With all that head-spinning craziness going on in the UK right now over the Brexit, right now might be the perfect moment for an English pothead to enjoy a tasty spliff to take their mind off of things. The only problem is that leaving the European Union could be making it a lot harder for British bud fans to procure anything to roll inside that spliff other than the not wacky variety of tobaccy.
For anyone who’s had their head in a bong the last several days, the Brexit (British Exit) was a referendum held last Thursday that decided whether the United Kingdom would revoke its membership to the European Union. Those who wanted England to get out of dodge believed it would promote the nation’s power and sovereignty, as well as protect its borders, by separating from the immense bureaucracy of the EU. Those who opposed the measure believed that Britain was better off financially and politically if it remained in partnership with other similarly sized countries.
British citizens voted 51.9 percent in favor of the Brexit, meaning the country will leave the European Union. In the wake of the exit, there has been some extreme turbulence in the UK and abroad: Prime Minister David Cameron resigned and the pound plunged to its lowest value in over 30 years, causing a drop in other international markets.
So, what’s that got to do with weed?
A couple of things. For one, the English just lost one of only two ways they have of legally consuming marijuana in their country. As Stuart Harper, Political Liaison Officer for NORML UK, pointed out in a recent blog post, one major way to get legal medical marijuana in Britain is the Schengen certificate, which allows anyone who is prescribed medicine in one EU country to have that prescription honored in another EU country. English cannabis consumers with either a passport or residence in another EU nation could, before the Brexit, use their Schengen certificate to get their hands on some sweet, sweet cannabis medicine, most likely a pharmaceutical extract such as Sativex or Bedrocan.
But after the Brexit, the Schengen certificate don’t mean diddly. That prescription isn’t going to travel across borders, much less the cannabis medicine itself.
The break with the EU is also going to limit the cannabis tourism of the British, particularly those with a criminal drug history. Harper points out that countries such as Holland or Spain (places with coffee and pot shops) sometimes restrict their borders to those with drug history so as to limit attracting cannabis tourism. As EU citizens, English potheads could get around that limitation and travel about as freely as they liked. But now that the UK has cut ties with the rest of Europe, that might not be the case.
Also important to note is that the EU is generally a bit more progressive than the UK. A big reason the Brexit happened in the first place is a growing populist conservative sentiment in England. Away from the liberal influence of the European Union, the English are less likely than ever to have their cannabis laws loosened up. To quote Harper, “The maximum sentence for possession of even 0.01 grams of cannabis remains, officially, 14 years in prison…” Though that maximum sentence is hardly ever issued, it’s still far from a jolly old time for those British who just want a little puff of the green stuff.
Photo vi Flickr user Camilo Rueda López