Former Conservative leader William Hague has called upon the government to “be bold” and follow Canada in legalising cannabis for recreational use.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said the eventual approval by the Home Office for medicinal cannabis oil to be used to treat epileptic youngster Billy Caldwell was evidence that a hard-line stance on the drug had become “inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date”.
The 12-year-old was made to wait almost a week before being allowed to use the drug his mother had brought home from Canada after it was confiscated by border officials at Heathrow Airport.
An expert panel of clinicians is to be set up to advise the government on applications to prescribe cannabis-based medications in the wake of the case, but Lord Hague has suggested an even more liberal position be taken.
“It’s time to acknowledge facts, and to embrace a decisive change that would be economically and socially beneficial, as well as rather liberating for Conservatives in showing sensible new opinions are welcome,” he wrote.
“Can British Conservatives be as bold as Canadian Liberals? We ought to be.”
Several Tory MPs have backed the call, including Theresa May’s former head of the prime minister’s policy board, George Freeman.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss also said she was “pleased to see progress on this issue” in response to news about the expert panel being set up.
But Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said he thought the government’s current strategy on drugs “remains the right approach”.
MPs may get a chance to vote on cannabis legalisation for medicinal use when Labour backbencher Paul Flynn tables a private member’s bill next month.
It was revealed back in April that Canada was set to legalise cannabis for recreational use by July next year, making it the first G7 industrialised nation to do so nationwide.
In the US, it is only allowed in the states of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.
Other countries, including Australia, Germany and Norway, only allow it to be used for medicinal purposes, while in many parts of the world it is entirely illegal.
In the UK – which is the world’s largest exporter of legal cannabis – it is a Class B drug and those found in possession face up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both, with supply and production resulting in up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
Lord Hague said “any war” to prevent use of the drug in the UK had been “irreversibly lost”, and that the idea it could be “driven off the streets” was “nothing short of deluded”.
“When a law has ceased to be credible and worth enforcing to many police as well as the public, respect for the law in general is damaged,” he wrote.
“We should have laws we believe in and enforce or we should just get rid of them.”
He said the only beneficiaries of the current stance were “organised crime gangs” involved in a “multi-billion pound black market” for the drug.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to allow this situation to continue – a major change in policy is necessary,” he said.
From – SkyNews