On our continued journey into Northern England we arrived in county Durham to meet the Teeside Cannabis Club.
The Teeside cannabis club have played an important part in raising awareness of the medicinal properties of the Cannabis Sativa L plant, they hold regular (alcohol free) events and support patients in the local community. They believe in having open dialogue with local police forces and have done just that providing the local Cleveland and Durham police forces with information for the last two years.
Many people credit Ron Hogg’s and county Durham’s forward thinking on cannabis to be the result of this information and the bridge built between local cannabis communities and their respective police forces. For those that don’t know Ron Hogg, he is the recently re-elected Police commissioner for Durham, who last summer, after meeting with local cannabis clubs came out and effectively decriminalised personal grows:
“We are not prioritising people who have a small number of cannabis plants for their own use. In low level cases we say it is better to work with them to put them in a position where they can recover.”
Interviewing Teeside Cannabis Club:
Q1.What was your first experience with cannabis?
T: “After a stressful day of work I went back to the digs where there were lads who did smoke, had one puff on one of their joints and I had the best night sleep ever.”
Q2. When did you first view cannabis as a medicine?
T: “The whole time as a medicine. That first night when I was pain free. I use cannabis for my condition. I have a degenerative disc disease, I have spondylitis in my neck and suffer from depression. Doctors gave me every painkiller available, they made me quite sick and angry. Cannabis sorts out my pain and has extended my working life.”
Q3. When was the Teeside Cannabis Club formed?
T: “John Holiday started the group we came together in 2014 and it has snowballed from there. We came at it from the same angles.”
Q4. How does the TCC support patients in the local community?
T: “We support them with information, we talk to them and offer advice on growing, cultivation and how to make cannabis medicine.”
Q5. Do you feel as an adult there is need to educate the youth on cannabis?
T: “It’s not just the youth, its adults too, everyone across the board. If more people realised what a massive resource this plant is then it would be legalised in no time”
Q6. What has been the most interesting result you have seen locally from someone using cannabis as a medicine?
T: “Zero-Dark Thirty (9%CBD 4.5%THC) extract mixed with coconut oil. I gave freely to one lass with colitis, another with crohn’s disease and two lads with epilepsy. The results were amazing. The two lasses were pain free and one of the lads stopped a seizure immediately after using this medicine.”
Q7. What would you like to see more of from the other cannabis clubs in the UK?
T: “I like what Dundee are doing at the minute. A shopfront and good information. The locals there can learn all about cannabis and how it can help people in their communities.”
Q8. Do the Teeside Cannabis Club have any events planned in the future?
T: “Yes we have the Canna Campfest. An alcohol-free social event, the first openly pro cannabis event (in its second year) actively working with the local police.”
Q9. What strains are currently being grown by the TCC?
T: “Zero-dark thirty, Star tonic, Chemdawg, Blue dream and agent orange.”
Q10. What advice would you give to someone who had never heard of cannabis as a medicine?
T: “Do your research. It is as simple as that. Ignorance is a choice. Every human has an endo-cannabinoid system.”
Q11. Do you believe it’s wrong that local cannabis club has to support patients where governments will not?
T: “Yes and No. It is wrong that our Government restricts this but at the same time its allowing community care to flourish. Cannabis has become a local resource where the recreational supports the medical.”
Q12. What message would you give to aspiring cannabis clubs?
T: “Stop trying to learn the ropes and start talking to your local police force as the Teeside has been doing for the last two years with the Cleveland and Durham forces. We contacted Ron Hogg when he first had success in cleaning up Seaham of drugs by treating it as a health issue and not a criminal one. Cannabis clubs can be the bridge between the community and the police. They can discuss harm reduction and exchange info and medical research.”
Q13. The Durham Police force have obviously set a precedent with their stance on cannabis. What is your view on your local police force in terms of how they are viewing cannabis?
T: “Ron Hogg is getting it all right! The figures stand for themselves. Last year Ron introduced the policy of acting on complaints only. Since then, Durham has become the only outstanding police force in the country. The ‘hands off approach’, if you will, is paying dividends. This approach can allow much needed police funds to be directed to far more serious crime.”
Q14. How big a role do you see the North East playing in the cannabis debate?
T: “With a PCC who recognises the medicinal benefits of cannabis and is also a big supporter of decriminalisation, I see the north east as being central. Durham constabulary’s approach can allow somewhere like Durham to become a safe haven for those in desperate need.”