Majority of British MP’s Support Legalisation of Medical Cannabis
An exclusive poll commissioned by VolteFace – a “policy innovation hub that explores alternatives to current public policies relating to drugs” – has found that a majority of MPs now support the legalisation of cannabis for medical use.
58% of those polled indicated that they personally supported medical cannabis, with only 27% opposed to it and 15% undecided. Crucially, support was unanimous across party lines, with 50% of Conservative MPs, and 60% of Labour MPs in support. The most dramatic show of support came from the SNP, with 88% of MPs in support and none of those polled expressing any opposition.
The results of the poll add weight to what many have long assumed – that despite public reluctance to support any kind of reform, many MPs are well aware of the medical efficacy of cannabis products and would be in favour of a change in the law.
The gulf between policy and evidence has been clear for all to see for decades, but what this highlights is the clear disconnect between policy and the personal beliefs of those tasked with making and implementing that policy. At least when it comes to medical cannabis, the argument seems to have been won, and yet despite this we are still to see any meaningful change.
Speaking about the poll to VolteFace, Nick Clegg MP was unequivocal in his conviction that the government need to make changes:
“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.”
The publication of this poll is sure to increase the pressure on the government to do something, anything, to ease the suffering of medical cannabis patients in the UK. Right now, all they have is extremely limited access to Sativex, GW Pharmaceutical’s anti-spasticity drug, and it is unclear from the results of this poll alone whether the MPs in question simply support greater access to this ‘pharmaceuticalised’ version of cannabis, or whether they are open to seeing raw cannabis as medicine and/or the legalisation of home grows.
What is clear, is that even with the mounting scientific evidence as to cannabis’ many medical uses, overwhelming public supporting, and now even the support of the majority of MPs, it is highly unlikely that we are going to see meaningful change in the near future. Depressingly for those of us who support reform, Theresa May is about to become leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the country.
This is a woman who we know doesn’t ‘believe in’ medical cannabis, a woman who, during her decade as Home Secretary, repeatedly buried evidence as to the failings of the drug war and the necessity of change. She introduced the Psychoactive Substances Act, a piece of legislation so far removed from reality that even now nobody has any idea what it made illegal and how to enforce it.
So whilst the news of this poll is extremely positive, it should be taken with a huge pinch of salt. The truth is that all it has really done is confirmed what we already knew. It won’t change anything on its own, because in order for that to happen all of those MPs who expressed their support for medical cannabis would have to be given the opportunity to act on their convictions free from the party whips. And right now, with everything else that’s going on in British politics, that seems about as far away from happening as ever.
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