Tory Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, called for the intensification of the “war on cannabis” in Parliament on Tuesday as he successfully led opposition to Norman Lamb’s attempt to bring in a Bill on legalisation and regulation.
With the motion defeated by 66 votes to 52, Double was helped by the fact that Labour whipped its MPs to abstain. In the event, 15 rebelled: eight in favour of the Bill, but seven against.
also disappointing to hear that @UKLabour MPs were whipped to abstain – as @TommySheppard says ‘allowing diehard hang-em-and-flog-em Tories to block even discussing the legal regulation of cannabis is pretty shocking.’
Whats going on with that @LabourDrugRef ?
— Steve Rolles (@SteveTransform) December 12, 2018
Replying to Lamb with typical reactionary prohibitionist myths, Double claimed that there was a difference between medical and recreational cannabis, and that cannabis was a “gateway drug” that ruins lives and causes psychosis.
In a one-man dramatisation of the Daily Mail, Double told Parliament that “something needs to be done about the current situation with cannabis use” which is “doing a great deal of damage to our society, but I do not believe that liberalising and decriminalising it in this way is the answer”.
He claimed his view, far from being informed by scientific evidence, as Lamb’s is, was largely informed “by my experience of seeking to help and support people who have been regular users of cannabis. I have seen at first hand the lives that it wrecks, the impact on mental health and the cost to not only the individual but their families, their communities and wider society.”
He supported the 1 November law change that made cannabis medicine legal – in very restricted circumstances – and agreed that while “more should be done to ensure that cannabis for medicinal use gets to the people who really need it … we need to allow more time for the changes to come into effect before we take a huge leap of faith towards decriminalising cannabis altogether”.
“My concern is that, by liberalising cannabis use, we would send precisely the wrong message to our young people. We would be giving them the message that cannabis is safe and okay to use… I think we all understand that for many people the use of cannabis is a gateway drug to more serious and more damaging drug use.”
Cannabis is, in fact, as our recent feature explored, the opposite – an exit drug.
Making himself look extra ridiculous, Double added “that there is no safe consumption of cannabis in an uncontrolled, unregulated way” – Lamb of course was trying to introduce control and regulation!
He then moved on to his most reactionary posturing, mixed with crocodile tears. “We are clearly in the midst of a war on drugs, but we will not win the war by raising the white flag, giving up and surrendering. No war has ever been won by surrendering.
“Our approach must be bolder. We must offer more meaningful support and aim to drive down consumption yet further. This will not be achieved by a new website or a helpline. We need to intervene and challenge, using experts in the field of drug use, recovered addicts and recovering users, who can reach out and offer a real prospect of change for users.
“A procedure that replaces the current system of issuing a relatively ineffectual warning or punitive fine given by a police officer with the alternative of offering diversion through attendance at a local drugs awareness day would have a greater impact in reducing use. Part of what is currently charged as a fixed penalty notice could instead go to local treatment providers to pay for such a service.”
Double said the evidence from countries where cannabis has been legalised “is still very mixed”. It isn’t.
He added: “We need to do better for our young people, but giving up the war on cannabis is not the way to achieve it. I cannot support this Bill, and if the House does divide on this issue, I will vote against it. I encourage other Members to join me in not allowing this Bill to progress.”
The vested interests of prohibition continue to call the shots in backwards Britain.