Reply to Letter to Kenneth Clarke, MP, From Home Ofice, September 2010


The following letter was received from the Home Office in reply to the LCA letter to Kenneth Clarke, Justice Minister, requesting a meeting

Home Office

Direct Communications Unit

2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

Dear Mr Baldwin

Ref: T14047/10

16th Sept 2010

Thank you for your letter of 9th to RT Hon Kenneth Clarke. You requested a meeting to discuss your campaign's concerns with the welfare of the millions of victimless cannabis users in Britain. Your letter has been passed to the home office, which has responsibility for this area of policy and I have been asked to reply.

Unfortunately because of diary pressures, it is not possible for James Brokenshire, the Home office minister for Crime prevention, to commit to a meeting in the foreseeable future. However I can provide you some information on the coalition government's position on Cannabis

The government's view is that cannabis is a harmful and illegal drug that should not be taken. It accepts that it has a number of acute and chronic health affects and that prolonged use can cause dependance. Most cannabis is smoked and smoking, in any form, is dangerous. Even the occasional use of the drug can pose significant dangers for people with mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, and particular efforts need to be made to encourage abstinence in such individuals.

Based on this the government must make a judgment on what is best for public health. That is the key issue because it is on this issue that the law is based. What government must do - and does do- is to balance the rights of individuals on the one hand and the greater public health and welfare considerations on the other. The latter prevails.

The government therefore believe that is clearly makes sense, on health grounds, for cannabis to remain a controlled drug whose unauthorized production (including domestic cultivation), supply and possession for whatever purpose (recreational or therapeutic) are and will remain illegal.

You make reference to cannabis users alleviating symptoms of illness and injury. While the government has no intention of legalizing the use of cannabis in its raw form for medicinal purposes, it nevertheless recognizes that there are people who are looking to alleviate their symptoms and who may not find adequate relief from existing medication.

For them there is the cannabis based oral spray, Sativex, available under a home office general license issued in 2006 by (what is now) the home office drugs licensing and compliance unit based at the Marsham St address at the top of this letter.

On 16th June 2010 the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency (MHRA) granted market authorization to GW Pharmaceuticals for its cannabis based spray, Sativex, as a fully licensed medicine for relieving spasticity in MS patients.

But this development does not stop the general license from enabling Sativex to be supplied legally for other conditions when prescribed to a patient for medicinal purposes under their own doctors personal responsibility. The license continues to cover any doctor wishing to prescribe Sativex, the pharmacist to dispense the drug and the patient to possess it, without the requirement to be individually licensed.

You mention that your campaign group have several proposals to reduce harm from drugs which would be better than current policy of prohibition. The home office has recently launched a consultation on new drug strategy See link to web. We are most welcome to any contributions your campaign group may have

The consultation is open for 6 weeks until 30th Sept, responses can be submitted via the online form , by email or by post to address Marsham


The government plans to publish the future drug strategy in Dec 2010.

Yours sincerely

Joseph Ponan

Drug stratagy unit

Second Letter to Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke, Justice Minister, January 2011