MPs debate cannabis legalisation; no change made


Did anybody think there would be?

The debate in the Westminster Hall today (Monday) followed the submission of an e-petition to the Parliament website calling for the legalisation of cannabis, signed by 220,000 people – more than twice the number needed to gain a hearing among MPs.

Labour MP Paul Flynn, opening the debate, said: “I would like to illustrate how this Government—like all Governments—have handled this issue. It is typified by the response we had to this thunderously eloquent petition.

“The Government response begins with the statement that ‘cannabis is…harmful’.

“Cannabis is the oldest medicine in the world. It has been trialled and tested by tens of millions of people over 5,000 years. If there were any problems with natural cannabis, that would have been apparent a long time ago. However, all we have is this wall of denial by Governments who are afraid of the subject, afraid of becoming unpopular and afraid of it being said that they are going to pot.

I am not unrealistic, and I do not expect the Government to make a volte-face on recreational cannabis, but they should explain their position and realise what is going on. However, the case for medical cannabis, including in its natural form, is overwhelming.”

Some of that case was made by other MPs. Conservative (yes, Conservative!) Graham Stuart said: “My constituent B- M- suffers from Crohn’s disease and psoriatic arthritis, and she is allergic to most of the pharmaceutical medicines that are prescribed—in fact, they have given her ulcers. She has found effective pain relief only through cannabis… Sadly, the current situation sees her forced into the company of illegal drug dealers.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “The biggest scandal is that this Government, like successive Governments, have set their face against the evidence… If we look at an evidence-based approach, there is absolutely no correlation between a drug’s legal status and the amount it gets used. In other words, prohibition simply does not work.”

Former Social Security Secretary Peter Lilley (Con), who co-sponsored the debate, said: “There are practical reasons for wanting to move to legalisation. First, attempts to prohibit the sale and use of cannabis have failed. It is readily available and widely used.

“The second point is that they have failed despite the fact that 80 per cent of the effort in the so-called war on drugs goes on trying to prohibit the use of cannabis. If we provided some legal outlets for cannabis, that enforcement effort, the treatment effort and so on could be diverted to tackling hard drugs, which really do harm people, enslave people and, sometimes, kill people.

“Thirdly, keeping on the statute books a law that is widely ignored and impossible to enforce undermines faith not just in that law, but in law and the legal system more generally.

“Finally, legalisation would deprive the criminal world of a large and lucrative market.”

But Mike Penning, minister for policing, crime and criminal justice, wasn’t having any of it. The most he could offer was: “I am committed to working with other Departments and whoever else wants to work with us to ensure that, in the 21st century, where cannabis can be helpful through pharmaceuticals, we will try to make sure that that happens. I am committed to looking at the research and at what work we should be doing. This debate has been enormously useful, but I cannot support the petition.”

And that was the bottom line.

It’s sad to say that the conclusion to be reached after this debate is not one about whether cannabis should, shouldn’t, will or won’t be legalised, but about the usefulness of government e-petitions – and it is this:

We might as well write our petitions on toilet paper and flush them into the sewers. The Conservative Government we have now would pay just as much attention and respect to that as it will to anything coming in via the e-petitions website.


  1. John. October 13, 2015 at 12:13 am - Reply

    The war on some drugs, like the war on some terror is nothing more than a self serving make work welfare program for agents of the state.

    • stephen brophy October 13, 2015 at 4:52 am - Reply

      This is just a war on people!

      • John. October 13, 2015 at 12:08 pm - Reply

        As all wars are.

        The reason the drug war is still going strong after well over a hundred years of complete and utter failure is because it keeps an awful lot of hypocrite scroungers in very lucrative careers.

        If the war on some drugs and its offspring the war on some terror do one good thing, it is that they demonstrate beyond all doubt that the psychotic authoritarian scum that pass themselves off as leaders aren’t the least bit interested in pragmatic solutions to anything. It’s all about self-serving greed and power.

  2. AndyH October 13, 2015 at 12:32 am - Reply

    At least parliamentary time was taken up – the more time they waste on epetitions the less time they can spend hacking away at the welfare state.

    • Mike Sivier October 14, 2015 at 9:44 am - Reply

      This was a Westminster Hall debate; other debates were going on in the House of Commons itself and the two types of committees, and then there’s the House of Lords.

      • AndyH October 14, 2015 at 3:34 pm - Reply

        Oh right – as Dave Gorman said – the epetition site is a virtual wishing well.

  3. Tony Dean October 13, 2015 at 7:22 am - Reply

    Personally given the dire state of long term weed users I know legalisation is madness.

    • stephen brophy October 13, 2015 at 11:25 am - Reply

      You have seen drunks haven’t you! Only dumb people believe banning works!

      • Tony Dean October 13, 2015 at 9:44 pm - Reply

        I have seen lots of drunks but few have ended up as useless unemployable wasters in the same proportion as the long term cannabis users I know have.

    • John. October 13, 2015 at 11:47 am - Reply

      No you don’t, criminalising does absolutely nothing but make matters worse, unless you’re on the payroll.

    • wildswimmerpete October 13, 2015 at 7:14 pm - Reply

      @Tony Dean
      “Personally given the dire state of long term weed users” Do you personally know any? I do, and because they don’t do dangerous drugs like cocaine or heroin, they don’t have any adverse effects other than those associated .with smoking tobacco. Perhaps I should point out that I was a teenager through the 1960s and although I don’t smoke cannabis can be eaten in hash cakes. I don’t have a personal axe to grind because I’m one of the significant minority who can’t actually metabolise THC – as I found out.

  4. Nicola Hall October 13, 2015 at 8:39 am - Reply

    The prize tw@t Penning (he did so well at the dwp, didn’t he: NOT!) said:

    “where cannabis can be helpful through pharmaceuticals, we will try to make sure that that happens. I am committed to looking at the research and at what work we should be doing.”

    You can translate that into:

    “As long as our mates in Big Pharma can make billions out of it, the chemicalized forms of cannabis will be legal – the plebs, however, will still be persecuted for using the raw and natural version of cannabis, as there’s no money in that for us or the Establishment.”

    FFS, even the FDA was forced to admit a few weeks back that cannabis treats cancer! This statement from a country that is home to and enslaved by the biggest pharmaceutical companies on the planet!

    Sativex, one of the chemical versions of cannabis (and with the life-saving THC removed from it), is a substandard and bastardised version of the real thing, yet retails for a ridiculous amount of money – paid for, naturally, by the tax payers of this country for sufferers of MS and the odd other illness where the patient has a very open-minded GP. It is nowhere NEAR as effective as the real thing in oil form. One suspects they have to f*ck about with it to get the patent on the resulting rubbish and justify the cost (about £3-500 per month for MS sufferers).

    And yet… the problem for this government is that there are hardy strains of the cannabis plant that will grow quite happily in any British garden – not only for free, but the result of using the whole plant to make a pure oil (not terribly difficult to do with a bit of equipment) is probably the most potent and comprehensive medicine in the world. Oh, dear. Not good news for Big Pharma, eh? I wonder how much it cost BP to suppress this latest debate…

  5. wildswimmerpete October 13, 2015 at 11:11 am - Reply

    I’m surprised that the “third way” wasn’t discussed: allow people to grow cannabis for their own use, just as with tobacco and alcohol. It would still be an offence to sell cannabis, as currently applies to home-grown tobacco, home-brewed beer, cider and wine. That also means that possession of small amounts of cannabis in public for own use would also be legalised. Simples!

  6. Nicola Hall October 14, 2015 at 9:32 am - Reply

    This is about money and control – nothing else. All the BS debates and MSM articles are just window-dressing. MPs know perfectly well what medical cannabis can do for people, which is why they are being pressured by business into keeping it illegal.

    Anyone unsure about how manipulative our governments (past and present) are should go back a few weeks to the FDA announcement about cannabis treating cancer. Read the Daily Fail and you will see that a couple of negative stories about cannabis use per day suddenly sprang up with top billing, no less. The FDA story – which should have been front page news – was a day late, if I recall, and buried down at the bottom of the DM website.

    Coincidence? Yeah, right – if you’re one of the sheeple, maybe.

    • AndyH October 15, 2015 at 11:22 am - Reply

      Oh well it must be harmful then, it’s not as if the DM every misleads people or is biased in anyway :p

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