By Emily Ledger
Three MPs, from three of the largest political parties in the UK, have predicted that the UK could see recreational Cannabis legalisation in the next five to 10 years. David Lammy of Labour, Sir Norman Lamb of the Lib Dems, and Jonathon Djanolgy of the Conservatives, visited Canada on a research trip.
In October, 2018, Canada became the first of the G7 countries to legalise the use of recreational Cannabis. A month later, the UK took what many people consider to be a ‘first step’ in following Canada’s lead – Medicinal Cannabis was legalised.
However, Home Office officials maintain the stance that the rescheduling of Cannabis, to make medical prescriptions legal, was not a way of opening the door to legal recreational use.
Currently, Cannabis is a Class B drug in the UK, with those caught in possession facing the possibility of five years in prison.
Prior to the trip, only one of the MPs, Sir Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, actively supported the legalisation of recreational Cannabis. However, Lammy and Djanolgy both claimed to enter the experience with an open mind to all possibilities.
Sir Norman Lamb was a leading force behind his party’s backing of legalisation, and has written a number of opinion articles around the issue. While in Canada, the MP also sampled a Cannabis product on camera, perhaps the first MP to knowingly do so.
The Cannabis oil, which contained both THC (the cannabinoid known to cause a high), and CBD (known to balance some of the effects of THC), was purchased to help the MP to sleep.
The most significant change in stance came from Labour MP David Lammy, who revealed in the BBC documentary:
“I want the market legalised, regulated and taken away from crime gangs, for young people not to be criminalised by use and properly educated. I want to see the strength of the stuff reduced, labelled and properly organised in this country.”
David Lammy has also written an opinion piece in The Guardian explaining his position on what should be done in the UK.
The only MP who remained traditionally conservative on the issue was Tory MP Jonathon Djanolgy, who stated:
“I’m not convinced that we have the research or the knowledge about how to replace the criminality that currently goes with it. I think we’ve got a lot to learn before we move to legalisation of recreational Cannabis – which I think will happen at some point, given that we’ve already legalised medical Cannabis.”
Despite the legalisation of medicinal Cannabis in the UK, only a handful of patients have been prescribed the medication from private clinics – at a high personal cost.
The trip to Canada was organised by a Cannabis campaign group, Volte Face, which is based in the UK. The group is partly funded by North American cannabis company, MPX.
Sir Norman Lamb MP and David Lammy MP decided to fund their own flights and accommodation for the trip.