By Emily Ledger
We’ve spent the week assessing the Cannabis policy of UK political parties on the run-up to the General Election. Having already scrutinised the recreational and medical Cannabis policy of the three largest parties, we’re now taking a look at the Green Party.
Brexit and the economy are harbouring the majority of news coverage and party speeches on the run-up to the December 12th election. Yet, legalisation advocates and would-be medical Cannabis patients continue impatiently campaigning for Cannabis policy reform.
Since the rescheduling of Cannabis to allow for medical prescription and research last November, little has changed. So, what do the four largest political parties in the UK have to say about Cannabis policy?
The Green Party View of Cannabis
Since the party’s formation in 1990, the Greens have supported the decriminalisation of Cannabis. In recent years, their Cannabis policy (and broader drug policy) has progressed to become even more liberal. The Green Party manifesto offers proposals that in some cases are similar to those of the Liberal Democrats. However, in some cases, the Greens take things a step further.
Medical Cannabis Policy
The Green Party’s 2019 manifesto does not single out the issue of medical Cannabis, as it covers Cannabis as a whole. However, it can be assumed that the party has supported the medical use of the plant since its formation in 1990. In the past, the party has openly supported individuals who ave been charged for the cultivation of Cannabis for self-medication.
For example, in 2007, Multiple Sclerosis patient Patricia Tabram was arrested for cultivating Cannabis plants for the purpose of self-medicating. In response to the situation, former Green Party drugs spokesperson stated:
“The government have prohibited a free and effective medicine in favour of expensive pharmaceutical drugs with negative side effects.”
This year, Green Party member Julyan Levy explained that the party’s plan to legalise Cannabis cultivation would allow the NHS to have its own production and supply service for Cannabis-based medicines. According to Levy, this would vastly reduce the cost of these medicines for both the patient and the NHS.
In its manifesto, the Green Party claims that its policy would “Enable medical scientists to conduct research on psychoactive drugs to develop new treatments for mental and physical illnesses.”
Recreational Cannabis Policy
The Green Party are much more clear in their 2019 General Election manifesto in regards to recreational Cannabis. The party would aim to repeal the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971 and the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. This would effectively decriminalise all drugs, in favour of evidence-led legislation.
Among those would be Cannabis, which is currently listed twice in the Act: in Schedule 2 (moved last year from Schedule 1), and Schedule 4. Following decriminalisation, the Greens state that they would advocate a Royal Commission aimed at identifying an alternative approach to Cannabis control. In their manifesto, the party states that this would hopefully lead to regulated legalisation of the plant.
The Green Party 2019 General Election manifesto states that it would:
“Make cannabis, labelled according to laboratory-tested strength, available to adults from licensed small businesses.”
The party also supports the licensing of Cannabis Social Clubs, where members would be permitted to collectively cultivate Cannabis plants. The proposed system would focus on a not-for-profit approach to a legal Cannabis market, keeping costs down for all involved. In addition, the Green party outline plans to expunge and pardon all individuals charged for drug possession and small-scale supply.
To minimise the number of people using drugs, including Cannabis, the party would introduce a ban on all commercial advertising. This can would include alcohol, which the party recognises as being as much of a drug as Cannabis.
The Cannabis (and other drugs) policy of the Green Party is focused on making drug use a health issue, rather than a criminal one.