In contrast to the lenient drug policies of many countries in the world, Cannabis in Britain is a Class B illegal drug.
The UK, in recent years, has been even stricter over its drug laws, as Marijuana was re-promoted to Class B status in 2009 after a five-year stint in the less harmful Class C level.
Possession of Weed could lead to five years in prison, a fine, and those found guilty of trafficking could be sent to prison for up to 14 years.
Some people are outraged that Weed is considered just as criminal as more ‘risky’ Class B drugs such as Speed, Ketamine and MCAT.
Likewise, many point to the fact that alcohol is legal to underline the absurdity of the illegality of Cannabis.
But who knows, perhaps weed will be legal in the UK at some point?
Britain doesn’t fall short of movements pushing for the legalisation of Cannabis. Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (CISTA), for example, is a political party launched in February 2015.
Although none of its candidates won a seat, they did accumulate 1000s of votes, which shows that there are people in the UK passionate enough to vote based on the subject. The 2015 online petition to ‘make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal’ gathered 236,995 signatures.
By law, petitions that accumulate more than 100,000 signatures must be reviewed by Parliament. With reluctance, the Members of Parliament conducted a debate on October 12, 2015. The debate was centered around the medical and therapeutical benefits and the economic arguments for and against its legalization.
The government’s conclusion, however, was that “Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health. There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities.”
The group APPG for Drug Policy Reform calls on the government to make Cannabis legal in Britain for medicinal uses. The group is made up of cross-party MPs and peers and they argue that Britain needs to fall in line with the other 11 European countries and 24 US states where Cannabis is used to alleviate chronic pain and other symptoms.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, for example, is behind the group’s research and report. She claims that drug reform would “give immediate relief to people in pain, and the evidence from around the world shows that it can be done without increasing drug-related harms.”
Chairing the argument for the Lib Dems, Norman Lamb compares Britain’s approach to drug policies to the issue of assisted dying, where he claims parliament is a long way behind the public. He agrues that these are “two great liberal issues where there is growing public opinion in favour of change.”
Opinion polls do suggest that nearly a half of the UK public back a regulated cannabis market. Norman Lamb thereby reasons that “parliament will be failing in its duty to reflect the will of the people if it continues to resist calls to introduce a regulated cannabis market.”
There are many arguments to suggest that the “war on drugs” actually drives dodgy underground production and sales. For instance, Labour MP Paul Flynn maintains that “Prohibition increases drugs use, harm and crime. It builds empires of criminals as the alcohol prohibition did in America in the twenties.”
Interestingly, he believes that the reluctance of the British MPs to review their drug policy is similar to the United States’ stubborn averseness to address its gun control policy, despite the overwhelming arguments for stricter laws.
Recently re-elected Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has declared that he would decriminalise Cannabis for medicinal purposes. However, he wants the public to be “educated away from it” and doesn’t support legalizing recreational drugs.
So whilst a change in government may alter Britain’s drug policy slightly, it’s doubtful that it would instigate a complete overturn.
So is it likely that Weed will ever be made legal in the UK?
I wouldn’t be counting down the days any time soon. Given that it’s already been discussed and reviewed in parliament fairly recently, it would take a great deal of political and public pressure to reopen the debate.