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Bid to legalise cannabis in the UK blocked by MPs

Martine Berg Olsen

The Metro

Tuesday 11 Dec 2018

A move to legalise cannabis by Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb has been blocked by MPs. Mr Lamb brought a 10 Minute Rule Bill on the issue because he claimed current laws are ‘cruel and inhuman’ and ‘hand billions of pounds every year to organised crime’. He argued that ‘tens of thousands of young people are being criminalised for doing something that many people in government have done at some stage in their lives’.

However, the North Norfolk MPs Cannabis Bill failed to pass the first stage and was blocked by a majority of 14 Conservative MPs.

Mr Lamb outlined the current ‘postcode lottery’ of policing and highlighted the ‘dreadful hypocrisy’ of alcohol being legal, taxed and widely enjoyed by MPs in Westminster.

He said: ‘Isn’t there a dreadful hypocrisy that we allow our drug of choice whilst criminalising people who use another, less dangerous drug – many for the relief of pain.

'My Bill offers a more rational alternative to this mess, with strict regulation of the growing sale and marketing of cannabis – we can at last start to protect children and teenagers.

‘We can start to take some of the violence and intimidation off our streets and restore order in our poorest communities, and we can free up police time to focus on serious crime.

‘This is rational, evidence-based policy-making – it’s time for this country to act on the evidence and protect children and young people from harm.’

He added patients who relied on medicinal cannabis for pain relief were still being denied the drug by GPs, who were willing to prescribe more dangerous and addictive painkillers such as Fentanyl.

But Mr Lamb’s 10 Minute Rule Bill was contested by Conservative MP Steve Double, an evangelical Christian, who said he wanted to continue the ‘war on drugs’ and said cannabis is ‘dangerous’ and ‘a gateway drug’.

Mr Double said: ‘We are clearly in the midst of a war on drugs, but I would say we do not win the war by raising the white flag and giving up and surrendering – no war has ever been won by surrendering.

‘I believe legalising would send the wrong message to our young people that cannabis is okay to use.

‘I think we all understand that for many people cannabis is a gateway drug to more serious and more damaging drugs and therefore it would be absolutely wrong to send the message that somehow cannabis is okay because where it would lead for many, many people.

‘We need to do better for our young people, but giving up the war on cannabis is not the way to achieve that.’

The Bill was blocked by 66 no votes to 52 ayes.

Mr Lamb explained his 10 minute Bill earlier today and said: ‘The war on drugs has been a catastrophic failure.

‘It results in extreme violence in many communities as dealers seek to defend their patch it results in tens of thousands of young people being criminalised for doing something that many people in government have done at some stage in their lives and it hands billions of pounds to organised crime every year.

‘And the government reforms on medicinal cannabis has raised expectations many people who use if for pain relief have been going to their GPs across the country, only to be told that there’s no evidence of any beneficial effects so they remain dependent on opioids which we know are very dangerous, highly addictive, and can kill.

‘So my argument is, and my Bill will provide for a legal, regulated market, following what the Canadians have done and that way we can follow a public health approach and bring in tax revenues.’




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