Spoke of a postcode lottery in policing and convictions, and racial and socio-economic disparity. She said that criminalisation hinders job prospects and whilst she doesn’t want to see cannabis legalised for medical use as we have Sativex she urges change on this aspect to free up access to this prescription medicine.
Mike Penning MP (Hemel Hempstead) (CON) and Minister for State for Justice
Justice Minister Mike Penning refused to consider the decriminalisation of cannabis though did make small and coded references to “looking at evidence” for how the current act is affecting people.
“I am not going to stand here and say we are going to legalise cannabis. From a moral position, from a government position, from a personal position.”
He did concede that there may be scope for doing research on the effects that some of the legislation has had:
“There is conflicting evidence in studies across the world.”
He says in Portugal they have a completely different strategy with their health service, and its “too early” to see what’s happening in Washington.
He was interrupted once by Caroline Lucas who with incredulity stated that:
It was shocking that despite his lip service to the medical professionals who spoke in the debate, Penning appears to have “little interest in the evidence” available.
In his closing argument, Paul Flynn begged the government to "think again and help MS sufferers to ease their pain" - to a quickly admonished round of applause from the public gallery.
and added “Does anyone believe that that law is sensible? That law is an ass! For so long, this House has been held back from full-scale reform by the timidity of Members of Parliament, because of a reluctance to reform for fear of being attacked by the media and losing votes. Now is the time for compassion and courage"
I agree with him!
The debate has provided a huge amount of compelling evidence and from the MPs who were present, took part and who I would like to extend the thanks of all
United Patients Alliance
patients for their passion and commitment. The government through their Minister for Justice, Mike Penning have once again ignored justice and have stuck firmly to their evidence free position without offering any reasonable or rational justification. He seemed particularly proud of the information, based on 14 year old, inaccurate research from a single organisation, The Royal College of Psychiatry, which presumably he had to try really hard to find but ignores the comments from these other expert organisations:
For Mike Penning to say "
I have every sympathy for my friends and members of my family who have had MS and the terrible pain and anguish that they go through because of an incurable disease. So I start from the premise of having sympathy"
and then to ignore most of the points raise and restating the government's intention to continue their criminalisation is uncaring, ignorant, insulting and ultimately totally unsympathetic. My Penning, you are a
and a liar and you should be ashamed of yourself.
He did concede that legal medical access to cannabis based pharmaceuticals and addressing the research difficulties were things for them to “look at”, he completely ignored every other point made which challenged this harmful, costly and ineffective law.
We, the 3.6m regular cannabis consumers of the UK demand that the government provide a detailed, referenced and properly considered response to all the points raised within the debate. Anything less would show this process to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
I would ask them directly the 2 questions asked by Norman Lamb to which Mr Penning refused to answer:
- ·Does the Minister really think it is appropriate to give someone who is perhaps suffering from mental ill health a criminal record?
- ·Can the Minister give any explanation of why it makes sense for that more dangerous product to be legal while a less dangerous product is illegal?”
We really must NOT let the government get away with ignoring this very important issue any more, The evidence of the medical, legal, financial and social benefits is available and unquestionable and the evidence for its harms, sparse and flaky at best. The evidence for the damage that prohibition causes to a significant proportion of the 3.6m cannabis consumers in the UK is irrefutable But the worst of it is that there are up to 1m active British citizens who consume cannabis to help with their medical conditions, 30000, we know of, with the blessing of their doctors, choose to consume something that helps them manage their symptoms, treat their illnesses and improves their lives will still be forced to live in discomfort and pain or risk accessing a criminal market and run the risk of criminalisation for doing so.
It is time to redouble our efforts. Write again to MPs and demand a proper, respectful response. Be in their email boxes, in their media, in their offices and in their faces. We absolutely will not stop until they listen and ACT.
Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance
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