The British Parliament will next month begin debating whether or not marijuana will be legalized according to a Government official.
He said beginning Monday, October 12th, Members of Parliament (MPs) will debate a proposal which seeks to make the “production, sale and use of cannabis legal.”
The debate, which will be led by legal marijuana proponent and member of Parliament’s petitions committee Labour MP Paul Flynn, is in response to an official petition on the Parliament website which garnered 211,000 signatures.
Flynn has in the past called for the legalisation of medical marijuana, introducing bills in 1999, as well as supporting another in partnership with Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake in 2008.
Political experts say the upcoming debate will most probably not lead to current marijuana law changes, but it could put pressure on the Government to change its relatively hardline against marijuana.
In its official response to the petition, the Government said “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” , adding legalisation would “send the wrong message”.
When pressed by media to make a comment on whether the Government believed marijuana was more harmful than alcohol, no response was forthcoming.
A recent study published in the U.S, which British marijuana legalization activists cite frequently, found that marijuana users were no more likely than non users to suffer mental health problems including psychosis or depression.
The political director of the British United Patients alliance Jon Liebling, a pro-medical cannabis lobby, said: “We urge all of our MPs to participate in an informed, pragmatic, evidence-based, compassionate debate resulting at the very least in allowing sick people a legitimate, effective medicine that vastly improves their quality of life without fear of criminalisation.”
Over recent years the UK has bucked the international trend of many developed countries either legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana use, by actually tightening restrictions. Six years ago the Government moved its classification of marijuana back to a Class B drug, which means anyone prosecuted for possessing marijuana can face a five year prison sentence, while suppliers can get 14 years.