Will cannabis be legal in the UK 2018? Medical cannabis bill gets a second reading in House of Commons on 23rd of February (Updated)
Please see updates at end of the article.
The legalization of cannabis medicinal purposes bill 2017/2019 was introduced to parliament on Tuesday the 10th of October 2017 by Paul Flynn MP who has already achieved notoriety after admitting to making cannabis tea in the Commons. It was introduced under the ten-minute rule which enables an MP to have his or her case for a new bill heard in a speech lasting up to 10 minutes. The bill proposes to allow the production, supply, possession, and use of cannabis and cannabis resin for medicinal purposes and for connected purposes. It is expected to have its second reading debate on Friday the 23rd of February 2018.
So what could it mean for UK citizens who are interested in using medicinal cannabis?
Is it possible that medical marijuana may be legalized in the UK during 2018 or is the new bill likely to get thrown out of the House of Commons?
Medical and recreational cannabis is gaining acceptance around the world
Medical cannabis is one area where the UK is falling behind.
It is currently legal to buy and use low THC CBD oil and CBD vape oil in the UK, but any type of cannabis products with a THC level over .2% are illegal.
In many countries around the world, cannabis is now either legal or decriminalized so citizens are able to acquire cannabis and cannabis extracts either from a pharmacy or from a street seller. In these countries, many citizens are choosing to self-medicate with cannabis they purchase on the street or grow for their own use. Although a step in the right direction, decriminalization does not automatically enable medical research and the use of cannabis for medical applications. In addition to this, for medical applications, it is important that a reliable consistent strength and quality is available. “Street weed” and “homegrown” are notoriously inconsistent when it comes to the levels of active compounds and it is very important for medical uses that the levels are known. The following list shows the countries where cannabis is available for medical use / has been decriminalized
Australia: medicinal and decriminalized
Canada: medicinal use
Chile: decriminalized and medicinal use
Columbia: legal and medicinal use
Costa Rica: decriminalized
Croatia: decriminalized and medicinal use
Czech Republic: decriminalized
Denmark: legal in Freetown
Finland: medicinal use
Germany: medicinal use and partially decriminalized
Greece: decriminalized and medicinal use
India: legal in several States
Israel: medicinal use
Italy: medical use and decriminalized
Jamaica: decriminalized and legal if Rastafarian
Macedonia: medicinal use
Mexico: medicinal and decriminalized
New Zealand: medicinal use
Norway: medicinal use and decriminalized
Peru: decriminalized and medical use
Philippines: medicinal use
Poland: medicinal use
Puerto Rico: medicinal use
Spain: legal to use in private
Turkey: medicinal use
United States: legal in several States decriminalized in 18 States.medicinal use in 29 States
US Virgin Islands: decriminalized
Zambia: medicinal use
It’s plain to see that old attitudes to cannabis are changing. The world appears to be experiencing a cannabis awakening with citizens of many countries beginning to question why they are unable to legally use a plant that was considered a medicine by many cultures for over 5000 years.
In the UK, progress towards cannabis legalization has been very slow. This is quite surprising considering that a majority of UK MPs are in favor of the legalization of medical cannabis.
In fact, a 2016 poll conducted by Populus on behalf of VolteFace found that 58% of MP’s support the use of cannabis for people with health conditions with only 27% of the MP’s questioned saying they opposed the legalization of cannabis for medicinal use. That is 2:1 in favor!
Surprisingly, neither the Conservatives or Labour Party currently officially supports the legalization of cannabis for medical use although the Green Party and Liberal Democrats have backed legalization for quite some time.
Support from health minister
Even Dr. Poulter who served as a health minister from 2012 until the last election has given his full support for the legalization of cannabis for medical use.
“This is about ensuring the provision of better care and support for those living with chronic pain, long-term degenerative conditions and, in some cases, people being cared for at the end of their life,” he said.
“It is an unnecessary burden for people in pain to have the added pressure of not being able to access a treatment which could provide symptomatic relief, or be criminalized if they try to do so.”
Dr. Poulter who was a hospital doctor went on to say:
“Many other European countries, not to mention several American states, have already woken up to the medicinal uses of cannabis and the UK Government should look more closely at the evidence and allow medicinal use of cannabis, via prescription, when it is in the best interests of patients.”
UK Government officially opposes legalization
The current UK Government does not (officially) share the views of Dr. Poulter which is evident by their response to a recent petition to legalize medical cannabis.
“This Government has no plans to legalize cannabis. Raw cannabis is not recognized in the UK as having any medicinal benefit”
So apparently, the UK government sees no medical benefits in cannabis. This stance is quite confusing for many observers, because, in January 2017, the UK Government took a different view regarding one of the primary cannabinoids present in cannabis when it classified cannabidiol as a medicine.
Thousands of UK consumers now regularly use CBD oil and CBD vaping oil to enhance feelings of wellbeing.
So now, cannabis is classed as medicinally useless but its primary cannabinoid is a medicine.
The most recent Commons debate on the legalization of medical cannabis in the UK was held in October 2015 but it was rejected by Justice ministers. The debate was held in response to an online petition calling for cannabis legalization which gained 220,000 signatures. You can watch the debate here or may prefer to read it here.
The new bill which proposes the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes will be debated by The Commons on the 23rd of February 2018. At the end of the debate the house will vote on The Bill and the result of the vote will determine whether or not the bill progresses past the second Reading. Due to the exponential increase in cannabis medicine awareness across the world and the increasing support in the UK, it is much more likely that the new Bill may actually have a chance of continuing to the next stage.
Countries across the world are waking up to the potential of an ancient healing herb which has been used for thousands of years without causing harm.
In the last 50 years there has not been one case of a death in the UK caused by cannabis smoking or ingestion, compare that to the tens or hundreds of thousands who have died due to side effects caused by various pharmaceutical treatments and medication overdoses.
Will the UK government continue down the path of blocking the potential of medical cannabis use? Or could February 23rd, 2018 be the first step toward legalization in the United Kingdom?
Many think it’s about time the Government woke up.
“A majority of MPs get the compassionate case for medical cannabis. The UK is increasingly out of step with other countries on this issue. The government should listen to parliament and cannabis patients themselves and bring forward proposals for a change in the law.”
Nick Clegg, former Deputy PM
February 23rd, 2018 may turn out to be a very interesting day!
Update: Feb 24th:
Paul Flynn’s bill was sabotaged by Conservatives and members of his own party!
MP’s used a technique known as filibustering (waste time, stall, play for time, stonewall, procrastinate, buy time, employ delaying tactics) to block the bill from having its second reading. Basically, other MP’s talked for as long as possible about other topics to ensure there was insufficient time to hear a bill that could pave the way for an end to suffering for tens of thousands of sick people.
It’s as though its a game to them!
Paul Flynn said those who had sabotaged the vote had a “heart of stone,”
Referring to Conservative Home Office Drugs Minister Victoria Atkins Flynn said: “Giving a few drops of cannabis to a young boy is not going to set off a crimewave. But we’ve got a spokeswoman on the Conservative Party who happens to be married to a person who works for GW Pharmaceuticals that sell cannabis at a hugely inflated price. That’s the reason why the Health Minister didn’t reply to the debate in the House of Commons.”
Flynn insisted: “We have the evidence of 5,000 years of cannabis use in every continent in the planet. If there was any evidence of it damaging health, it would be known. And we have got medicinal drugs that they approve of and have killed people on an industrial scale from Thalidomide to Valproate.
“But we have a corrupt system of regulating drugs that is run by Big Pharma, not by Big Science – which is us. There is a difference. How can we respect a Party that treats in the Commons the treatment of a young child and all those others suffering from MS as though it’s a problem of law and order?”
The Bill is now scheduled to have its next reading in the House of Commons on 7th July 2018.
Let us hope other MP’s can shut up for long enough to enable the bill to be debated.
Check back here for updates……