The Mancunion

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Liberal Democrats seek to legalise cannabis

The Liberal Democrats are preparing to set up a panel that would discuss how a legal market for cannabis would operate

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The Liberal Democrats, former coalition partners of the Conservative government, have stated that they would back the decriminalisation of current class B drug cannabis, and are setting up an expert panel to look into the proposal and discuss how a legal cannabis market would function.

The decriminalisation of marijuana is backed by the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, Norman Lamb, who stated that “we must end the hypocrisy of senior politicians admitting to using cannabis in younger years—and describing it as ‘youthful indiscretions’—whilst condemning tens of thousands of their less fortunate fellow countrymen and women to criminal records for precisely the same thing, blighting their careers.”

This opinion was echoed by Labour MP Paul Flynn whilst he was leading the parliamentary debate on legalising cannabis on the 12th of October. The debate was a result of a petition that attracted nearly a quarter of a million signatures. Despite this being the third most popular parliamentary petition ever, a disappointing 14 out of a possible 650 MPs attended the debate. Naturally, the outcome deemed cannabis irredeemably harmful.

The panel is set to feature Professor David Nutt, who was sacked in 2009 from the chair of the advisory council on the misuse of drugs, after stating in a paper that legal drugs such as tobacco were more harmful than illegal drugs such as LSD and cannabis. The panel will also include the Executive Director for drug charity Release Niamh Eastwood, and former Cambridgeshire police constable Tom Lloyd.

Brian Paddick, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police backs the panel following the pilot of a scheme in Lambeth ten years ago. The scheme decriminalised cannabis for personal use which resulted in a decrease in crime and a huge saving in police resources.

The panel, amongst other things, is set to review the result of legalising recreational marijuana in Colorado, which has led to a 2.2 per cent decrease in crime from January to November 2015 compared with the same months in 2014.

  • Surely you mean Norman Lamb – not Dave??

  • The debate has provided a huge amount of compelling evidence the MPs who were present and took part I would like to extend the thanks of all United Patients Alliance patients for their passion and commitment. The government through their Minister for Justice, Mike Penning have once again ignored justice and have stuck firmly to their evidence free position without offering any reasonable or rational justification. He seemed particularly proud of the information, based on 14 year old, inaccurate research from a single organisation, The Royal College of Psychiatry, which presumably he had to try really hard to find but ignores the comments from these other expert organisations:

    http://norml.org/component/zoo/item/quick-reference?category_id=734

    For Mike Penning to say “I have every sympathy for my friends and members of my family who have had MS and the terrible pain and anguish that they go through because of an incurable disease. So I start from the premise of having sympathy” and then to ignore most of the points raised and restating the government’s intention to continue their criminalisation is uncaring, ignorant, insulting and ultimately totally unsympathetic. My Penning, you are a hypocrite and a liar and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    He did concede that legal medical access to cannabis based pharmaceuticals and addressing the research difficulties were things for them to “look at”, he completely ignored every other point made which challenged this harmful, costly and ineffective law.

    Me and the 3.6m regular cannabis consumers of the UK demand that the government provide a detailed, referenced and properly considered response to all the points raised within the debate. Anything less would show this process to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

    I would ask them directly the 2 questions asked by Norman Lamb to which Mr Penning refused to answer:

    Does the Minister really think it is appropriate to give someone who is perhaps suffering from mental ill health a criminal record?
    Can the Minister give any explanation of why it makes sense for that more dangerous product to be legal while a less dangerous product is illegal?”

    We really must NOT let the government get away with ignoring this very important issue any more, The evidence of the medical, legal, financial and social benefits is available and unquestionable and the evidence for its harms, sparse and flaky at best. The evidence for the damage that prohibition causes to a significant proportion of the 3.6m cannabis consumers in the UK is irrefutable But the worst of it is that there are up to 1m active British citizens who consume cannabis to help with their medical conditions, 30000, we know of, with the blessing of their doctors, choose to consume something that helps them manage their symptoms, treat their illnesses and improves their lives will still be forced to live in discomfort and pain or risk accessing a criminal market and run the risk of criminalisation for doing so.

    I am really pleased at this initiative by the Liberal Democrats. Perhaps we can start ramming some truths down the governments throat and force them to take notice.

  • David Michal

    To support prohibition is to support terrorism.
    Legalising cannabis would protect our children by taking the control of cannabis from the criminal market. As it stands children are subject to abuse through criminal drug gangs and introduced to harder drugs leading to exposure to prostitution and theft to support their illegal habit. So I say we take that money away from the criminal gangs and cartels and regulate cannabis and give some of that money to educate on the harms of drugs and eliminate the gateway theory as it only stands because of its current illegal status which will crumble as soon as it is legalised. We need a safer society, not one that supports funding of criminal gangs and terrorism. Legalise for adults, Educate, Regulate and Medicate for those that need it.

    Keeping in mind we need to prevent monopolies on this so the money can go back to the communities.

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