The Activist on the Inside — MP Paul Flynn on U.K. Pot Reform


One of the most inspiring aspects of watching a country emerge from the bowels of prohibition is witnessing the advocates of cannabis rush to its defense.

These outspoken reformers come in many shapes and sizes, including people from the “illicit” cannabis industry, patients who need marijuana, and even parents who are desperately trying to secure important medicine for their children.

Possibly the most fascinating activists are the representatives of government who encourage people to challenge the status quo, despite the consequences.

An 82-year-old Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Paul Flynn, is one of these outspoken individuals.

Earlier this week, MP Flynn was supremely disappointed with the U.K. Conservative’s Drug Policy plan, and during the debate, he encouraged cannabis users to openly consume weed in front of the Parliament building in protest.

“Come here and use cannabis here and see what happens,” said Flynn. “To challenge the government and the authorities to arrest them and take them in. That’s the only way it will get to the common mind of the government, which is set in concrete. The laws are evidence free and prejudice rich.”

Today, Flynn was kind enough to speak with about his hopes for cannabis reform in Britain.

“The drug policy in Britain is cowardly,” said Flynn. “A group of politicians, because they want to avoid difficult subjects, have stuck to what they regard as safe policies. But these safe policies are causing a great deal of unnecessary anguish to people who want to use cannabis as a medicine.”

Flynn added that these current policies are stuck in the prohibitionist era, which has proven to be an ineffective way to handle drug use. “It is very much framed in the belief that prohibition will reduce drug use and harm. It never has, in fact, it’s been the reverse experience.”

Flynn cited deceased cannabis activist Elizabeth Brice as a perfect example of a patient who fought for medical cannabis in the United Kingdom and Europe. Brice had Multiple Sclerosis and used cannabis to treat the debilitating symptoms. “She was a highly intelligent, brilliant women. She knew that the only relief she could get from the spasms and pain that she suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, was to take cannabis.”

Flynn said that Brice put cannabis in her tea while she was visiting him in the House of Commons. She was there as a speaker during a debate about cannabis legalization. “Our law says that what she did, taking cannabis publicly in the House of Commons, she could go to prison for a long time. But that law is an ass and it deserves to be challenged.”

Flynn is understandably frustrated with the government of the United Kingdom on the cannabis issue. This is mainly because the government is continually ignoring the science that shows cannabis is clearly the antithesis of the “vile drug”  it was once considered to be.

“I’ve been in the House of Commons for thirty years and I’m afraid it’s not one in which laws are made on evidence. Laws are made on political preferences and the worst laws are those that come from the feeling that something must be done,” said Flynn. “It’s gratifying for the politicians because they can say that they did something. Dogs bark, babies cry, and politicians legislate.”

Flynn also agreed that cannabis should never have been prohibited in the first place. “Cannabis has been used as a medicine, in all continents of the world, for 5,000 years. If there were any serious problems from it we would have discovered them by human experience.”

Flynn had some kind words for Canada and its current legalization efforts as well. “The great hero is Justin Trudeau in the fact that he is challenging traditional attitudes [on cannabis].  The world is changing and that is a reason for optimism.”

Flynn had praise for the Netherlands drug policy as well. “The Netherlands have had an intelligent and pragmatic policy of decriminalization for 50 years. This has given them a serious problem in their prisons because they don’t have enough prisoners to fill their prisons,” he said facetiously. “They are using their prisons to have role play activities. This is a problem that Britain would love to have.”

Perhaps the most fascinating characteristic of MP Paul Flynn and his candid view on cannabis reform is the fact that Flynn is 82 years old. That means cannabis prohibition in the United Kingdom was only seven years running by the time Flynn was born.

For the majority of his life, Flynn endured the most ignorant negativity towards marijuana, and yet his point of view is that Britain and the rest of the world had it wrong the whole time.

If cannabis sees any type of reform in the U.K., Member of Parliament Paul Flynn will be someone to thank for it.

About Author

Jon Hiltz was a journalist for for two years and is now director of content for INDIVA, a licensed cannabis producer in Ontario Canada.


    • Why? You do not support your statement at all. Cannabis is cannabis weather it is used as medicine or not it still has the same effect. There is no reason that you should have a deadly disease before you can use cannabis.
      Recreational use costs more in the states but it brings in revenue to support the state governments. Money is the only difference.

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