‘Policing cannabis like trying to win back the Empire’: Ex-Tory boss calls time on govt drug policy
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, William Hague called for a comprehensive change to cannabis policy after its legal status was brought into sharp focus last week by the case of 12-year-old epilepsy sufferer, Billy Caldwell.
Calling the confiscation of the vital cannabis oil used to stop Billy’s seizures by UK border officials to comply with UK drug laws as “inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date,” Hague advocated a far-reaching review of policy regarding cannabis, saying “official intransigence is now at odds with common sense.”
“As far as marijuana, or cannabis, is concerned, any war has been comprehensively and irreversibly lost.”
Challenging the government to emulate the ruling Liberal Party government in Canada which is on the “verge of agreeing something much more radical: a legal, regulated market for cannabis for recreational use,” Hague appealed to the Tory’s claim of being the party of pragmatism. He said it was time to be brave in the face of change.
“We are pragmatists, who change with society and revise our opinions when the facts change. On this issue, the facts have changed very seriously and clearly."
Adding that many police forces in the UK had already turned their focus off implementing cannabis law in favor of more serious crimes, Hague said: “Issuing orders to the police to defeat its use is about as up-to-date and relevant as asking the army to recover the Empire.
“This battle is effectively over,” he added.
Currently, cannabis is listed as a Class B drug, meaning it’s illegal to possess, give away or sell, including for pain relief. Penalties for possession include up to five years in prison.
Hague’s comments come as pressure mounts on the Home Office to implement a review of its existing medical cannabis policy, in order to bring it in line with other Western nations. A campaign led by parents, whose children benefit from the currently-illegal medical cannabis products, has gained nationwide media traction.
Their campaign has already gained the backing of Tory MP doctors, the all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform, and former health secretary Dan Poulter MP.
On Monday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government was not "getting the law on this kind of thing right," suggesting that a Home Office review would take place "as quickly as possible."
However, the idea of a review into even a narrow form of drug policy reform was almost immediately put down by the prime minister, who said there was a "very good reason" for the existing cannabis laws "because of the impact that they have on people's lives". She is now at odds with many in her party over the issue, as well as the public.
A recent YouGov poll put public support for the legalization of medical cannabis at 75 percent, while over 51 percent are in support of a softer stance on the herb, either supporting a legalized market or decriminalization.
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