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UKCIA is one of the oldest – if not the oldest – cannabis law reform websites in the UK. It was set up in 1995 right at the dawn of the internet in the UK by the remaining members of the original LCC, the old “Legalise Cannabis Campaign”. The idea was to put the knowledge and experience gained in running the LCC online for people to use.

Having “CIA” in the name of cannabis law reform campaigns was an in joke at the time for some reason which is how the UK Cannabis Internet Activist site got it s name, but it’s not a bad name and unlike others has stood the test of time. In the spirit of the internet back then UKCIA had a simple mission statement; to tell the truth about cannabis. That seemed an easy thing when it was written, but of course as always it gets messy because the truth sometimes involves things you might not want to hear, but to me that is a strength, not a weakness.

As it happened though UKCIA was in trouble, the people who had set it up wanted to move on and do other things with their lives and the site was left online but no-one was updating it, pretty soon it began to be in need of a re-vamp.

In 1998 an IT bod came on the scene just in time for one of those special days which don’t happen very often, the sort of day wonderful things unfold; in September 1998 a “picnic” in Hyde Park was arranged by Free Rob, a long established campaigner, and we all went down and met up. It was at this picnic was born and a few days later the domain was registered and I became the webmaster. I’ve run UKCIA ever since and I hope I’ve kept it true to the original aims which are to be a library of information about cannabis and to tell the truth about the herb and its culture, warts and all.

For the record I don’t use cannabis any longer, but I have been there and, as they say, got a few of the T-shirts. The growing violence fuelled by organised crime and the ever more sinister police state, both created by prohibition, are trashing our liberties and rights while the other “unintended consequences” of prohibition  tear at the very fabric of society. So Cannabis law reform isn’t something that only cannabis users should support; the disastrous effects of prohibition touch us all.

The UKCIA site is a bit like the government’s anti drugs advertising campaign “Talk to Frank” should be like if it wasn’t first and foremost a propaganda tool. I invite anyone to compare the UKCIA risks section with the information given on Talk to Frank. Whatever you want to know about cannabis UKCIA is the place to come – other than how to grow it which sites like UK420 are quite good at, or where to buy it from because that would be naughty.

UKCIA is a big site, after all it’s had a long time to grow!

It has a huge library of research papers about cannabis which is possibly the biggest collection of cannabis research freely accessible in one place in the UK, it also holds the major acts of Parliament which have created this prohibition mess.

The Culture section is where you can find out about ways to use cannabis, what problems there can be and how to avoid them. It also chronicles the history of cannabis and its role in culture over the centuries, including the cannabis timeline. This section also includes several major features including Pot Culture by Russell Cronin, which is almost a site in itself.

Activism is there to promote anything being done by people or groups as well as running a special campaign of its own called “Tokepure”, aimed at encouraging cannabis users to ditch the foul addictive cancer causing and downright evil weed tobacco.

The industrial section is all about hemp and its uses which is probably the main reason cannabis is prohibited to be honest – cannabis isn’t just dope, it really is rope and much, much more besides.

The medical section looks at the many therapeutic uses of cannabis and holds a database of medical testimonies – this is a subject that deserves not just a website but a whole campaign of its own…

Finally there is a forum and the blog which comments on news and developments.

UKCIA is needed because there is so much misinformation out there, most of it coming from the tabloid press and the government. Prohibition – which is the regime cannabis is subjected to now – is a con and can only be maintained by lies. Even the way they speak about the laws is untrue; prohibited drugs are called “controlled substances”, but controlled is the one thing they are not! So the job of UKCIA is to expose these lies and to provide honest, factual information. Of course that’s going to be a big job – lies are always simple, the truth never is.

Cannabis is a stimulating-hallucinogenic depressant with anti-psychotic properties, it’s not your normal run of the mill drug. It’s a complex substance and isn’t like most other drugs because it’s a plant that gives us more than one active chemical. What this means is the cannabis experience is the result of a blend of active substances and because of this different strains of the plant, which have different amounts of these component parts, interact differently producing different effects on the user. All this is covered on UKCIA and you can dig as deep as you like into what makes cannabis tick, the rich history of its many uses and the dark politics that have lead us down the destructive path of prohibition.

It is true that some of this approach has put UKCIA at odds with certain law reform campaigners over the years. The old mantra was that cannabis is “The harmless herb”, although almost true it was used against the law reform movement with great effect with the reefer madness claims a few years ago, even though these claims were largely based on lies themselves. In reality of course nothing on earth is “harmless” and it was a bit daft to claim cannabis was some kind of magical exception to that rule. But the thing UKCIA has shown is that if you are prepared to look at issues with an open mind, the truth is often not what you’re being told it is. Once the issues are understood it becomes clear that the arguments used to defend prohibition are actually arguments for its abolition.

It’s not hard to show that the real dangers of cannabis are caused by the prohibition policy. Prohibition means no-one really knows what they’re buying, how strong it is or what type it is. Worse, it means street cannabis is often polluted and is sold by some people who are far from nice. All of these problems are caused not by the plant, not by the users, but by the government.

No-one should ever be harmed by cannabis but prohibition does its best to make sure people do get hurt. Prohibition makes it difficult if not impossible to do real science; because the trade in cannabis is illegal it can’t be properly surveyed, so no-one really knows much about what’s going on, how many users there are and how many are toking away on weed sprayed with glass particles. As well as spreading knowledge about cannabis and how to use it safely, UKCIA is also there to expose the dangers caused by prohibition. This of course is something Talk to Frank would never be allowed to do.

Cannabis, whatever they tell you, is not a controlled drug.

Believe it or not increased pollution of supplies and increased uncertainty of strength and variety is regarded a s a measure of “success” by the police and government, which is why the effects of prohibition can be summed up in three words: deliberate harm maximisation. This is why UKCIA exists, please use it because knowledge is power.

UKCIA newsblog will do its best to bring honest information and comment and you can follow UKCIA on Twitter and Facebook

Derek Williams
Contact UKCIA

The legalise cannabis  march, Brixton, 2002