Cannabis Campaigner Interview: Alun Buffry

Alun Buffry, 64, BSc Chemistry

Author: Cannabis: Legalise and Utilise (out of print)

From Dot to Cleopatra (History of Ancient Egypt)

Out of Joint: 20 Years Campaigning for cannabis

Co-author of “Cannabis: Challenging the Criminal Justice System” along with Don Barnard

Co-founder Campaign to Legalise Cannabis International Association (CLCIA) 1992

Co-founder, National Coordinator, Nominating Officer of Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) 1999

LCA contested about 80 UK elections 1999 to 2005 and became a pressure group 2006 to 2011 when he acted as treasurer

Since 2011 Independent Activist focusing on cannabis and drug prohibition

Member of Normal UK and ENCOD

Webmaster of Cannabis Campaigners’ Guide

Blog: Alun Buffry


Good evening, my friends. We had the great pleasure to speak to Alun Buffry, author, poet, scientist and cannabis activist.

Hi, Alun, thank you for the opportunity to speak and learn more about you. There are lots of people who support legalisation but most of them prefer not to do that in public. What did provoke you to become cannabis activist?

Alun Buffry: I was arrested and sent to prison for ten years for conspiracy to import and supply cannabis in 1991, I did about 4 and a half.  Whilst I was initially on remand a local acquaintance Jack Girling came to visit me in prison and said that he wanted to start a legalise cannabis campaign as he was not happy with the LCC at that time. When I was initially arrested dozens or houses and businesses were searched, including his. So when I got out after the high courts ruled I had been kept in too long without trial, I helped Jack and 10 others to form the CLCIA – Campaign to Legalise Cannabis International Association. I helped until I was convicted and again when I was released on parole.
 Previous to that I had from the first time I came across cannabis felt that it ought never have been illegal and that it was of benefit to me and others.

My campaigning for repeal of cannabis laws, the removal of cannabis from the UK Misuse of Drugs Act and an end to the prohibition of drugs is based upon my understanding of our Human Rights to a Private Life and for each to his/her own belief and practice of belief, for Justice (No Victim No Crime) and the duty of care of our Government to protect consumers and reduce harm.

I co-founded the LCA with the aim of providing a platform for campaigners and bringing forward debate and public awareness.

You`ve probably guessed this question but how did you come across cannabis?

Alun Buffry: At University in 1968 although I never smoked it until 1970 – first I drank coffee bhangs.

Probably you have seen different cases of injustice as a result of the prohibition during the years. Is there a case that you will never forget? A case that motivated you to continue the fight for legalisation?

Alun Buffry: Several spring to mind, probably the cases against the Late Biz Ivol, also the THC4MS people Lezley and Mark Gibson and Marcus Davies – and the Worthing Coffeeshops case with Chris Baldwin and Winston Matthews – they all needed cannabis for health reasons. I remember them all – also cases that I read about where people are hung in Malaysia etc. I feel strongly about and that would keep me fighting whatever happens in the UK.

Is there discrimination towards cannabis users with police records? Have you seen such cases?

Alun Buffry: Yes, a great deal – usually they would be unable to work in education or around vulnerable people, join the police force – many other jobs including driving and jobs in social services – sometimes discrimination where crime if seen automatically as dishonesty.

Some insurance companies for property have refused policies.

Entry to US, Australia and other countries may be restricted.

Lots of people are thinking “No point fighting the prohibition. The authorities do what they want”. What is your biggest achievement as activist and how people can contribute to cannabis activism?

Alun Buffry: Three things spring to mind. Forming the LCA and getting people to stand in about 80 elections. Speaking with the Basque Government through ENCOD – they seem to have listened to my recommendations for full legalisation. 
The Labour Government response to the LCA, and to “The Challenge” – it helped lead to downgrading.

Excellent opportunity to ask you about Howard Marks (Mr Nice) and your relationships and collaboration during CLCIA and LCA period.

Alun Buffry: I met Howard in 1996, at a cannabis event in London, and asked him, first in private and then in public, if he would be willing to stand for Parliament – he agreed on condition that it would be on the single issue of legalisation which was just what we, the CLCIA, wanted. We had formed in 1992 with the intention of putting up candidates that year, but we changed our mind as people wanted to try to get a change of Government. Howard stood in Norwich South against Charles Clark who was to become a Labour Party Home Sec years later. Howard also contested Norwich North, Southampton Test and Neath – he got between 1 and 1.6%.

I met Howard again in Norwich in 1997 and helped run his election campaign from a shop I opened – “Paradox Delights” to promote the cause.

I had read Mr Nice by then, and realized I had actually met Howard when he had come to Norwich to meet Donald Nice and get the passport (Donny now dead, then pronounced his name “neice” like the French city).

After we formed the LCA in 1999, Howard spoke at the first two party conferences.

I have seen him many times since, always found him friendly with everyone – an extremely knowledgeable and experienced man with whom I related on many levels, such as our views on cannabis and the law, our Welsh origins, our University introduction to cannabis: he in Oxford, myself in Norwich and that we had bot been to prison for cannabis “offences”.

But although he does his own thing and plays a major part in the campaign, he was never an official member or candidate.

You have been cannabis activist for years. Do you think the attitude towards cannabis has changed during the years?

Alun Buffry: Absolutely – we did a local survey in 1992 and just 15% supported legalisation of cannabis.

What is the society`s biggest “fear” about cannabis legalisation?

Alun Buffry: Thanks to media hype – mental health problems.

Is UK close to legalisation?

Alun Buffry: No, I do not think so. I think closer to decriminalisation of possession or making it some sort of civil offence with a fine.

What is the difference – how might we distinguish – between the recreational use of cannabis and the medical?

Alun Buffry: I believe that there is no true distinction between cannabis users – the medical – recreation distinction is false = and that the only difference is in urgency of need for people suffering terrible conditions – that cannabis should be available free for those with such conditions, including oil.

The recreational very largely is the medicinal, the medicinal the recreational. We are aware, for instance, nowadays, that cannabis can contribute valuably to the treatment of nausea, chronic pain, asthma, multiple sclerosis and various other ailments. Yet to affirm this baldly could conceivably mislead, by obscuring more subtle propositions. We might be truer to our cause if we began with the proposition that cannabis is a mode of self-medication. Animals, we hear, self-medicate by digesting plants and other matter. And so possibly with human beings: many if not most cannabis users (so some researchers believe) are intuitively medicating themselves for stress and/or depression. Which is a way of saying that the cannabis user is not for the most part a person in quest of a ‘high’, or seeking consciously the cure for an ailment, but a human being searching intuitively for recreation: the re-creating of himself (or herself). This might all seem, and in fact in part obviously is, hypothetical: the jury is still out where self-medication is concerned. For all that, what is at stake here is an issue we cannot and should not ignore. The cannabis user does himself and his cause no favours – the established opposition being what it is, an embattled force led by people with a propensity to simplistic thought – if he himself understates the complexity and subtlety of his essential purposes. His theme ought to be that the line between the medical and recreational use of cannabis is blurred, and probably non-existent.

What do you think about the paradox that cannabis in UK is illegal but cannabis seeds are legal as souvenirs. Most big cannabis seed banks and shops are UK based. Business? 

Alun Buffry: Seeds are legal because the law focuses on THC and they contain none to speak of, and also because of their uses mainly as a food for birds or a fish bait – now they always have been a vital source of nutrition for adults too, for many hundreds of years until about 100 or so years ago in the UK: In the US when “marijuana” prohibition was born, the seed companies had such a way that seeds were exempted.

Anglers generally germinate the seeds to use as bait (believe it or not Roach fish love it!) – it is illegal to cultivate but not to germinate without intent to cultivate!!  Weird.

Production and sale of cannabis seed is now massive and widespread: Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Canada, Australia – probably many other countries, now producing and marketing seeds to grow to produce a smoke, whilst China produces them to be used to grow hemp.

One point to make: it’s not cannabis (drugs) that is illegal – it is the human act of possession, cultivation and supply that is unlawful without a license that is almost impossible for people to get. Likewise it is not the seeds that are banned, it is the unlicensed cultivation.

Can you get a license for cannabis cultivation in UK?

Alun Buffry: No, I doubt whether I can but GW Pharmaceuticals and some universities have licenses: Hempcore and maybe others are licensed to grow “low-THC” hemp.

Is there anything else you would like to share with Autoflower Portal readers?

Alun Buffry: I believe cannabis should be available for all adults that so wish to grow and to buy.

The believe in Freedom of Choice

Thank you very much for your time and cooperation, Alun. It was a real pleasure to talk to you.

Best of luck with your mission, we support you  :Woodstock:

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