Lib Dems officially back cannabis legalisation

They become the only major party to support legalisation of cannabis for recreational use


With an overwhelming majority, the Liberal Democrats Conference has passed a motion to legalise the recreational use of cannabis, in a self-conscious demonstration of its commitment to liberal values.

The debate centred on the public health benefits of legalisation, the regressive social impacts of criminalisation (particularly on working class and BME communities) the waste of police time and resources, and the need to end trafficking and the dangers associated with illegal dealing.

The party also claims that legalisation could generate up to £1bn in additional tax revenue.

Proposed by Norman Lamb, party health spokesperson, the motion rested on a report produced by an independent panel of experts, outlining a framework for legalisation and regulation.

It stipulates that:

  • Cannabis should be sold over the counter by licensed vendors, in plain, childproof packaging and with appropriate health warnings. It would come in three different strengths – lower medium and higher.
  • Consumption should be limited to those over 18.
  • Homegrown cultivation of up to four plants should be permitted.
  • Small-scale, licensed ‘cannabis social clubs’ of fewer than 100 adults should be permitted, although Dutch-style ‘cafes’ are discouraged.
  • A regulator should be established to oversee the cannabis market.

Commenting on the result, Lamb commented:

“I’m very proud this party has taken a principled stand and led the way. The war on drugs has been a catastrophic failure.

“We give billions of pounds every year to organised crime; too many people have lost their lives in places such as central and southern America  and we criminalise thousands of people, blighting their careers. When people buy cannabis from criminals, they have no idea what they are buying.

“No criminal is interested in your welfare. So regulating the sale of cannabis, controlling the potency and taking the trade away from criminals makes sense in terms of public health and community safety.”

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3 Responses to “Lib Dems officially back cannabis legalisation”

  1. Alice

    I would disagree with the tagline of this article. According to the UK Parliament website, both the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have roughly 61,000 members. By rights then, the Green Party is as much a major party as the Lib Dems.

    The Green Party manifesto states: Cannabis would be removed from the 1971 Misuse of drugs act. The possession, trade and cultivation of cannabis would be immediately decriminalised, roughly following the Dutch model. The trade in Cannabis would be the subject of a Royal Commission (see below), with a view to establishing a fully legalised, controlled and regulated trade

  2. Malcolm Kyle

    The discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the single most important scientific medical discovery since the recognition of sterile surgical technique. As our knowledge expands, we are coming to realize that the ECS is a master control system of virtually all physiology. The total effect of the ECS is to regulate homeostasis and prevent disease and aging. The more we learn, the more we realize that we are in the infancy of this scientific field of study. The ECS is a control system which involves tissue receptor proteins, cellular communication and control, molecular anatomy and the scavenging of oxygen free radicals. This new field of science will change medicine forever and prove cannabis the gold standard for many disease processes. Its effect on scavenging oxygen free radicals is applicable to all disease processes and this is why it has such wide medical application and is considered a cure-all by many.

    The discovery of the ECS will replace the current medical system of managing and treating disease. Instead of management of symptoms after disease has occurred, we will prevent disease and cancer by manipulation of the ECS.

    Research and education of medical students involving the ECS is being intentionally restricted by politics. No justification can be made for the restriction of the scientific study of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. What is the danger of providing government-grown and tested cannabis to researchers? Diversion of research cannabis for non-scientific or recreational purposes does not seem to be a serious threat to national security.

    By Dr David Allen

  3. nicola pilkington

    I am very concerned that this call to decriminalize Cannabis for recreational purposes will further postpone legislation to legalize it for medical purposes other than for MS. GW Pharmaceuticals have very recently announced successful Stage 3 trials using Cannabis extract on difficult to treat Epilepsy. The availability of this medication could be put on hold for years whilst the argument is ongoing about whether to decriminalize it or not. There are many people who have either uncontrolled Epilepsy or suffer terrible side effects such as memory loss from anti epileptic medications. There is now enough evidence to demonstrate that the product GW Pharmaceuticals have been trialling could be of a huge benefit in the future. I am an Epilepsy sufferer and have no financial interest in the company.

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