Balmy May night in central London. The cusp of summer. This time last year I could have sworn it was the cusp of an era: that pause between Blair packing his bags and Gordon’s succession. I wonder if we’re in another era now, I’m not sure I feel qualified to quantify such things. The upgrading of cannabis, from class C back to class B, certainly makes me feel like we are though. I actually remember the day it went down to class C. Another of those warm nights on the cusp of summertime. This time a pub in Brighton with some art-student types, someone had left a copy of the Daily Mail on the table. I don’t remember the headline but I remember the photo splash on the front page; a sunny day in a park, some young people smoking a joint. The caption screamed disgrace, the horror of people -young middle class white people!- smoking cannabis mere inches away from impressionable children. Hell in handcart, a hiding to nothing, a country going, very swiftly and quite literally, to pot. Something like that. Anyway, the photo was almost idyllic yet the caption seemed to suggest ones reaction should be horror. It seemed so funny. The contradictory nature of the whole thing and the way it seemed the shrill gatekeepers of the silent “majority” were reduced to pointing their fingers at kids having fun in parks. We scribbled some stuff on the paper and went outside and shared a smoke.
And now, it feels like those voices have prevailed. It’s not just in the obvious symptoms -the resurgence of the Tory party-, it is Labour who, much against the advice of our nations upstanding health-care professionals, have pushed this through. I’m not going out to bat for the pleasures of pot here; hey guess what, stoners are kind of boring and monosyllabic! Drug dealers are often not very nice people! No, it’s just the feeling that the people who grimly trudge through the corridors of power are either in thrall to the whims of middle England’s noisy gatekeepers, or that they themselves might recoil in horror at the sight of people in a park on a sunny day.