamaica, Germany and the Netherlands. But don’t expect to be able to smoke the drug out in public. A lot of countries have their own caveats. For example, some, like the U.S., consider it as illegal as heroin, but either don’t enforce it or don’t enforce it everywhere. Other countries, like the Netherlands and Uruguay, allow recreational use of the drug.

Traveling with marijuana, depending on where you are, is very risky, and could result in arrest, deportation or prison. It is illegal in the U.S., federal law prohibits possession, use or sale of marijuana, and carrying the drug across state lines can have serious consequences. Further, if you are entering a state that prohibits marijuana, you’re going to be subject to all the applicable laws and penalties of that state. And it’s not just marijuana. Paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs and grinders can also put you at risk of arrest.

Our marijuana lawyers are here to help you fight these kinds of charges. We know that the patchwork of laws – in California, in the greater U.S. and globally – can be confusing and ever-changing. We will fight to ensure your rights are protected.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

How the UK’s drug laws have created an underground medical marijuana scene, Nov. 15, 2016, By Kashmira Gander, Independent UK

More Blog Entries:

Study: Medical Marijuana Laws Linked to More Older Worker Participation, Nov. 16, 2016, California Marijuana Lawyer Blog