Former health minister Norman Lamb brought a Ten Minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons calling for the consumption and possession of cannabis to be legalized.
A Ten Minute Rule Bill is a type of Private Members’ bill governed by the ten-minute rule, wherein a backbench MP makes his or her case for a legislation in a speech that lasts up to 10 minutes. An opposition speech may be made before the House votes on whether or not the bill ought to be introduced.
Lamb also proposed to regulate marijuana production and distribution in the country.
The Liberal Democrat told other MPs about three of his constituents in North Norfolk who faced health issues that were effectively treated by cannabis. He also pointed out that while cannabis offers essential pain relief to one of these constituents, he has no other choice but to obtain it illegally.
Lamb noted that the recent reforms clearly are not working. This is why he is advocating for “a more enlightened approach.”
Moreover, Lamb pointed out that prohibition had not worked anywhere in the world and added that cannabis was available everywhere anyway.
He also proposed strict regulations when it comes to growing, selling, and marketing cannabis.
However, Lamb’s bill was rejected by 66 votes to 52.
MPs oppose legalization
Conservative MP Steve Double contested Lamb’s 10 Minute Rule Bill. According to Double, who is an evangelical Christian, he wanted to continue the so-called war on drugs and maintained that cannabis is a gateway drug and is dangerous.
While he recognizes that “something needs to be done,” he insisted that Lamb’s legislation proposal was not the answer.
According to Double, he has seen, first-hand, the lives that cannabis wrecks, the impact that the drug has on mental health, and the cost it has to individuals, families, communities, and to wider society.
He further contended that legalizing cannabis would send the wrong message to the youth, which is that marijuana is okay to use.
Lamb said that his bill offered a more rational alternative to the current mess. He noted that tens of thousands of young individuals are being criminalized for doing something that many of those who are in government have done at one stage in their lives.
Lamb also outlined the “postcode lottery” of policing now, as well as highlighted what he described as the “dreadful hypocrisy” of alcohol being legally allowed, taxed, and enjoyed by MPs in Westminster.
According to him, there is a hypocrisy in the fact that we allow our drug of choice while criminalizing those who use another drug, which is less dangerous and mostly for pain relief.
Lamb also stated that “the war on drugs has been a catastrophic failure.”
Cannabis in the UK
While medical cannabis has been partially legalized in the country, the restrictions have also been crippling. A lot of patients have said that the government’s move to allow specialists to prescribe medical cannabis has not made any difference at all because of the very stringent guidelines.
According to Lamb, the government reforms on medicinal cannabis has raised the expectations of those who use if for pain relief. Many, he said, have been going to their GPs, only to be told that there is no evidence of any beneficial effects. As a result, these people remain dependent on opioids, which have been proven to be highly addictive, very dangerous, and, in some instances, fatal.