Cannabis Policy of the Political Parties – the Liberal Democrats

3rd December 2019

With yet another General Election fast approaching, we’ll be looking at the stance of some of the UK’s political parties on both medical and recreational Cannabis. This series will include analysis of policies from parties including the Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats. Our next article will be outlining the views and current policy of the Liberal Democrats.

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 some of the largest political parties in the UK have to say about Cannabis policy?

The Liberal Democrats View of Cannabis

The UK’s third-largest political party has caused controversy across the UK in the run-up to the December 12th election. The party has often been vocal about what they say is a “common-sense” response to Cannabis use in the UK. Cannabis legalisation was also added to the list of official manifesto promises under then-leader, Tim Farron.

Their plans to legalise Cannabis will come as a shock to some, yet to others, it will be about time. But, what is the party actually proposing?

Medical Cannabis Policy

The Liberal Democrats have consistently advocated for extended research and access to medical Cannabis. Following the 2018 rescheduling of medical Cannabis, the Liberal Democrats commended the move. However, in a statement, the party also condemned the delay in implementing the change:

“It is disgraceful that people have been left to suffer for so long, because the Conservative Government have refused to accept evidence of the benefits of cannabis based medicines.”

The statement also stresses that the government should not allow any further delay to access to medical Cannabis. The party’s own stance is defined through its wider Cannabis policy (outlined below). The party claims in its manifesto that it “will allow those who feel that cannabis helps to manage their pain to do so without fear of criminal prosecution.”

The party hopes that their Cannabis policy will drastically improve both access and research of Cannabis-based medical products.

Recreational Cannabis Policy

In 2017, the Liberal Democrats became the UK’s first major political party to officially campaign for the legalisation of Cannabis. All three of the latest party leaders have supported the proposed legislation. In the publication of their manifesto for the 2019 General Election under Jo Swinson, the policy is again promoted.

Jo Swinson has repeatedly commented on the policy, claiming:

“If instead we can regulate the cannabis market, we can raise taxation revenue from that, we can set regulations about the safety of the cannabis which is bought and sold.”

Under the policy, the prohibition of Cannabis would be replaced by a legal, regulated, and taxed market. The Lib Dems claim that this kind of reform would help to create a safer environment for adults who choose to use Cannabis.

Additionally, the party would aim to invest more in addiction and support services, and “divert people arrested for possession of drugs for personal use into treatment”. Furthermore, the taxation of the sector would be expected to raise substantial revenue to re-invest into public services.

As a result, Cannabis use would become a health issue, as opposed to a criminal one.


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