UPDATE 20th Feb 2018

The bill's chances, both of being read and being supported just got a WHOLE lot better thanks to an URGENT question raised in the House of Commons, today at 15:30.

Crispin Blunt raised the question on Medical Cannabis access siting the harrowing story of Alfie, the 6 year old boy with severe epilepsy who has been in the news over the last few days. The question was aggressively supported by several MPs from ALL parties during the session where many of the MPs who are writing the bill were present

The Home Office Spokesperson, Nick Hurd MP, assured everyone present several times that the issues would be discussed at Paul Flynn's bill on Friday!

We're on! You don't want to miss this!

So here we are again for the second reading of Paul Flynn's #ElizabethBriceBill for the Legalisation of Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes) Bill 2017-19 on February 23rd 2018.

United Patients Alliance, in collaboration with our Patron, Paul Flynn MP will be hosting Patients at Parliament 2 another protest event to support the bill and, of course, hope that this will bring the same kind of success as the first on October 10th 2017

I spoke at some length with Paul Flynn on Friday and can now update you all on what we can expect:

Success is not measured purely on the Passing of the Bill; regardless of whether the bill even has the time to be read, or whether it gets the required support in the House of Commons, being able to show progress, raise awareness, increase political, public and media support for change, whilst helping to reduce the stigma and present the mainstream media with a more up to date and honest image of cannabis consumers, especially in relation to consumption for medical purposes are all reasons to attend and support this protest and contribute to it's success.

Who is preparing the Elizabeth Brice Bill?

Whilst the proposer of the bill is, of course, our patron, Paul Flynn MP, there are many other MPs across the House and from many parties involved in the wording.

  • Frank Field (Lab)
  • Caroline Lucas (Green)
  • Mary Glindon (Lab)
  • Jeff Smith (Lab)
  • Kelvin Hopkins (Lab)
  • Crispin Blunt (Con)
  • Michael Fabricant (Con)
  • Martyn Day (SNP)
  • Ronnie Cowan (SNP)
  • Layla Moran (Lib Dem)
  • Alastair Carmichael (Lib Dem) 

Even now, the final wording is still being decided and it maybe only a few days before the bill is due for its second reading on February 23rd that the text will be made public. We can, at this stage, assume that Rescheduling Cannabis out of Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act will certainly be there.

What are the chances of success?

The likelihood of any private members bill (PMB) passing into law is very small indeed. Only 3 PMBs under the ten-minute rule have made it through into law in the last 20 years. However, it is worth noting that Paul Flynn, who is highly experienced after serving as an MP for 35 years, is well versed in how to maximise chances of success evidenced by the fact that 1 of those 3 bills was raised by him!

Will the bill actually get a reading?

On February 23rd, private members bills will be read from 11am and the session will finish at 2.30pm. There are many other bills on the schedule and a few before this one.

The good news here is that up until this weekend, Paul Flynn's bill was listed as 6th on the schedule.  It seems now that it has been promoted to 3rd - I suspect this is due to Paul working and lobbying hard in the background. (Always subject to change - always)

  1. Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Geoffrey Robinson
  2. Overseas Electors Bill - 2nd reading - Glyn Davies
  3. Legalisation of Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes) Bill - 2nd reading - Paul Flynn
  4. Child Maintenance (Assessment of Parent's Income) Bill - 2nd reading - Heidi Allen

Full List here: Parliamentary Calendar

Of course, it is Paul's and our hope that this doesn't happen, but it is possible/probable that the bills in front could take all that time available, either because there are many MPs who want to have their say or, more controversially, if an MP chooses to filibuster.

Will the bill pass? What happens next?

Paul thinks that the answer to this is quite simple: If the bill gets government support, it will pass. If it does not, it will not. The Government could send in a filibuster or they could fill the chamber with their MPs only to vote against it - OR - To support it? The biggest impact we can have on this, is to write/email/tweet/meet YOUR MP and demand they attend and support it on your behalf and come along yourself, of course and make sure they can hear us on the day.

Please, if you haven't done already - Write to Your MP NOW - Click here for help with that.

If the bill passes, we will all be screaming and jumping for joy, the bill will be passed its biggest hurdle and will move to the committee stage by a given date and we can all look forward to cannabis as medicine. I have to add that Paul Flynn has been astute in wording the bill title to include the dates 2017-19 which means that if parliamentary time runs out, it can be carried forward into the the next parliamentary session. This applies even if the bill is not read - it can be scheduled for a future date, rather than having to go back to the beginning again. Nice one, Paul!

It is during the committee and subsequent stages that the real work of parliament begins and details of what will actually be delivered by the implementation of the bill will be investigated, debated analysed and detailed and you can rest assured that United Patients Alliance are perfectly placed to be consulted and play a significant role in how this progresses.

What if it doesn't pass? What happens next?

If the bill does not actually get read, then thanks to our wiley Patron, Paul Flynn's wording, the second reading will just get rescheduled for a later date and planning for the next protest will begin.

If, however, it does get read and gets rejected - then, I'm afraid we really are back to square one - Paul will almost certainly raise another one for us all to rally behind for next time.

What we can do is keep making the case, keep pursuing political means of change, and keep risking acts of public disobedience. Each time we do this, when it is done right, we change hearts and minds all over the country and increase support. Soon, the political class will see sense, or just find a bit more courage.

What are the goals of the protest?

Besides being there to show support for the bill, the goals are simple really: Raise awareness, change perceptions, show progress.

Our last protest was attended by 4 serving MPs and a Police and Crime Commissioner and whilst I can't go into details or make absolute promises just yet (watch this space) we are going to have quite a few more MPs this time and one or two more senior MPs than our cause has ever seen before. It is possible we may actually have a senior MP from every major party in attendance! Yes - every! Wow! 

Whilst we are still in planning, details about our Patients At Parliament Protest can be found by clicking the poster below.

BIG BIG Thanks to our sponsors for #PatientsAtParliament:

Thanks also go to all those fabulous patients/supporters/followers who have donated to help us put this protest on again. United Patients Alliance is made up of patients who give their time and resources for free, so we could not do what we do without your donations which will also help us get broader and wider media coverage for the cause.

Please click here, if you would like to donate: 

Weʼre raising £2,500 to help fund the second protest for Paul Flynn's Elizabeth Brice Bill for medical cannabis in the UK

I and everyone from United Patients Alliance look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the protest on the day. Every voice, every patient, every supporter adds impact. Wear something purple? ;)


Jon Liebling - Political Director