Adverts for an illegal cannabis brand, spotted in London, demonstrate the ‘huge demand’ for the plant in the UK, say campaigners.
UK cannabis advocates have reacted to adverts for an illegal cannabis start-up – known as Dispenseroo – which have been spotted across London in recent weeks.
The company, which plays on the branding of food delivery giant Deliveroo and sells high- THC cannabis products online, is said to have plastered thousands of unauthorised adverts for its services across the London Tube network and on billboards.
Those behind the campaign reportedly told Vice World News that in the weeks since the campaign they have been ‘swamped with orders’ and are now selling up to £50,000 worth of products a week.
Have any Londoners seen these?https://t.co/kMGwA2L1AF— Sarah Sinclair (@sarahlsinclair_) September 16, 2022
Campaigners say the response demonstrates the ‘huge demand’ for cannabis in the UK and how ‘ineffectual’ and ‘futile’ government attempts at prohibition are.
Meanwhile, the stunt has also led to calls for a similar campaign to increase awareness around the legality of medical cannabis in the UK, which has been available via private prescription since November 2018.
Peter Reynolds, the founder and chair of CLEAR and a member of the UK Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) executive committee, described the situation as ‘laughable’.
“The fact of Dispenseroo’s existence simply demonstrates what a huge demand there is for cannabis and how ineffectual and futile are the government’s attempts to ban it,” he told Cannabis Health.
“It’s laughable that our government spends £500 million every year on trying to enforce its cannabis ban and yet a website like this can set up and promote itself like this.
“I suppose the existence of this sort of website does help our cause because it shows that the government achieves nothing from its policy.”
Legalisation is ‘inevitable’
Mr Reynolds continued: “Nothing the government does is going to stop millions of people consuming cannabis every day. Most people rely on friends or friends of friends as their supplier, but inevitably one or two levels up in the supply chain are the gangsters where violence, child exploitation and abuse are the norm. People can best protect themselves by only obtaining cannabis from a trustworthy source. A responsible government would take steps to facilitate this.
“All that is achieved by the unworkable ban is to give the trade to criminals, with all the consequent effects of violence, selling to minors, no quality control, contaminated products and links to dealers who may offer heroin, crack and methamphetamine.
“Current drugs policy achieves exactly the opposite of what is intended. In fact, the greatest supporters of cannabis staying banned are the dealers because it’s the government that keeps them in business. The government and the gangsters are on the same side.”
Mr Reynolds has campaigned for cannabis reform for decades and believes it is only a matter of time before it is legalised and regulated in the UK, as is increasingly happening in countries across the world.
He added: “It is inevitable that cannabis will be legally regulated in the UK, just as it is throughout most of the USA and now in Malta and Luxembourg.
“The Netherlands is introducing a legal supply chain to coffeeshops, and Germany is about to become the biggest legal cannabis market in the world.
“Every minute our government delays this is more cash shovelled into the pockets of organised crime, more cannabis sold to children, more dangerous, contaminated products consumed by British people.”
Awareness of medical cannabis
The Dispenseroo campaign has also led to calls for more awareness around the legality of medical cannabis in the UK.
Despite the legislation changing almost four years ago, a recent survey conducted by Mamedica found that more than 80% of UK residents were not aware that cannabis flower was available on prescription.
Katya Kowalski, head of operations for drug reform organisation Volteface, shared a link to an article on the Dispenseroo advert on Twitter, commenting: “We need this sort of advertising for the legal medical cannabis market in the UK.”
We need this sort of advertising for the legal medical cannabis market in the UK.https://t.co/K7VmpDAdmJ— Katya Kowalski (@KowalskiKatya) October 4, 2022
Mr Reynolds confirmed that the CIC is currently planning its own advertising and PR campaign to increase awareness of the legality of medical cannabis in the UK.
“There is extremely low awareness of the fact that cannabis is available legally in the UK, so increasing that awareness is very important,” he said.
“The more people who are asking their GPs about medical cannabis the more the message will percolate up.”
However, he cautioned that the approach would have to be very ‘generic’ to avoid breaching any MHRA guidelines on the advertising of unlicensed medicines and that cost may be an issue.
“We have to be very careful and our approach would be very generic, but something along the lines of ‘Medical cannabis – are you eligible?’ is perfectly legal,” he added.
“The problem is that this kind of advertising is extraordinarily expensive and I’m not sure that the cannabis industry as it stands can come up with that sort of money.”
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