Is a General Election the best chance we have for UK cannabis policy change?

Politics

Well, the bell has tolled and this dysfunctional government has finally conceded that it needs to dissolve and reform after another General Election. Brexit is of course the cause of this utter sh*t show the country has had to endure for the past three years and through three prime ministers.

David Cameron was nearly expelled from Eton for puffing grass, Johnson has referred to cannabis as “jolly nice” and Theresa May’s Husband is involved in investments with the largest and only cannabis pharmaceutical company operating fully in the UK. But even this sadly never resulted in the UK getting ahead of the game when it comes to legalising cannabis, unlike a number of other Commonwealth nations that have pushed much further ahead.

Each party has started to put effort into the reform debate in a way that is starting to turn some heads and keep the conversation alive. Sadly this has been corporatised quite early on and this risks allowing natural development of the cannabis industry and what it needs to be if we actually want to deal with the problems of prohibition.

But are the main parties interested in reforming cannabis as a serious bid for trying to win this new election or is it going to be all about Brexit?

The Conservatives have been very straight forward publicly about their stance on cannabis and drugs in general. They aren’t going to change their mind, they say… but if Brexit is anything to go by, we know the Tories are ones to go back on their word (and quite a few times outside of Brexit, too). Boris Johnson has hurled insults at Extinction Rebellion, recently calling supporters “hemp-smelling bivouacs” and “crustys”. His brother, father and sister have all spoken out against his attitude towards work and it wasn’t pretty .

The Liberal Democrats have recently announced a new leader, Jo Swinson, but she hasn’t filled any of us with much confidence when it comes to pushing the cannabis agenda despite it being a pillar in the Lib Dem manifesto. Lib Dems have confessed to us that just because it is party policy, it doesn’t mean that all MPs are going to get behind it, and there are only 12 of them as it stands, anyway. Swinson was a strong supporter of Tory policies during the coalition years. We requested an interview with her before and after her campaign but have yet to receive a response.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been a little quiet on the topic, not giving any real recognition to what has gone on in Canada for the past 12 months. Having said that, his son, Tommy, is a staunch advocate for hemp and CBD so we know this is certainly a topic that has come up at least once or twice.

Labour have been a funny one with cannabis. And if you look to the last time they were in power they actually made a right hash out of cannabis policy over gaining political support from newspapers. Weed was classified as a B, went to C and then went up to B again, but the £90 street warning and three strikes system was introduced. Since then Labour MP Dianne Abbott as shadow Home Secretary just last year said Labour had no plans on reforming drug laws or legalising cannabis – a real shame as her community knows why legalisation is needed in Hackney. Having said this, MPs Thangam Debbonaire and Jeff Smith have started work on the Labour Drug Policy Campaign Group and hope to open up the discussion.

The Green Party just this month voted at party conference to introduce a regulated cannabis market specifically to allow social enterprises such as Cannabis Social Clubs rather than just having a large commercial market for profit. Whilst the Greens have been on the rise, it is very unlikely that they will get into a position to implement this policy anytime soon, it is a great addition to official party drug policies. The Greens have a reputation for setting the tone which bigger parties like the Tories and Labour have borrowed from a lot.

The Scottish National Party last week spoke out in favour of drug decriminalisation as Scotland is facing one of the world’s worst injection drug overdose epidemics and Westminster is sitting on its hands whilst hundreds of people are dying when these deaths could be prevented with a change of policy. Many feel Scotland could lead the way for the rest of the UK if they were able to.

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Regardless of all of this, what counts is what your local MP and the upcoming candidates view on cannabis reform is. This is the time to get out there and try and get a face to face with the candidates and ask them what their stance is, what are they going to do to right the wrongs of the current government over patients still being denied access to legal pharmaceutical forms and people being busted by the police for growing their own. Remember though, getting their backs up about cannabis before they get in probably isn’t the best way to go about building a good ongoing relationship with them – as cannabis campaigning has got a few more years ahead of it, and even when it’s legal, we will still have a long way to go to get it right.

Tory policy has been killing people in the UK, the high sanction rate for those on Universal Credit has lead many to end their own lives. Tory voters love to vote, they take pride in it, but those who are against the political system because of the way they have been treated often avoid and are against voting. Abstaining only raises the chances of those you are against and here is a great example of how cannabis policy has been kept back by three parties that all behind closed doors say they are working on it. Sir Norman Lamb MP proposed a bill to legalise cannabis in December 2018. Labour Whips informed their MPs to abstain, which resulted in a close call but sadly a loss for advancement of the bill. Even the Labour MPs sitting on the Drug Policy Reform Group abstained, making it look to us like they were saying “no thanks, we want to be the ones to do that in power”. So, don’t be like them, stand up for what you believe in if you believe in cannabis. 

3 thoughts on “Is a General Election the best chance we have for UK cannabis policy change?

  1. Labour have recently that they’ll set up a Royal Commission on drugs if they get into power though.

    Finger crossed for 12th December!

  2. Interesting article, but I fear cannabis will not be legalized in the UK for another 5 years, hopefully, I’m wrong but let us face it Brexit has nearly taken 5 years and that should have been a done deal. Anyway, interesting article can’t wait to see how it plays out

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