When United Patients Alliance formed in Brighton in July 2014, we did so with the support of Caroline Lucas MP and the Green Party. Our Founder and Director, Clark French had already met with the now Former Home Office Drugs Minister Norman Baker who has recently announced his Patronage of UPA as an MS Patient along with Epilepsy sufferer, Keiron Reeves. By the time the year was done we were engaging with the the Liberal Democrats Party through events and patients meeting the Deputy PM Nick Clegg Support from them is locked in and we have a few more announcements to make there too shortly.
Now in our 3rd year - seems the Labour Party are finally starting to bite!
This has not happened by accident, you know! United Patients Alliance have been being a thorn in their sides for ages - Really - we don't give up! How can we - our illnesses don't!
On March 14th 2015 on BBC's Free Speech, Faye Jones wearing UPA Purple asked a great question to the wannabe leader Ed Milliband - I mean a GREAT question, with follow up - and you gotta wait until the end.......
Only 6 months past to the Labour Leadership Election Debate. Up UPA pop again with another question, this time to all the potential leaders
Great answer, Jeremy - but isn't it about time you followed through on that?
And now just a couple of weeks ago we have Paul Flynn MP calling for Civil Disobedience in Parliament:
"I call on Patients to come to Parliament and break the law"
We have, of course, answered Paul's call. He has stood up in the House of Commons as the Labour MP for Newport West and spoken out for cannabis law reform for 30 years. 116 times over the last 20. So we have arranged a very civil bit of disobedience with Paul and in honour of his relentless and long support. His local Police and Crime Commissioner, Arfon Jones from Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales) will also attend in support along with a few other politicians we hope will be joining many patients for a bit of a (medicated) T-Party on the Lawn outside Parliament. An opportunity to present a different image for the UK Media to focus on. Patients medicating safely at a quintessentially English T-Party.
Paul has told us that he has been pleasantly surprised at how much support he has received from others within the Labour Party for a Private Bill on October 10th to reschedule cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, which defines it in UK law as having no recognised medical benefit and high potential for abuse. By moving cannabis out to any other schedule would have the immediate impact of making licence applications much more likely to succeed and significantly reduce the costs and time of research into the benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids. The next impact would be that once there has been sufficient education for doctors, they would be able to recommend it for their Patients and Pharmacies could be licensed to import "pharmaceutical grade" cannabis from producers such as Bedrocan, Tilray or any other.
We don't expect it will actually have the impact of changing the Schedule, Private Members Bills rarely get past a second reading, but it will raise awareness and if it helps to bring more public support from Labour Party MPs then that will really help.
Also - Paul is now helping to work on the rest of the Labour Party:
It’s time for Labour to back patients when it comes to medical marijuana
Founder and Director Clark French went along with Tasha Dean and Chris Hobday to visit their local Labour MP Lloyd Russel Moyle just the other week too: Meeting Lloyd Russell Moyle - Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown - Russell will be speaking at our next Patient Perspective event in Brighton, coming up shortly.
Bur before that: On September 30th at United Patients Alliance Medical Cannabis Conference and AGM - the next steps in our plans for Labour will become very much clearer! Yes - That's Paul Flynn MP - and Tonia Antoniazzi MP too.....