As Putin’s illegal invasion blazes on, legislators in Ukraine are looking to make an important reform to keep morale high – the legalisation of medical cannabis. In mid-July the Ukrainian parliament passed the first reading of a medical cannabis bill allowing for its purchase, distribution and prescription of medical cannabis. Campaigners say this will be crucial as Russia’s invasion has left over half the population at risk of developing PTSD.
As it stands, the bill doesn’t change cannabis’s standing as a prohibited substance – which would restrict research – however, according to Politico, legislators are now scrambling to change this. It’s good to see some joint-up thinking.
We’re seven months into the year and, with NHS waiting lists at an all-time high, Rishi’s making a hash of his five flagship pledges. However, the Prime Minister might be in luck as a new report could have an answer to one of his failing pledges. According to the Cannabis Industry Council, allowing GPs to prescribe cannabis could drastically reduce NHS waiting lists. Medical cannabis was first legalised in 2018 yet prescriptions can only be issued by specialists, meaning there are just 1,000 medical cannabis patients on the NHS every year. This is despite the fact one in three adults suffer from chronic pain – which cannabis is effective at treating. Allowing more prescriptions is one way patients could be weeded out of waiting lists…
The report relied on data from a range of international examples, including Australia, Germany and Denmark, where cannabis can already prescribed by GPs. Dr Sunil Arora, Co-Chair of the CIC Prescription Cannabis Working Group, said:
“The current model where only consultants can prescribe medical cannabis is simply not working in the interests of the majority of patients or society at large. Allowing GPs to prescribe would expand patient access, reduce NHS waiting lists, and help cut crime.”
It’s time for some joint-up thinking.
Co-conspirators can read the full report here.
In a week where the government announced a ban on Nitrous Oxide, public support for cannabis legalisation remains high. New polling, conducted by Omnisis finds that 55% of British voters support legalisation – under a third want to maintain the status quo. Support for legalisation was found across all age groups. Even Conservative voters were more in favour than against.
The poll also asked voters to rank which substances were most damaging to public health – cocaine came out top, followed by alcohol, then tobacco and weed. Laughing Gas came in last place, with just 6% ranking it as the most dangerous. The government’s crackdown is misplaced.
Sunday saw a landslide election victory for Labour in Malta, delivering the party a third term victory against the odds. The win came despite the forced resignation of the disgraced former PM, Joseph Muscat, in January 2020. Muscat’s fall from grace took place during the investigation that followed the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Despite these major scandals, Partit Laburista were victorious; helped on their way to victory by legalising cannabis for personal use last year.
They were advised by a British political consultant who had been playing a key behind-the-scenes role in the campaign advising ministers on how to move on from Muscat and clean up their image at home and abroad. David Taylor, who cut his teeth as a young New Labour staffer and SpAd in the Blair-Brown years, has a reputation for deploying a robust approach to campaigns. It’s a style which clearly found favour in Malta, the small island nation known for its deep-rooted partisan tribalism, where Prime Minister Robert Abela increased both Labour’s share of the vote and its majority over the opposition Nationalist Party.
Ironically, five years ago when David Taylor stood for North Wales Police Commissioner on a “zero tolerance platform” promising to be tough on crime, Taylor said he would “wage war on drugs and trafficking by Manchester and Merseyside gangs”. He even promised a Rudy Giuliani-style war on “anti-social riffraff who threaten to ruin so many lives”. He lost.
Now the government he advises, which legalised cannabis in December, has just won an election on the back of going in the opposite direction and liberalising. Legalising drugs can be electorally popular – who knew?
Today (April 20) is Marijuana Day, and next month Switzerland will pilot Europe’s first fully-legal regulated cannabis market for adult use. In Switzerland as in Britain, prohibition has failed to address a thriving criminal market, so public health officials now see regulation as part of the answer to get drugs under control. The decade-long experiment aims “to increase knowledge on the advantages and disadvantages of controlled access to cannabis, and to provide a solid scientific basis for any future decision-making on cannabis regulation”. Sensible and rational, unlike the sometimes hysterical debate in Britain.
Despite Boris’s insistence this week that he has “absolutely no intention of legalising cannabis“, a new poll from YouGov shows that 52% of Brits nonetheless support the idea across the UK, with just 32% either leaning against legalisation or entirely opposed to it. It seems Boris Johnson has joined Sir Keir in misreading the ‘British instinct’…
Guido’s view on this is quite simple. Legalising cannabis would undercut criminal enterprises, raise tax revenues, and ultimately reduce the health risks to the individual. It might reduce the number of turf war stabbings plaguing our cities as well. There’s no need for Sadiq’s ‘review’ into decriminalisation; the benefits are already clear to see from neighbouring countries. It’s high time for a change to the UK’s drug laws…