In response to a public petition demanding that the United Kingdom repeal prohibition, Parliament has announced that it will put the issue of marijuana legalization up for debate at the beginning of next month.
Reports indicate the House of Commons is scheduled to discuss the possibility of legalizing a nationwide cannabis industry on October 12. This discussion is expected to cover a wide range of topics from how to handle the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana to determining appropriate possession amounts for personal use.
This debate, which will be overseen by Labour MP and longtime medical marijuana supporter Paul Flynn, is the fortunate byproduct of a young student from Aberystwyth University, who blew an international legion of marijuana activists away by successfully collecting well over 150,000 signatures in support of pot legalization within just a few days.
His parliamentary petition was simple. It suggested that the legalization of a substance that has been banned throughout the nation since 1925 could generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and create thousands of new jobs.
Although no one knew exactly what to expect from passing such a successful plea through Parliament’s petitions website, the victory had everyone waiting on a bended knee for an official response.
Unfortunately, the U.K. Government fired back with the typical prohibitionary reaction, arguing straight out of what appeared to be a chapter from the White House’s book of reefer madness.
“Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health,” the response read. “There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities.”
While Parliament is obligated to debate the issue, there is not much of a chance that it will be taken seriously. Last year, a discussion on drug reform took place in October, and only 21 out of over 600 MPs cared enough to show up. It is for this reason that Britain’s leading marijuana reform group, Clear UK, is urging citizens to write to their MPs and encourage them to attend.
Meanwhile, the United Patients Alliance, an organization in the U.K. lobbying for the legalization of medical marijuana, hopes to at least persuade the House of Commons to side with their mission.
“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 criminalization,” said Jon Liebling, political director for the UPA.
Despite the obvious public support for ending prohibition, the U.K. has been hard at work to impose stricter penalties on drug offenders over the past few years. Some of these sentences rival some of the harshest in the United States. Possession of marijuana can get a person sent to the slammer for five years, while distribution comes with a maximum of nearly 15 years behind bars.
The Parliamentary debate over marijuana legalization will be steamed live on Monday, October 12. You can watch it HERE.