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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Former Care Minister has bid to legalise cannabis blocked by MPs

Written by Jennifer McKiernan

A move to legalise cannabis by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb has been blocked by MPs.

Mr Lamb (North Norfolk) brought a 10 Minute Rule Bill on the issue because he said current laws are "cruel and inhuman" and "hand billions of pounds every year to organised crime".

But his Cannabis (Legalisation and Regulation) Bill failed to pass the first stage and was blocked by a majority of 14 Conservative MPs.

Mr Lamb (pictured) outlined the current "postcode lottery" of policing and highlighted the "dreadful hypocrisy" of alcohol being legal, taxed and widely enjoyed by MPs in Westminster.

He said: "Isn't there a dreadful hypocrisy that we allow our drug of choice whilst criminalising people who use another, less dangerous drug - many for the relief of pain.

"My Bill offers a more rational alternative to this mess, with strict regulation of the growing sale and marketing of cannabis - we can at last start to protect children and teenagers.

"We can start to take some of the violence and intimidation off our streets and restore order in our poorest communities, and we can free up police time to focus on serious crime.

"This is rational, evidence-based policy-making - it's time for this country to act on the evidence and protect children and young people from harm."

He added patients needing access to medicinal cannabis were still being routinely denied the drug by GPs, who were willing to prescribe more dangerous and addictive painkillers such as Fentanyl.

But Mr Lamb's Ten Minute Rule Bill was contested by Conservative MP Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay), an evangelical Christian, who said he wanted to continue the "war on drugs" and labelled cannabis "dangerous" and "a gateway drug".

Mr Double said: "We are clearly in the midst of a war on drugs, but I would say we do not win the war by raising the white flag and giving up and surrendering - no war has ever been won by surrendering.

"I believe legalising would send the wrong message to our young people that cannabis is okay to use.

"I think we all understand that for many people cannabis is a gateway drug to more serious and more damaging drugs and therefore it would be absolutely wrong to send the message that somehow cannabis is okay because where it would lead for many, many people."

"We need to do better for our young people, but giving up the war on cannabis is not the way to achieve that."

The Bill was blocked by 66 no votes to 52 ayes.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Lauren Hurley / PA Wire.