After the success of last years exceptionally rushed 420 on the beach we tried hard to come back a bit stronger this year with a bit more time to play with and a growing team of enthusiastic and skilled volunteers. Each year protests and festivals are held all over the world on the 20th of April in the name of legalising cannabis for all reasons and to celebrate the good this incredible herb can and does bring every day. We aimed to do this by bringing you some music, cannabis information, community, and the chance to win some amazing raffle prizes that were generously donated to us by these amazing companies.
It is easy to click and sign a petition. MPs now know that well over 210,000 people have done exactly that, unfortunately without further information they are free to picture why (and then ignore it). They might imagine 210,000 skunk addled lunatics wildly clicking around on the internet, heavily entrenched in comment section warfare. They might imagine medical patients, they might imagine normal people who may or may not use cannabis raising accurate concerns about prohibition, they might imagine any number of other things but only direct communication tells them exactly why you have signed that petition, that you are a real person, you live in their constituency and therefore why they should care.
They also don’t necessarily know that the 210K who did click and sign are just the tip of the iceberg.
Writing a letter to your MP is not a pain. It is worthwhile, and it humanises your action, for each letter the MP receives they know a real human has bothered to reach out to them.
I am going to quickly talk about fear, namely fear about using your real details. I have written a letter to my MP using my own details several times, the first time I did I was worried about what I was doing, that I was going to get in trouble for writing a letter, that it would be used as grounds to raid me even though I was not admitting to anything. I have since also emailed my MP, in each case I have used my real name and (before when writing a physical letter) my address in order to receive a written response. Sometimes I have been quite explicit about my medical use, sometimes I have been speaking more generally about prohibition and why I think it is wrong. My door has not come off. I have seen a few people online talk about using false details when signing the petition or contacting their MP. If the content of your letter is honest, own it. We are not the bad guys and we are on the right side of history. It is of course optional, it is more important to write the letter in the first place.
It is much easier though to email your MP than write to them physically so here are the emails for Swansea East and West and some MPs from the surrounding area:
Geraint Davies, Swansea West, firstname.lastname@example.org
Byron Davies, Gower, email@example.com
Carolyn Harris, Swansea East, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Kinnock, Aberavon, email@example.com
Christina Rees, Neath, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nia Griffith, Llanelli, email@example.com
Jonathan Edwards, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Hart, Carmarthen West and Dinefwr, email@example.com
http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/contacting-your-mp/ is a useful link for finding other ways to contact your MP such as Twitter. Remember you do not have to identify yourself as a cannabis user or medicinal patient unless you want to. There is plenty of room to be angry about these laws from all sorts of directions not least common sense.
So let us begin, there are a few consistent rules about letter writing but ultimately the main thing about any letter you write to your MP is that it must be personal and clearly from you, it must contain your reasons to feed into the upcoming debate matter far more than it must observe letter writing conventions. Be clear, be concise, be passionate and honest.
Be polite, the MPs are not the enemy here any more than anyone else is, sometimes they will already be happy to support you, sometimes they need to be convinced of the evidence like everyone else –and ultimately they represent you, get them on side! Also, be original, copy pasted letters are apparently ignored, use the one below as a starting model if you want or as inspiration for your own! There are suggestions for topics to expand upon half way down.
In the wake of the 200000+ petition on the government's own e-petition website I strongly urge you to consider supporting and attending the debate regarding the legal status of cannabis (both recreational and medicinal) to be held in parliament on October 12th.
The world is changing and from Israel to the US to Uruguay countries are dramatically altering their stances on drug policy. Closer to our own borders, Spain, Portugal and other parts of Europe are exercising restraint in enforcement and approaching the issue with tact, tolerance and an overarching concern for health.
My medical story ……………..
The medical benefits I have seen in others…………
My fears about inaccurate drug education for children ……………….
The benefits to the economy …………..
The wasted money spent on prohibition …………
The bad information in the media ………………
Please attend the debate on 12th October, this really matters to me and to many, many thousands of people across the country. If you have any questions for me prior to that, I would be happy to speak to you further.
Your name here
Read it through, double check it, spell check it, send it. Then when you hear a friend talking about the petition or the issue in a wider sense, ask them if they have written to their MP, ask them why they have not.
Finally, don’t stop writing. Write to your MP after the debate as well and thank them for going (if they go), scold them if they don’t go. When a by-election comes up in your area, write to all the candidates if you can. If you are able to go and meet your candidates and speak with them then that is amazing, not everyone can, but everyone definitely can write a letter and make their message heard.
One letter does make a difference, MPs raise the concerns of individual constituents all the time. If there are many of us writing to them, the message becomes harder and harder to ignore as it stops being a government problem because of a petition and instead becomes first a local matter and then a national matter as MPs across party lines are beset by letters from their constituents.
Set yourself a date, get it done.
Something a little different for this article -and not really about cannabis at all. I was absolutely gutted when the smoke cleared from the election, I stayed up late to watch it, turned in to bed at 4 and was then very disappointed by the result facing me when I woke up. I am left leaning to say the least and had very firmly voted Green for about one hundred reasons, not least their enlightened attitude towards cannabis.
I lay on the sofa and was pretty miserable for a few hours, I thought about how food bank use is going to multiply and how vindictive benefit sanctions will be more than just common but likely a constant reality for all sorts of different people, but especially the disabled and even more so for people who don't have a great support network. I have also always been very much struck by the sentiment that politics isn't just once every few years, but something you do everyday and is personal.
I have been really inspired recently by Feed the Birds, Bud Buddies of course, and the work of another cannabis social club (I want to say Leicester but I could be wrong as to who it is) who have spent time handing out care packages to the homeless in their area. I really want to do something to help people fighting against austerity and those suffering under it. It would be easy to drop some cash to a food bank (which I do from time to time) but I want to do something that adds a little extra, not just throw money at a problem that should not exist anyway.
I read recently about a community garden in the US where people can go and pick fruit and vegetables for themselves and their family, the community all working together to keep the project going. I had a look and there is no way I can afford to rent or buy land for a giant polytunnel or greenhouses anywhere round here and indeed it would probably be a full time job to grow and distribute fruit and veg for free on my own, I have asked the council before and it is a total nightmare getting allotment space near me.
Then I remembered something I had been reading about a little while ago. It appealed to the green fingered individual that I am (something I am sure many of the rest of us here are also).
(This is not my work, just to be clear I am referencing this guy's ideas not claiming them as my own)
In short, a way to turn the numerous empty pop bottles in my house, and a garden wall into a tomato, celery, and lettuce factory. I already grow potatoes in bags so the plan is to give excess potatoes (most of them) and any kind of decent vegetable crop to my local food bank. I am currently waiting to hear back whether or not they will accept fresh home grown produce but have no reason to believe not.
Like the social club handing things out to the homeless somewhere in England, I don't intend to do this in my name but rather that of Swansea Cannabis Club or possibly under the (rather half baked) name PUFF! or Pop Up Freedom Foods! (this part of the idea may not make it to reality -I will probably just give it in the name of the club). Once I have the bottles built and going I will take some pictures as the crops develop and get them up here. If this post inspires you to do anything similar, join our forums and post pictures of your crop up there.
If we were all doing this it would not change the problems facing society, but it would impact on some of them in our own area. It is also basically impossible to mess up growing potatoes and absolutely no effort to run the bottle garden once it is set up.
So, sorry this was not about the drug war or the causes of prohibition as per usual, but I think there is a bigger battle going on in this country that prohibition is a part of, and much like the drug war we can pull together and fight austerity or we can leave it go and hope politicians will wise up on their own.
Further proof that growing your own is the way forward. ;p
Say hello, and take this as your invitation, to the Swansea 420 Gathering! If you're a cannabis enthusiast, medicinal user, activist, or just support the end of cannabis prohibition feel free to come along and say hi. This isn't really a protest of any kind, just a chilled meet and greet to have a chat about the club, your views and ideas, and for those that want to get involved to come and show us just how much they'd like to be a part of the club. Not to mention a chance for us all to share information and generally talk about our good ol' friend the cannabis plant.
The plans currently are to meet somewhere in Swansea on the 20th of April 2014 in the afternoon. A venue or location hasn't been finalised as yet but you can use the facebook event to keep up to date with the latest news for Swansea 420 Gathering here:
We're going on a hunt for a location for our meet this weekend so if you have any suggestions on a location for our little get together please comment below or feel free to join the forums or facebook event page to let us know.
Depending on numbers we may have snacks and drinks available. Everyone is welcome. Tell your friends!
We'll also be discussing the details of the Feed The Birds Swansea campaign and may be lucky enough to have some seeds to give out to interested people. Just ask!
What is Feed The Birds?
Many of you may have already heard of it though some of you may not. Feed The Birds is a peaceful campaign to help end cannabis prohibition by spreading hemp seed across the UK by feeding it to the birds. Hemp seed is completely safe for birds to eat and in fact it's fantastically good for them so please don't worry, no animals will be harmed during this protest.
You can find the Feed The Birds facebook page here.
Hemp seed is perfectly legal to be traded and purchased with in the UK and only becomes an issue if you wish to plant it as you need a licence in order to be able to grow hemp.
How Can You Help With Feed The Birds Swansea?
Next month people across the UK will be feeding the birds hemp seed in a bid to help protest against the failing war on drugs. If you're in Swansea and wish to take part you can get involved in our Feed The Birds Swansea post here in the forums and comment on the thread for this event.
There will be a limited amount of hemp seed available for club members though you can guarantee yourself some hemp seed to take part by donating £4 to the Feed The Birds' Kickstarter campaign here and maybe snapping up yourself a gorgeous T-shirt at the same time (£20) or we have been informed that you can get your own hemp seed from here and if asked what for just let them know it's for Feed The Birds or Feed The Birds Swansea.
Disclaimer: Swansea Cannabis Club does not condone and is not responsible for protesters that illegally encourage growth of the seeds which are intended to feed the birds.