Recently, I spoke to a man who is probably the closest thing we have to a Robin Hood in the age of coronavirus – music producer and activist, OUTLAW. He's not stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but he is driving around in his van, delivering free weed, toilet paper and hand sanitiser to vulnerable people who can't leave their homes.
Since the interview was published on VICE.com he's had thousands of new requests from people all over the world, and has ramped up his efforts accordingly, continuing to serve the people of his native Manchester, but also sending out "4/20 packs" much farther afield.
So, as today is 4/20, stoner Christmas, I caught up with him again to talk cannabis laws, strains and celebrity weed enthusiasts.
VICE: What sort of reaction have you had since the article came out?
Outlaw: I put one up before your article came out and I had about 1,000 requests. Now, for this one, the 4/20 one, where I've sent out the packs, I had about 6,000 requests. Obviously I can't do everyone, but I did 420.
Why do you think weed should be legal in the UK?
In my opinion, it already is – that's how I act. The UK is the biggest exporter of cannabis [based medicines] in the world, but it's still illegal. I'm not allowed to grow it, but [the pharmaceutical industry] can. This plant, cannabis, was here before humans, before governments, before rules and all of that. Now they've put a law on it. A law on a natural plant that has never killed anyone and is legally grown here and exported. It's a personal choice to smoke cannabis, and the government shouldn't get involved. Other places – like the Netherlands, Canada and some states in the US – they have legalised or decriminalised it, we're just well behind. Alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than cannabis, so what are we doing?
How are you celebrating 4/20?
For 4/20 we were making packs. We had 6,000 requests for bud packs, I had 15 ounces, 420 grams, so it was one gram each. Boom, boom, boom – 420 packs. Sent it off into different letterboxes scattered about. So, hopefully, today people will have gotten their smoke in the post and we'll all have a little 4/20 at home.
Any particular strains that you deal with, or…
What I give out is all the stuff that I grow. You can let me know what you think about it, send me an emoji in the DMs.
Hypothetical situation: you're on death row, you're about to be executed and you are offered one last opportunity to get high in any way you want. How would you approach it?
Am I allowed to grow my own crop? I would take my time, grow my crop. That would take about six or seven weeks – and during that I'd be thinking about how to get out of there. I wouldn't be having my last smoke. Nah, nah, nah – I'd find a way out.
Another hypothetical situation: a Tory politician got in touch because they really needed a spliff and they were locked down. Would you consider sorting them out?
Well, with any politician, check this… [produces sheets of paper covered in printed names] – these are the people who clapped after blocking a pay rise for nurses. If it's any of these people, yeah, they aren't getting anything. The rest? It would depend on their policies and what they voted for.
If you could get stoned with any celebrity, who would it be?
There are so many sick answers to this, but Seth Rogen. It's got to be someone who you are going to sit there with and be able to chill with for a long time. I'd be able to chill with Seth Rogan for days, weeks.
Do you think that cannabis will be legal in the UK in the next five years?
The problem with five years is that Parliament takes ages to pass laws about stuff that doesn't restrict our freedom. So if it's restricting our freedom they bring in the law, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. All sorted, passed like that. But if we want to decide on stuff, if we wanted to have a democratic vote, that takes ages.
But decriminalising it? Durham has done it [Durham Police no longer go after people for smoking or growing small amounts of cannabis] – you can go over to Durham and smoke a little spliff; the police don't come over, and they save loads of money. All the politicians say they are bothered about the economy, but check this one: £1 billion a year goes to prosecuting weed-related offences [a Times investigation found that, from 2015 to 2019, UK taxpayers had spent £2.5 billion to keep people convicted of cannabis-related offences behind bars].