The call for marijuana reform in the United Kingdom has increased several decibels in recent months.
At the beginning of May, a UK doctor approved the nation’s first medical cannabis prescription, despite the fact that it is still illegal. The medicine was for young Billy Caldwell, an 11-year-old boy who suffers from intractable epilepsy.
Less than two weeks later, the Liberal Democrats announced the total legalization of adult-use cannabis as a campaign promise. This move was the first time a major political party in Britain had made marijuana reform a key initiative. At the same time, Prime Minister Theresa May suffered significant condemnation for what was perceived as ignorant “reefer-madness-esque” comments toward pot reform of any kind when she relied on the false “gateway drug” theory that cannabis use leads to harder drugs.
While the government and medical communities of the Queen’s nation continue to debate the issue, many police forces within the United Kingdom have made cannabis enforcement a low priority. The de-escalation that started a couple of years ago has reached the point where police are leaving polite notes for small illegal growers, rather than launching exhaustive investigations.
Most recently, longtime Member of Parliament Paul Flynn called on citizens to openly consume cannabis in front of the Parliament building as a form of protest against the country’s outdated drug policy. Flynn went into detail regarding his comments in an interview with Marijuana.com a few days later.
Today, the MS Society in the United Kingdom has said there is sufficient evidence regarding the effectiveness of cannabis as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. They too have called for the government to legalize the plant as a way for thousands of multiple sclerosis patients to see some sort of relief, without having to go to the black market to buy it.
Doctors who treat patients with multiple sclerosis have backed the call from the MS Society, as have the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party. The MS Society says that cannabis should be allowed for the 1 in 10 multiple sclerosis patients whose condition is resistant to pharmaceuticals. The MS Society estimates there are approximately 100,000 people in the UK with multiple sclerosis.
“We think cannabis should be legalized for medicinal use for people with MS to relieve their pain and muscle spasms when other treatments haven’t worked,” said Genevieve Edwards, the MS Society’s director of external affairs.
As for MP Paul Flynn, he continues his call to dismantle prohibition by announcing that he will be introducing a private member’s bill this October to legalize medical cannabis. The 82-year-old has not used cannabis in what he calls his “long, boring life,” but he is introducing the bill to end the “bottomless stupidity” of the UK drug policy.
In an interview with The Mirror, Flynn outlined the futility and ridiculousness of incarcerating people for cannabis, adding that “There’s a huge amount of money to be raised if you have a legal market. You’ve got money now that’s pouring into the black market for people who almost certainly don’t pay taxes on it.”
Flynn criticized the current regime for sticking to a failed drug policy that is trapped in the past. “They’re ignoring a mountain of evidence before their eyes that the drug laws are doing more harm than the drugs themselves,” said Flynn.
As patients, activists, government officials, police, medical professionals, and a parade of others scream at the brick wall of prohibition in the United Kingdom, the hope is that their cries will become loud enough to crumble the ignorance of yesteryear.
Thankfully, their collective optimism that something can be done is spurring a determination which is hard to ignore, and perhaps, impossible to stop.
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