In 2018, UK weed became a topic of conversation across the nation and not just in underground circles, thanks to a surge in the popularity of CBD products and the government's decision to legalize medical cannabis.
By the UK government's own statistics, cannabis is the most widely used drug in the country with an estimated 2.4 million UK weed consumers in the year 2017 - 2018 (3.6% of the population). The British Isles have a long association with cannabis - from the days of Henry Vlll when it was illegal not to grow hemp if you farmed land, to 19th Century 'wonder drug' claims by Victorian physicians, right through to its association with the counterculture in the 20th Century.
Not a great climate for growing outdoors, UK weed growers have fully embraced the innovations which have made indoor growing so successful since the 1990s, the scene fuelled by opportunities to buy cannabis seeds over the internet. As a result, the country boasts a sophisticated home grow scene that is highly knowledgeable and receptive to new technology and growing methods.
Paradise Seeds has a long (and very happy!) association with the UK cannabis scene that goes right back to the mid Nineties. Many UK growers now buy cannabis seeds online, but pre-internet they bought mail order via Paradise Seeds ads in cult comic Viz - home to such classic (and totally un-PC!) characters as Cockney Wanker and Roger Mellie, the Man on the Telly.
Cannabis Cups R Us! Paradise Seeds is one of the most decorated seed companies in history and we've been winning cups since 1998 - over 40 of them to date! Winning a high profile double (High Times and Highlife cups) in 1999 with Sensi Star catapulted Paradise on its trajectory as an internationally renowned seed bank and we have been grabbing silverware all over the world since.
We continue this rich tradition with a visit to the UK this month as a sponsor of the exclusive Secret Session Cannabis Cup (find out more on Instagram) on February 16th/17th, which takes place in the north of England. It's an event that we are very excited about attending because it will host the cream of the crop - quite literally!
We will show our support with a stand where we will be meeting up with old contacts and making new friends on the scene to talk seeds and green results in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse. And we can't wait!
The Secret Session is an exclusive event that has developed a reputation as the place to be seen for cannabis advocates and those involved in the UK growing scene. Celebrity fans include former heavyweight boxing champion Shannon Briggs and music stars Mist and IAMDDB.
The focus is of course is the judging of the finest green samplings in flower and extract form in four categories - Best Flower, Diamonds, Shatter and Hash. Paradise Seeds will be represented over the weekend and our own special entry is a sensational Californian Gold extract made by Exercise Less from Warwickshire County Highgrade (find them on Insta!).
We will also be helping judges with their very difficult (but much envied!) task, by providing them with Paradise Seeds goodie bags, filled with samples from Amsterdam's finest seed selection and some scrumptious Space Cookies inspired edibles whipped up by our good mates at Spacemonkeyedibles! And, we’ll be joining you at many more Cup events later this year! We are teaming up with good friends and real pro growers for different larger and smaller Cups in 2019.
As the name suggests, it's a secret session so tune into your underground railway connections to book yourself what will be a super hot ticket to this special event! Following the SSCC we will be participating in The Spannabis Champions Cup but, we are also pleased to be appearing at smaller cup events this year such as the Feira e as Mille Flores in May. We will keep you informed of our cannabis cup movements as the year progresses.
UK Weed: Cannabis Social Club Network
Despite the recent advances towards the downscaling of the stigma associated with UK weed, legal recreational cannabis remains off the menu for the significant number of UK consumers. As well as prompting a home growing revolution, issues with criminal association and the risk of buying from the street that are linked to prohibition, has seen the rise of a UK cannabis social club movement.
A network of social clubs exists throughout the UK , many represented by UK Cannabis Social Clubs, a non-profit organization. It campaigns for legalization and represents private membership clubs for adult medical and recreational use - a safe place to consume cannabis with other users.
The UK weed social club scene attracted media attention in the run up to the country's legalization, when Derbyshire's Police Crime Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa, experienced the social club environment first hand. "I was sceptical about this before I came," he told the Victoria Derbyshire porgramme.
"What I've heard is they appear to be making a difference in terms of how people don't go on the street and get more targeted and become more vulnerable." A handful of PCCs from other regions (North Wales, Durham, West Midlands, Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset) also gave an opinion that they didn't believe social clubs should be criminalised.
While legalization for recreational use is off the table for now, UK weed users are definitely seeing more signs of an unspoken tolerance by many police forces who, with slashed budgets and decreased manpower are pressed to apply their resources to busting home growers who are not seeking to exploit their harvests for criminal intent.
At Paradise Seeds we have a lot of respect for the UK scene and we are really encouraged by developments that point towards a more socially normalized status for cannabis in the future. We look forward to The Secret Session Cannabis Cup where we’ll be finding out more about the UK weed scene and bringing you a special report, so stay tuned!