Corruption and lies. You can smell them all over the place with regard to the cannabis laws. Prohibition of cannabis was born not through any real concern to protect public health, but by people motivated by racism and greed. This is all a matter of historical record and UKCIA has the story of how cannabis became illegal in the History section or Russell Cronin’s “Pot Culture” – look out for names such as William Randolph Hearst and Harry J. Anslinger. Money and the giving of it has long been a large part of the way laws have been made and empires built.

Corruption is absolutely corrosive for the democratic process and it should never, ever be tolerated. Of course, real life isn’t like that and we’ve come to accept “The old boys network” and the concept of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. But the news today of a newspaper “sting” against Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas  has perhaps opened the door ever so slightly into the murky and unsettling world of British political corruption.

Peter Crussas

Corruption - Peter Cruddas

The story is attracting a lot of press interest as indeed it should, because it shows that all you need to get the UK government to bend the laws in your favour is £250,000. A quarter of a mill gets you a chat with Dave – not Dave as the Prime Minister you understand, just Dave when he’s off duty having a dinner so nothing  has to be recorded in any silly “meetings with ministers” logs, it’s all confidential and stuff.

Now of course, what you would expect to happen has happened; Dave is shocked and demands an investigation. Of course, this could never happen, oh no. Mr Cruddas said after he had been caught:

Clearly there is no question of donors being able to influence policy or gain undue access to politicians. Specifically, it was categorically not the case that I could offer, or that David Cameron would consider, any access as a result of a donation. Similarly, I have never knowingly even met anyone from the Number 10 policy unit.

Sadly, he said that after he had been recorded saying

“Two hundred grand to 250 is premier league … what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners.

“You do really pick up a lot of information and when you see the prime minister, you’re seeing David Cameron, not the prime minister. But within that room everything is confidential – you can ask him practically any question you want.

“If you’re unhappy about something, we will listen to you and put it into the policy committee at No 10 – we feed all feedback to the policy committee.”

So no, clearly this could never happen, ever. Yeah, right.

So just how widespread is this sort of thing and how much of the insane drug laws we have are due to this sort of under the counter palm greasing? There are of course an awful lot of rich and powerful people who would lose a lot of money from the end of prohibition – from the pharmaceutical industry, the security industry, the brewers… the list is indeed long.

Now of course, no-one (well, not me) is trying to say it’s all the Tory party that play this game, they’re probably all at it, although it is a little odd how the Prime Minister, his chancellor and the Mayor of London were all rich mates at university and members of the same exclusive Bullingdon Club of Oxford University, famous for trashing restaurants. Clearly they all got to where they are now through merit and hard work, the fact they all know each other is co-incidence, nothing more.

Perhaps all this explains the strange attitude of Health Minister Anne Milton toward the idea of running a safer use campaign aimed at cannabis users to discourage the use of tobacco? Despite being an obvious and very simple harm reduction measure the minister is solidly against the idea, as I reported on this blog a few months ago. I’m hard pushed to think of a reason for the minister to claim that

If, as Mr Williams suggests, we were to advocate that people smoke cannabis without tobacco, we would be … putting people at risk of harm.

Other than she is trying to protect a mates commercial insterest. Perish the thought.