The NewLCA! A gearshift change is happening

The changes being mooted a few weeks back in the Legalise Cannabis Alliance seem to have been approved, it now has a leader – Peter Reynolds – and there are some strongly encouraging signs that the long overdue reforms are about to be made. Most of the planned changes are certainly to be welcomed although one is perhaps a bit dubious, but may not be without merit if its done properly.

It can’t be stressed enough how much we need a proper, credible cannabis law reform campaign. The LCA as was had run out of steam years ago and really should have been put out of its misery by now. Still, better late than never.

The most public problem is that the truly awful  image presented by the website reflects badly on the campaign  and this is accepted by the  Peter Reynolds. He wrote on the LCA forum

Let me be crystal clear here, without any personal criticism of anybody, the website is a joke. If we want to stand any chance of making any progress it needs to be radically updated and overhauled.

Peter is absolutely right, but it goes further than that. The LCA website is the public face of the cannabis law reform in the UK – just tap “legalise cannabis” into your favourite search engine and you’ll find it. What you find when you go there could almost have been written by our most vicious opponents as a satire on the cannabis law reform effort, it reflects badly not just on the LCA, but on all of us.

Now that it is accepted that change is needed and indeed promised please, this embarrassment should be taken down. After all the LCA website serves no purpose now, the old campaign is finished and a new, revitalised campaign is to emerge with an entirely different image and message.

What should be done in the interim, while the new campaign is put together is to take the old site offline and replace it with a holding page telling people what’s planned. That way the site stays online and promotes its new image when it’s ready. The holding site could include a forum, but cut down greatly from the present offering and perhaps Peter could link to his blog. This would benefit not just the “NewLCA”, but all of us in the law reform movement.

Apart from the website issue though the promised changes are indeed exciting and a cause for hope. According to Peters blog

There is an exciting new campaign in development on the theme of “Reform. Regulate. Realise”. I am working with Professor David Nutt, Transform and IDMU to ensure the credibility of our message. I promise you will see the details soon

Everything it seems, is up for grabs, even the name is to change and it’s good to know that organisations like Transform and the IDMU are involved along with Professor Nutt, this should ensure the “New LCA” as Peter is calling it (as a working title for now) has an agenda which will be worth taking seriously.

A campaign which focuses on the need to regulate the cannabis trade will have a very powerful appeal, perhaps not so much to cannabis users but to the people who really matter in so-called “middle England”, the vast majority of people who don’t use cannabis and quite possibly don’t much like it, but do agree with the need to properly control what is a massive and highly profitable industry presently largely  in the hands of organised crime.

We are also promised a better image, people well versed in the issues capable of being interviewed by serious news programmes. Transform has done well of course and Steve Rolls has made a name for himself by arguing the general drug  law reform case, but it is about time we had people able to go on Newsnight and put the cannabis specific case for reform against the usual suspects from the prohibition lobby who have had an almost free run up to now. Prohibition is actually very vulnerable to the control and regulate massage, most people know the dangers of the uncontrolled illegal trade created by prohibition, yet somehow the government still manages to promote the cause of the problem by using fear of the mess their own policy has created.

All this is exciting stuff and if it comes off it will be a real game changer. There is a lot of support out there for cannabis law reform – not for “free the weed” but for a properly controlled and regulated trade which actually protects the people at risk. So the proposed changes are not only welcome, but will be actively supported by this site as we at last seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

It will also benefit the many people who use cannabis not for fun but for medical reasons and this is something Peter seems to be well aware of. In the past the medical aspects have been used almost as an excuse to legalise cannabis, perhaps this needs turning round so that the reason to regulate the cannabis trade is to protect and serve these ill people – the same basic message but with a different motivation.

The other development is , well, perhaps less certain to be a good idea. The “NewLCA”, once it’s sorted it’s name and constitution out, is to reform as a political party in order to contest elections. That was the original reason for the formation of the LCA and back in 1998 it was a good idea. It may still work, especially if the message is put clearly and in a way people can actually relate to, but it also carries with it a huge potential danger – not just for the “NewLCA”, but for all of us who want to support the law reform effort.

The reason to stand in elections is to raise the issue in the political arena, to get cannabis law reform onto the agenda and to put it in the news. It’s not an idea without merit but the problem of course is that by standing in elections, you are actually trying to get people to show their support by voting for you. As a single issue party the odds are that it will be difficult to get support in the ballot box; people vote for all sorts of reasons but cannabis is unlikely to be a major consideration really.

What standing in elections can show, in a very public way if you get a small vote, is that you don’t have support for your idea even if you do really but it’s just not a priority at election time. It is all too easy, as has happened in the past, for the cannabis candidate to be ranked alongside the raving loony and that doesn’t help anything. Thing is, would I vote for a cannabis law reform candidate? I’m afraid the answer is probably “no” and if they can’t get someone like me to vote for them its going to be a struggle to be taken seriously.

So much depends on the way this is played, it could be a powerful way to promote the campaign or it could prove a dead end idea and a millstone around out necks. Personally I’m not convinced it’s a good tactic but time will tell.

Those reservations aside though I am more hopeful than ever before that the “NewLCA” will make a breakthrough and move the cannabis law reform debate up a gear. At last, it looks set become something that can be taken seriously. Peter has his work cut out to get all this in place to be ready for the May local elections, which is his target.

But please guys, do something about the LCA website!

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About UKCIA

UKCIA is a cannabis law reform site dedicated to ending the prohibition of cannabis. As an illegal drug, cannabis is not a controlled substance - it varies greatly in strength and purity, it's sold by unaccountable people from unknown venues with no over sight by the authorities. There is no recourse to the law for users and the most vulnerable are therefore placed at the greatest risk. There can be no measures such as age limits on sales and no way to properly monitor or study the trade, let alone introduce proper regulation. Cannabis must be legalised, as an illegal substance it is very dangerous to the users and society at large.

10 comments on “The NewLCA! A gearshift change is happening

  1. Mafficker Freeblood

    Can we please call it Cannabis Law Reform Network or something similar to get away from the misunderstood concept that the law criminalises and regulates human actions and not the cannabis? Pretty please?!

  2. UKCIA Post author

    Er, I do Mafficker Freebood! What they end up calling it though is up to them

    But you’re right, prohibition is people control, not drug control.

  3. Sam

    The most important thing is getting the matter onto the media agenda. Currently the only media outlets paying any attention are BBC 3 (we know how timid they are) and the daily mail (full on propaganda, misinformation and hate). We need the debate to be out there and open, because we have logic and facts on our side.

    Prohibitionists do not want this debate, the number one port of call is fear and lies, never addressing any points raised by advocates of regulation and control.

  4. Doug

    Derek, I understand your reservations about the LCA reforming as a political party, however I must point out that things may change in the near future, allowing people to vote for single issue parties and show their support without wasting their vote – this change is the proposed electoral reform, on which we have been promised a referrendum on may the 5th.

    We have a chance to vote for a move to the alternative vote system, under this system, as I’m sure you are aware, we would be able to rank candidates in order of preference fom first to last. If no candidate recieves more than 50% of the votes then the candidate with the least votes has their votes redistributed according to voters second choices.

    This sounds confusing but the upshot of it is if you place a minority party as your first choice and your preferred “mainstream” party as your second choice it is far, far less likely that your vote will be “wasted” I will admit that there is a possibility that your second choice vote will not be counted but for this to happen the minority party would have to have garnered a significant percentage of the first choice votes – thus showing that support for the issue is strong, win, win no?

  5. Dragon83uk

    This is great news, I can’t wait to see how things are going to change with LCA. Whilst I agree with your point about the implications of the political party issue, remember that by the next election it’s fully possible we could have AV in place. As such, those of us who wouldn’t vote a single issue party as a first choice might quite happily have it down as a second choice. I for one could quite possibly see that having huge implications. Especially considering a lot of people in this country always vote for their “team” at election time. That second or third option could certainly be open for speaking out against particular political opinions rather than giving it to the opposition.

  6. UKCIA Post author

    I’ve added a link to the “Yes to fairer votes” campaign to the UKCIA front page – if you want AV, please get active in that campaign now.

    But it’s important to understand that if you want to vote for a minor party under AV you have to put them #1 otherwise there’s no point.

    If we don’t get AV though, I’m afraid there isn’t much point in standing under FPTP sadly. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket about this, but I think it is being realistic.

  7. tim

    @UKCIA I agree the website must go. There are so many good cannabis sites already all that is necessary is
    a page with links the LCA endorse.

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  9. Dragon83uk

    Cheers for the link, personally I’m already supporting the yes campaign where I can but it’s good to get it out there.

    I do see what your saying about voting for them in the number one spot and I can’t help agree with your initial point. There’s more to who I vote for than this single issue, it’s a big one but unfortunately, not the biggest. As such the best I can hope for is that by voting for them as an alternate choice, it says to the big three (or two depending on perspective!) that this issue is something that’s important to me as a voter. One of the virtues of AV is that politicians need to work harder to get people on side and appealling to the votes of smaller parties could be a great way to do that. I don’t think any sensible person wishes to see a single issue party in the driving seat but making the very public statement could really help. All in all “NewLCA” occupying an alternative postion is a lot less pointless than it first appears.

    Finally I’d have to agree with you that if we remain stuck with FPTP then this whole idea is largely pointless. Any vote for them in the current system would be completely wasted. The main parties can ignore them in much the same way that they currently ignore The Monster Raving Loonie Party.

  10. Declan

    Just a couple of point’s. I dont have much faith alone in one party ponys. I dont beleave they work. Howard Marks as a poster person is a very good example. A perfect person to speak on the cannabis issiue. How did he fair?. Sombody im sure could look it up. Im not knocking any body for trying anything. I wouldnt be so cynical but i dont beleave it worked in the past. You need access to mass media,for fair unbiased logical debates which dont happen often enough. We all know this much already, no?. The recent BBC 3 programmes as an example. Anyone whos read a little Chomsky knows how our Media and Free Press system’s work. It’s important for as much information as possable to be available on the internet, otherwise we be screwed for any inform’d form of free debate. Beyound these walls, in middle England, Ireland etc etc ,conservative Holland. Thats where the War will and can be won. Peace and Pot hav’nt worked im sad too say. Sadly the economic arguments also now more than ever will play an important role. Lots of Capalist lovers out there have knowen it for a long time too. Tides will change, only when big Money says enough is enough. They know that that the general public are tune’in so too speak. Its just taking probly too long for many off us at this point. I have to admit, i havnt much time for all the sites on the net Cannabis related far too many too mention. I’ll wish anyone well on the right road so i wouldnt knock the LCA how could i possably. But one Issiue politricks dont generaly work as the big party just muscle you out as a lonny leftist dead beat trying to win over young voters or some form of Proaganist nonsence, looped over on the BBC or the Mail, like mentioned above. Again we know how this game goes. 15 States in America cant be roung. LEAP are right to be doing for they are doing. Taking the Hippy Lazy Ass stoner out of the picture and showing you former cops and sick people who’ve outed themselves from the Cannabis Closet. Times are are Changing my Friends.

    Peace D.

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