Dedicated to delivering the truth about cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs, STEM are an independent organisation, whose mission is to challenge the widely accepted stigma and misinformation around the subject.
The idea began with 2 childhood friends, who after much research into cannabis, its regulations and its history, came to fully understand how it became an illicit drug, and what motivates many governments into sustaining this prohibition. Being inspired by this newfound knowledge, they have created a brand that aims to share this information and awareness.
We got in touch with one of STEM’s founders to find out more about their work, and here is their insightful message…
‘We dream of a world without prohibition’ is the vision behind STEM. But where did the name ‘STEM’ come from and what does it stand for?
We decided to use the name STEM as we wanted to outline the fact that, in today’s society, the way we treat drug policies, is a problem. Therefore it seemed appropriate that we are focusing on where this issue has stemmed from, and so the name was born. It just so happens that the STEM of a plant is also the part that transports nutrients from the soil into the flowering parts; this seems suitable as we too are trying to deliver valuable nutrients in the form of information and enlightenment, to the public.
STEM was founded by 2 childhood friends who had a social, casual relationship with cannabis. After much research over the years, and now creating a Brand which aims to spread this knowledge and awareness, what is the most interesting thing you learnt about cannabis (something you may not have realised before)?
We have learnt so much about cannabis during our research you wouldn’t believe. It’s funny, we always discuss the fact that as children we were told all these scary myths and ghost stories about the dangers of cannabis, and we never questioned them. We still used cannabis as we were at the age where; your health comes second to having a good time. But to grow up, access the Internet’s wealth of knowledge, and find out the truth that cannabis is not the evil poisonous substance it was made out to be, was an incredible revelation for both of us. Apart from the general realisation that cannabis isn’t as harmful as they say, the existence of the endocannabinoid system in the body that has receptors specifically made to interact with THC, is a pretty incredible fact I learnt.
Do you think the drug is banned in the UK solely due to capitalist ideology and for monetary advantages? Or do you think that there is an element of social welfare attached to the reasoning behind its ban?
In the UK it seems to be less to do with capitalism and more to do with the stigma attached to cannabis, which has been so stubborn. In the USA, capitalism has a hold on every aspect of life, including the prison systems and pharmaceutical industry. This is the perfect environment for cannabis laws to thrive as there are so many rich corporations with so much to gain from keeping cannabis use, distribution and possession, a punishable offence. In the UK however our public sector has a larger part to play in these areas, so capitalism is not interfering as much. The harsh stigma around cannabis use is a side effect of years or propaganda fuelling ‘The war on drugs’. This has been a huge influencer in society’s wider opinion of cannabis, this being the case, no political party in the UK would risk that level of unpopularity when in power to stand up and do what is right. But there are many other social and economic factors involved when assessing the way the UK structure their laws, sadly, none of the drug laws seem to take into account scientific evidence and mortality rates as factor.
Cannabis has been a topic of discussion in terms of legalisation and decriminalisation. What are your thoughts on each of the matters and what do you think might be the best solution?
I believe that decriminalization should not be the end goal, legalisation should. Under decriminalisation, fines and civil penalties will still be dealt out for doing something I believe should carry no penalty what so ever. That being said; in the current political climate I see no legalization without decriminalisation, in many countries. So it may just be a route we have to take. I think many politicians are realising they cannot keep up the facade for much longer, not with the Internet exposing all the myths about cannabis. So we will look towards a route that is easiest for us to explain the decades of lies behind us.
What do you think is one of the most misunderstood beliefs/ideas about cannabis, that society faces?
There are too many issues to name. I think the biggest problem with the cause at the minute is how seriously it is taken. People brush legalization off and say things like “why do you want to get high so badly?” well firstly the cause is not in aid of recreational use only, people are suffering and even dying as a cause of cannabis prohibition. Over 75,000 people have died in the drug war in Mexico; thousands more die from overdose deaths in America from prescribed pharmaceuticals that could be substituted with cannabis. Many thousands more rot away in prisons serving harsh sentences for possessing what is essentially a plant that has never directly cause a single human fatality. Once we can all agree the world is a much better place without cannabis prohibition, we can move on. The American states that have legalised in 2016 will show the rest of the world, that society does not collapse into mayhem when people are freely given the choice to consume cannabis.
What future plans and ideas do you guys have for the Brand?
At the minute, we are just trying to focus on building a bigger following on social media and getting people involved in our content. Big things are happening in the world of cannabis, and we are hoping to involve ourselves in this as much as possible. In the near future we are hoping to get ourselves to a few cannabis-based events around the UK and start up a conversation with some like-minded people.
To find out more visit stem-online.org or follow @stem_online on Instagram for some interesting posts!