Britain's weed smokers are charitable folk. Over the past year, through events like socials, raffles and dinner parties, private cannabis social clubs around the UK have raised thousands of pounds for charities focusing illnesses that are seen as relevant to weed, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Last month, a high end "medicated" private dinner party in Brighton – which included dishes like Kush Daube of Beef with a potato hash-cake croquette – raised £1,100 for the charity Children with Cancer UK. A London-based club, The London Smoking Club, also raised £1,200 for the charity at another social event in central London.
The cannabis community is rightly proud of its fundraising efforts , but they're now locked into a bit of an awkward confrontation with Children with Cancer UK, which doesn't want to be associated with the devil's lettuce and has asked that its logo be removed from any promotional material.
"We are grateful to everyone who raises money to support Children with Cancer," said a spokesperson. "However, we were alerted to a number of photos on social media featuring our logo that showed inappropriate activity. The photos were taken down at our request, and we offered to reimburse the funds raised, which was declined. We are unable to knowingly associate ourselves with illegal activity."
Over the phone, "DabnKicks" – the organiser of a Sunderland Cannabis Club event that raised £2,500 through a raffle – said, "We go out of our way to fundraise for charity – it's a big stress, and it's a shame we are put to one side and forgotten about. If it was someone raising money in a pub there wouldn't be a problem with it, but while alcohol can cause cancer, cannabis can actually help with it."
When I asked DabnKicks why his charity of choice was Children with Cancer UK, he told me how cancer had affected his life. "My dad passed away in January from melanoma, a type of skin cancer," he said. "And I have two children; I couldn't bear to see them go through what my dad did."
Despite his disappointment, he insists he'll continue to fundraise for the charity, even if he has to donate anonymously, as he just wants the money to reach the suffering young people who need it.
Of course, it's a shame that it has to be this way: the people who make up the "cannabis community" aren't defined by the fact they smoke weed. They're regular people from all walks of life who just happen to consume cannabis, whether recreationally or for medical reasons.
Kitchen Burns, one of the organisers and the head chef behind the high-end charity dinners, told me what the vibe is like at an event: "We always have the best crowd of beautiful people. The one way that I describe our events is 'pure love'. I was emotional at the last one! Raising money for a good cause while everyone is having an amazing time – there has never been any trouble whatsoever."
Greg De Hoedt, Chairman of United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs, gave me a bit of extra context. "Brighton Cannabis Club has been holding events for two years now, which instigated the trend for Cannabis Social Clubs across the UK to follow suit and start making it a regular thing for their members," he said. "The private members club event days and nights range from a group of 30 to up to 250 on some occasions. They vary from quiet and chilled out settings to a more full-on party. Some are also protest-based."
The Brighton Cannabis Club has also been holding an annual "Green Pride" event in recent years, which draws in over 1,500 people from all over the UK. "We know as consenting adults that we shouldn't have to hide away and we shouldn't have to pretend like this isn't part of our lives," said Greg.
The UK's cannabis activist and social scene is growing faster than ever. Over the past two years, over 50 new cannabis social clubs have been registered, and that number is increasing by the month.
Hopefully this ever-growing presence might lead to charities proudly accepting donations from cannabis clubs, as those in weed-legal settings like Colorado already do. If nothing else, Greg pointed out that the rate of growth means there's no going back.
"We certainly have strength in numbers," he said. "And we'll continue to fight for our rights – and we will continue to contribute to society."
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