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Is this the ‘endgame for the war on drugs’?

20 May, 2019 — By The Xtra Diary

Mr Nice in Noel Street, Soho

IS the end of cannabis prohibition one step closer?

Diary asks this question as we note the opening of a new cannabis-related shop this week in Noel Street, Soho.

Is it another marker of the global sea change in how people consider the plant and its uses?

Called Mr Nice, it’s a trendy boutique that is one step up from the headshops of old: as well as selling branded streetwear with a logo blazing its way across the chest, the shop specialises in a range of cannabis-related products, including CBD oils which can be used for a variety of ailments as well as for the chill.

Mr Nice is named after Howard Marks, the Welsh-born, Oxford-educated dope smuggler who won notoriety for running a global trade in herb.

He was eventually nicked by America’s Drug Enforcement Administration and served part of a 25-year sentence. When he came out he told his story through an autobiography, Mr Nice, and turned his attentions to political campaigning to “Free the Weed”, while also embarking on speaking tours where he’d tell his dope stories, mix it with a bit of radical philosophy, and further the self-created image that he was somehow a pot-head Che Guevera.

Cannabis-related products are on sale in the new shop in Soho

He died in 2016 but his daughter Amber, who is involved in the shop, is carrying the flaming torch he lit.

Co-partner Xan Morgan told Diary the brand started five years ago.

“We are a group of friends who have all had an active interest in cannabis for many years,” he says. “We have now reached a point where it isn’t breaking a taboo to say so. The world is waking up to a new, fresh outlook at the war on drugs.”

He described how the shop represents the move to have a different approach to drugs policy internationally.

With many states in the USA now allowing the cultivation and possession of cannabis and the Canadians going the same route, many believe changes are inevitable in the UK too.

The legislative journey around drug abuse in Portugal has provided further evidence that the legalisation of drugs makes for a more healthy, better-informed society that is less likely to have drug-related public health problems. Xan added: “We want to see a change in approach to cannabis in the UK, focusing on the medical side as well as lifestyle cannabis.”

He also believes decriminalisation would have other positive effects.

Howard Marks in 2000. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“There is a huge amount of tax for the state to make from the sale of cannabis,” he said. “There is currently a black market worth in excess of £8billion a year in the UK. Taxes from this could be spent on health education.”

Mr Nice’s products come from a firm established five years ago called Equinox, which is what they call a “land to brand” cannabis firm. They are licensed to cultivate the herb which they then use to produce CBD oils. Much is grown in Austria on land that is EU-certified organic.

There are cannabis shops already in London, one can be found in Camden Road, and Xan says he believes a dam is about to break.

“I really hope this is the endgame for the war on drugs,” he adds.

“By changing the law, the state can ensure users are getting better product quality. People need to know what is in the products they buy.”

The shop is packed with accessories, from specially made Indian chillums to Californian ceramic bongs.

They even have a range of cannabis bath bombs.

“We’re not making any medical claims about what we sell,” says Xan. “Just read people’s testimonials and judge for yourself.”

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