Although it may seem hard to believe, the world’s first modern-day democracy does not have legal medical cannabis. However, a group of cross-party politicians, activists, scientists, and professors are dead set on changing that as soon as possible.
A group known as the APPG for Drug Policy Reform recently released the findings of an inquiry that highlighted the benefits of medical cannabis for the citizens of the UK. These efforts are being put forth in the hopes that the government and its various departments will understand that cannabis is a safe and effective medicine.
Peter Reynolds is the President of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), the UK’s largest membership-based cannabis policy group; Reynolds explained why Britain still prohibits legal cannabis.
“There’s two reasons, sadly the first reason is the press.” Peter adds that the British press outlets are still stoking the “prohibitionist era” fire by reporting all the misnomers and fallacies related to marijuana use. “All politicians [here]are terrified of the media.” Peter believes that the second major reason is the enormous alcohol industry lobbying the government because cannabis poses a significant threat to alcohol’s bottom line.
In the last few years, Peter and his group have changed the way they approach the issue of legalization. Instead of using the traditional marches and protests which fell on deaf ears, they started to lobby members of the government who may sympathize with the idea of MMJ.
“We’ve become much more involved in engaging the government and putting together studies of scientific evidence. I personally and many of my members have been closely involved in the development of this inquiry since the beginning of the year.” Peter is quick to point out that there are many other cannabis groups pushing for legalizations besides CLEAR.
“The inquiry consists of collecting written submissions and also holding oral hearings, just like hearings before (the U.S.) Congress. That took place between February and July.” The full report of the UK hearings and the scientific evidence put forth by the team was released last Tuesday.
Reynold’s hopes the facts will persuade the UK government to put forth a bill proposing the legalization of medical cannabis. “We’re a long way away from anything actually happening yet, but this is a very big step forward. It is a watershed moment because never before have so many politicians come together [for cannabis], and never before has such a comprehensive review of the science been put together.”
In an email to Marijuana.com, the APPG for Drug Policy Reform said that there “has been no response yet” from the UK government on the inquiry findings. When asked about their thoughts on the timeline of the process, if and when the UK government agrees to put forth a bill, they cited the the German Government as an example. “The German bill on medicinal cannabis currently going through parliament is a strong example. It is anticipated that the passage of that bill will take about a year.” The APPG also cited a promising recent poll taken by VolteFace Magazine where 58% of MP’s said they would support medical cannabis.
Whatever the response is from the British government at this stage, it is clear to all involved that MMJ in the UK is inevitable.