Many national media outlets, desperate to boost their revenues through hyperbole, may be treating tomorrow’s election like a presidential one. But it isn’t. Unless they are standing in your constituency, you are not voting for Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn. What you think about either of them personally should not determine your vote. The Prime Minister is not all-powerful in a parliamentary democracy – for all its undemocratic shortcomings, a good thing for opponents of absolutism – as has been demonstrated by the deadlock over Brexit.
No, as always in a British general election under the first-past-the-post system, you are voting for one thing – who you want to represent you as your local MP.
So the UKCSC is urging you to vote for the local candidate – regardless of their party colours – who would be most likely as an MP to vote in favour of legalising cannabis use in any future parliamentary vote.
The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto is committed to decriminalising cannabis use and legalising the sale of cannabis through licensed shops. While this is good, it does not necessarily mean every Liberal Democrat MP would vote in favour of this – although one would expect party leader Jo Swinson to impose a three-line whip, that isn’t guaranteed. So find out if one of your other potential MPs, if they have a realistic chance of winning, is more likely to vote in favour of these policies.
Yes, the Liberal Democrats may be basing their legalisation model on that on Canada’s, with all its shortcomings, but that is better than what we can expect from the other main parties.
The Scottish National Party also supports decriminalisation and medicinal cannabis, and has been pushing for publicly funded drug consumption rooms as a badly needed form of harm reduction.
There are a few Tories who would vote in favour of legalisation who may be worth voting for if there isn’t a better pro-legalisation alternative. But the majority of the party, even more since its shift towards the fringe right, is obviously opposed to cannabis legalisation, which would encroach on Philip May’s GW Pharmaceutical monopoly.
While the cowardice of the Labour Party – given that it describes itself as the champion of progress – is perhaps the biggest obstacle to drug reform, there are many Labour MPs who hold a better position on legalisation than the party as a whole, particularly on the left-leaning wing of the party, including Corbyn, who has at least backed decriminalisation, something that should be our number one demand, along with medicinal cannabis. And Labour has said that it would hold a Royal Commission to look in to legalisation.
For all the talk of Brexit, the reality is that cannabis legalisation is the single biggest issue at stake in this general election. There are numerous reasons why. For example:
➜ Legalisation will take a lot of pressure off of the NHS. Recreational cannabis is medicinal cannabis. A regulated recreational market will enable you to purchase from a multiple choice of strains in the knowledge of the exact content and dosage of THC to CBD ratio. We do not need to repeat all the health problems cannabis can help with here, but we should also remember that cannabis can be a preventative medicine because, for example, as a stress reliever it is a much safer alternative to alcohol and nicotine, and so on. Not only would a legal recreational market bring in hundreds of millions of pounds of tax to fund public services like the NHS, it would save the NHS millions of pounds in spending, both through helping to prevent various kinds of health/mental health/addiction/stress related problems in the first place, and because this would make the high prices the NHS has to pay to Big Pharma for ‘medicinal cannabis’ less of a problem.
➜ A healthier public also saves money for other public services.
➜ People forced by prohibition and other factors to turn to crime could gain employment in the new legal industry. That would save the police and the courts massive amounts of money and again raise taxes.
➜ Legalising cannabis would also be a massive step towards ending the foot-shooting restrictions on hemp farming and hemp-based industry, which, as we have argued, is the most important thing that can be done in terms of tackling climate change. Hemp farming and hemp-based production would help to re-industrialise this country, creating huge numbers of jobs, raising yet more taxes, reducing the country’s huge and dangerous dependence on imports and, as as a result, reducing its massive trade deficit.
Our claim that cannabis is the biggest single issue at stake this election is therefore not at all outlandish. That cannabis is hardly being talked about comes down to the archaic nature of our media and political systems, but that’s another conversation for another day.
In December last year, a vote on cannabis legalisation was narrowly defeated. You didn’t get a vote, and you won’t next time, either. But this election is a chance to swing the balance of forces in the House for the next time such a vote comes up. The more pro-cannabis candidates elected as MPs, the better our future chances of success.
So share this argument widely. Vote for the candidate who would be most likely to vote for the legalisation of adult cannabis use.