A Call for MPs to Back Cannabis Science

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I recently came across some research published in the British Medical Journal which I thought needed to be put under the noses of UK politicians. Yet again experts are calling out the terrible drug classification system employed in Britain, and highlighting ‘legal’ drugs as being far more dangerous than those which are subject to prohibition and punishment under the law.

Dear MP,

I’m writing in relation to the archaic laws on drugs we have in the UK. Please reply to my actual points rather than sending me the stock party e-mail about how drugs are bad, because that’s based on flawed thinking, or perhaps no thinking at all. The British Medical Journal has become the latest scientific organisation to state that cannabis is one of the safest substances people use to enjoy themselves, far below the likes of alcohol and tobacco, which the government happily allows to be sold.

http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/4/e000774.full

“The harm rankings of 19 commonly used substances did not match the A, B, C classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The legality of a substance of misuse is not correlated with its perceived harm. These results could inform any legal review of drug misuse and help shape public health policy and practice.”

Please can you raise the issue of drug laws which aren’t fit for purpose and seek to criminalise people for using drugs which are far less dangerous (both to society and self) than those which are on sale at every supermarket. It’s fraudulent to claim that this is done for the good of the individual, as you are threatening them with a criminal record. For what ends? To teach them a lesson? What lesson? They’ve made a good choice in the case of cannabis, in choosing it above the physically addictive and deadly substances that are tobacco and alcohol. Government policy forces people to use these genuinely dangerous substances while imprisoning those who make safer choices.

This is a disgrace, and I insist that sanity prevails. I have friends who wish to engage in voluntary charity work, but they can’t do so as they were cautioned for possession of cannabis almost a decade ago. Who is this helping? Society suffers when you brand good people as criminals, and this has to stop. A regulated system of cannabis sales would achieve the following:

  • remove dealers from street corners
  • require ID, ensuring children can’t easily get access
  • quality control and labelling
  • save billions on policing, so they can tackle dangerous criminals
  • add billions in tax revenue, rather than giving it to organised crime

There are millions of cannabis users in the UK, and it’s terrible that you are persecuting them based on how they choose to unwind. There’s no factual basis for this, as can be seen by the fact you’ll happily allow people to take more dangerous substances. A review by Professors Les Iversen and David Nutt suggested that by allowing legalised cannabis sales we might see a reduction of alcohol use by up to 25%. This alone would be a great improvement to public health, and remove some of the strain on the NHS, not to mention society, which would rather encounter somebody stoned than somebody drunk.

Your government allows GW Pharmaceuticals to grow cannabis and sell it at huge mark-up to the NHS. Can you explain why it’s considered safe in this instance, but not when it’s an individual growing it for themselves? Their product, Sativex, is a complete extraction from cannabis, covering every last chemical component. But they charge the NHS roughly £20k per year, per patient. People who suffer serious illness and need cannabis for pain relief are being rejected as £20k is too much for their primary care trust to authorise. There are multiple patients in prison currently for growing a plant to make up for their rejected (on financial grounds) Sativex application. We’re actively putting people in prison for growing their own medicine, which a doctor has verified they need. This is a disgrace to our nation. Why is cannabis fine when it’s a company marketing it to millions, for huge profits? Why does somebody growing to help cope with pain get thrown in prison? We’ve seen that American politicians are often motivated by money and the interests of big business, but I thought better of MPs here. Can you explain this disparity?

Will you stand-up for those who face imprisonment for growing their own medicine? Will you be on the side of citizens who contribute a lot to society, and simply wish to enjoy their spare time relaxing in a safer manner than alcohol drinkers? Will you stand against giving non-violent offenders a criminal record and making it even harder for them to find a job? Would you rather your child face prison rather than something more compassionate? I assume if they get caught with a more dangerous drug like alcohol you wouldn’t want them facing criminal prosecution, so why when it relates to something infinitely safer? I honestly don’t know who benefits from the current system, but it certainly isn’t the British public. According to a recent poll some 60% of us want cannabis to be decriminalised and sales regulated. What more do we need to prove to get the government to do what its employers and experts want? I’m very happy to work with you and iron out some of the facts if this isn’t your area of expertise, and I’m prepared to meet with you to discuss in more detail if that helps. Thanks for taking the time to read this. You could make a huge difference to millions of people.

Yours sincerely.

If you wish to contact your MP, you can do so at the Write To Them website. Please feel free to copy the body of my letter.

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