Lady Jane’s Lover
If you were to meet me in a social or business situation, my guess is you would probably see me as an ‘average’, middle-aged white guy, a slightly over-weight, grey haired man in his fifties. If you got to know me better you would learn that I have a loving wife, beautiful kids, dog, cats, own my own home etc., at which point you would realise that your initial judgement was mostly right.
I grew up on a council estate in the 80’s, in a single parent family, went to a state comprehensive, was bright enough (and lucky enough) to go to college and eventually get a degree from a good university. This was followed by many years working in industry, helping to find millions of barrels of oil and bring them to market, before having a mid-life crisis and realising the errors of my ways and getting out of the filthy energy business for good!
I’ve never been in trouble with the law (I did get caned at school, back when that was allowed), I found out I was slightly anaemic when I donated blood, I once pulled a drowning girl out of a swimming pool, I finished my degree as the top student in my year and I pay my taxes. Not quite a ‘pillar of society’ but perhaps a good father, husband, friend, neighbour and college, and to all intents and purposes, a good citizen. Or as Dylan might say, ‘I’m a clean-cut kid, and I been to college too’.
But, I suspect, like many of you reading this now, I have a secret. A secret that only my close friends know about. A secret I have had to burden for far too long.
Since my late teens I have been a lover of Lady Jane in all her alluring forms. She has been a constant companion, a delightful friend, and the spice of life!
When I first started my love affair with Lady Jane, I was a coy youth. I hid her from my Mum and family but shared her with all my friends, in every social situation available. It took time for me to learn that she did not like to be abused in that way, intoxicated with Bacchanalian recklessness, she was more spiritual, more zen. Soon I found that there was a group of more discerning lovers of Mary Jane and they were more cerebral, more contemplative, and appreciative of her charms. I gravitated to them and felt released in their presence. Through my relationship with cannabis I was able to find myself as a man, share myself with other, kindred spirits and find a fulfilment that had been unavailable to me anywhere else.
As I moved into my twenties and thirties, the influence of Bacchus diminished, as my love for Mary Jane increased exponentially. Whereas the grape and hop did allow me and my friends to drown ourselves in revelry, they also made us at times angry, at times sleepy, at times depressed. Lady Jane was joy, she provided us with the time and space to learn and grow as individuals and as a group. We learned to love and loved to learn, in Lady Jane’s presence. She opened us to the world of the arts, of science and society, she encouraged creativity and nurtured empathy and compassion where once there was none, or worse, their opposite.
Becoming a father changed many things for me as a man and cannabis was one of them. The ridiculous legal situation in the UK, that forces ‘us’ to seek out shady characters, in shadier locations, to ‘score’ a few grams of cannabis was not really compatible with the new family and professional lifestyle. Luckily, the internet had arrived and I was able to connect with consumers and producers around the World. They were good teachers and very soon I was able to grow my own cannabis. I continue to do that today; it is mostly organic and I am enormously but quietly proud of my flowers.
The information that I was able to discover, once the UK censorship was removed, blew my mind. I could not believe how easy the plant was to grow, how I could use cannabis without tobacco, how I could make sure my herb was clean of chemical and other harmful additives. Before the internet I was simply so naive that I had no idea where the cannabis I used really came from, how it was grown or processed. Worse still, I was naïve enough to imagine that that information was not available because it did not exist, not that it was being actively withheld from me.
Now that the medicinal benefits of cannabis are much better understood things are changing for the cannabis community across the World. In Canada, Uruguay, South Africa, Georgia, and parts of the USA cannabis use for recreational purposes is fully legal, and her use is decriminalised in many, many other jurisdictions. I am beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I look forward to the day that I can bring my plants out into the open, to grow them in sunshine without worrying if the postie spots them in amongst the Dahlias.
I grow cannabis in a small wardrobe, using LED lights. They are beautiful plants and I would love to share my hobby with as many people as I can (I have taught a few others the joys of growing their own) but the plants are hidden away. I am as proud of my plants as a vintner is of his viniculture, as interested in the flavour and bouquet as well as psychoactive effectiveness, as any grower of vegetables would be of his or her most prized onions or chilli peppers.
Today, I still have to hide my cannabis production and consumption from many people. People I work with, family, neighbours, the police! But worst of all, I have to hide my Herb from my kids, for fear that they may say something that unwittingly gets me/them into trouble. They are bombarded with anti-cannabis propaganda from a government that has a very dubious relationship with the facts, not just on the Herb. I am waiting until they are old enough to understand that their Dad breaks the law every day, because the law is an ass. I hope that it will introduce into them the same healthy questioning of authority that understanding the truth behind cannabis has nurtured in me.
The benefits that cannabis can bring to people’s health, physical and mental, the benefits she can bring to the planet in terms of water efficient natural resource, the benefits to livelihoods, in terms of farming, processing, wholesaling and retailing, are increasingly clear. And yet, at the time of writing (Lockdown 2020), it is still impossibly difficult to access medicinal cannabis in the UK, and as cannabis remains a Class B drug, with all the criminal implications, recreational use sometimes seems a long way off. A deceitful political class that lies about cannabis, over-plays the downsides to cannabis use (yes, I know that there are some) clearly has an agenda. (Yes, Theresa May, cannabis does have some benefits to society, you only had to ask your husband. After all, he has placed your own families future financial health in cannabis medicines!)
A tipping point for cannabis acceptance and legalisation in Canada came when lovers of Lady Jane refused to be called criminals and became activists. Instead of bowing to ignorance and prejudice, cannabis activists opened wellness centres, provided cannabis to medical users, informed, and educated, and pursued a campaign of civil disobedience. Many went to prison for their convictions. Activism is the new normal for cannabis in the UK. And although I will be happy with simple decriminalisation, activists will not finish there, next comes legalisation and after that, if records show that the political class underplayed the benefits and overplayed the risks of cannabis, resulting in increased tobacco use and the denial of access to this medicine, I predict class actions to seek redress for the lies told and the possible health implications.
My own personal relationship with Lady Jane is complicated. She can be like a mother to me or an enchantress who hypnotises. Homely and yet exotic. I am never alone with Lady Jane. She always entertains and amuses. It is a healthy, loving relationship, that has guided my mental and spiritual evolution, has made me a better person, and will continue whatever her legal status.
Finally I ask you to consider this. Cannabis is a plant that originates from two or three small geographical areas and its cultivation and use has been banned for large parts of the twentieth century. And yet cannabis is grown on every continent, indoors and outdoors, under the sun and under lights, in soil and in hydroponics, the active ingredients can be synthesized using micro-bacteria, and the global production of herbal cannabis is increasing exponentially. Millions of people benefit from the use of cannabis and hemp plants globally.
Cannabis has been used for thousands of years by millions of people and has hundreds of uses.
The law is an ass.