Cannabis plants have been spotted sprouting in public places up and down the UK, a country where the plant is categorized as a Class B drug and possession alone can lead to a five year prison sentence. The majestic herb can be found humbly sunning itself near some of the nation’s most iconic locations in central London, such as the BBC headquarters, Tower Bridge and The Shard.
Although cannabis can flourish naturally in Britain’s wet, mild climate, as it has done in the past, these seeds were sown with intent. In perhaps one of the most profound acts of resistance in the UK’s legalization movement, the activist group “Feed The Birds” is distributing cannabis seeds across the country as part of a grassroots campaign to draw attention to the ridiculousness of prohibition.
Feed The Birds was founded in early 2014 by a person using the online alias Finn Hemingway. Since the movement germinated, they have accumulated over 23,000 Facebook followers; among these numbers are an estimated 2000 “birders” who contribute to the cause with acts of clandestine, yet highly effective, resistance. Planting, cultivating and harvesting cannabis plants in the UK is highly illegal and could lead to 14 years of imprisonment.
However, as displayed in the name, this movement has discovered and exploited a loophole in the legal system to render what they do perfectly legal. As it appears on the streets, all these activists are doing is throwing seeds around — quite literally feeding the birds. Although the plant itself is illegal to posses, cannabis seeds are not; it is legal to posses, sell and purchase them within the boarders of the UK. As long as they are not intentionally sown and germinated, it is legal to utilize them in a manner of different ways: to eat as food, to bait fish and to feed birds.
Scattering cannabis seeds in a public place with the intention of offering nutritionally dense, mineral and omega fatty acid rich seeds to our feathered friends is not a crime. If said seeds are not detected by hungry birds or banqueting squirrels, they will most likely begin to germinate and grow. Thus, cannabis plants as large and mature as those pictured can flourish in public places without a single person being prosecuted, punished or imprisoned.
“We believe that seeds left to grow highlight the ineffectiveness of prohibition, partly because cannabis grows naturally in the UK and has done for thousands of years, and partly because we feel visual protests are powerful and evocative,” Hemingway told Reset.
Each plant stands as a visual message regarding the skewed and failed drug policies that prohibit the herb.
“Personally, I think cannabis is still illegal because British politicians do not want to be seen as having a ‘weak’ stance on drugs,” Hemingway said. “I would urge all politicians to use a scientific and an economic approach on drug law reform.”
Despite some fierce opposition to cannabis in the UK, many residents acknowledge the plant’s positives — medicinally and economically — and think penalties for its use, cultivation and possession are overly harsh. This becomes especially apparent in light of the U.S. states that have legalized adult use of the plant (there are four in total, plus Washington, D.C.). Since implementing legalization in 2013, Colorado has seen lowered domestic abuse and violent crime rates, and the state benefitted from a staggering $60 million in taxes and fees from cannabis sales in 2014. It has also become a mecca for families with epileptic children. They are migrating by the hundreds from all over the country to Colorado seeking a form of non-psychoactive, concentrated medical marijuana which has shown unprecedented success in mitigating seizures.
Cannabis clubs have sprung up in many towns and cities all over the UK in an attempt to organize collectives — consisting of bankers and barristers to farmers and teachers — to plan peaceful demonstrations, social media campaigns and “bird feeding” events.
When asked how cannabis clubs in the UK can be useful, Hemingway said they are an “important way of showing the authorities and the general population how cannabis clubs reduce harm and increase cannabis user safety.”
Feed The Birds is also spreading awareness about the highly sustainable industrial uses of hemp as well as the medicinal benefits of the plant. Modern science is revealing cannabis is a highly effective treatment for countless different ailments, ranging from cancer to chronic pain.
As well as cannabis seeds, Feed the Birds has given London — and England as a whole — a makeover in the form of message-laden stickers declaring the plants medicinal uses. The stickers are popping up in some eye catching places — like the police vehicle pictured below.
Hemingway said the organization plans to distribute “millions upon millions” of seeds throughout the UK in the coming months — just in time for the upcoming general election. As a suitably modified version of an age old saying goes… “resistance is fertile.”