Getting to Know - Caroline Lucas
Caroline Patricia Lucas (born 9 December 1960) is a British politician, and since 2 September 2016, Co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Brighton Pavilion since the 2010 general election, when she became the Green Party's first MP. She was re-elected in the 2015 and 2017 general elections with an increased majority.
Lucas was elected the first Leader of the Green Party in 2008 and was elected to represent the constituency of Brighton Pavilion in the 2010 general election. She stood down as party leader in 2012 to devote more time to her parliamentary duties and focus on an ultimately successful campaign to be re-elected as an MP. She returned to a party leadership role in September 2016, when she was elected as Co-Leader as part of a job-sharing arrangement with Jonathan Bartley.
She is known as a campaigner and writer on green economics, localisation, alternatives to globalisation, trade justice, animal welfare and food. In her time as a politician and activist, she has worked with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and think-tanks, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Oxfam.
What I Stand For and Why?
We have asked our Trustees and Patrons some "Quick-Fire" Questions so you can get to know a little more about their involvement with United Patients Alliance and capture their thoughts on how medical cannabis policy is progressing the UK.
Why do you support patients accessing cannabis as medicine?
I believe government policies should be based on evidence – and the evidence for the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for people with a wide range of conditions is incredibly strong. No one should be criminalised for seeking medicine proven to ease their pain.
How did you first get involved with cannabis as medicine law change/campaigning?
I’ve always been passionate about drug policy reform because I’ve seen just how much damage our current policies do. A constituent raised with me the specific problems around access to medicinal cannabis, and the more I learned about it, the more shocked I was. I then hosted a meeting about it in my Brighton constituency and was struck by just how many people came.
Why did you choose to get involved with United Patients Alliance?
I support the United Patients Alliance because I believe the people suffering most from the current state of our laws should be at the forefront of the campaign to legalise medical cannabis.
What is your personal background and why is this relevant to cannabis as medicine?
When I was elected as an MP for Brighton, I learned more about the impact drugs policies were having on my local community, which reinforced my commitment to changing these laws for the better. Drug policy reform is also a long standing Green Party policy.
What are the most compelling arguments for legal access to cannabis as medicine?
For me, one of the most striking contradictions in our drugs laws is that doctors can freely prescribe opiates to relieve people’s pain, but are banned from recommending cannabis – despite all the compelling evidence proving its effectiveness. When I hear stories about children with epilepsy or people suffering with chronic pain, and how cannabis provides the relief they need to enjoy life, I can see no justification for preventing them accessing this crucial medicine.
What are the biggest hurdles in the UK to achieving legal access to cannabis as medicine?
Right now politicians are standing in the way of science. Drugs policy currently lies with the Home Office, instead of the Department of Health where it belongs – which means the Government is approaching cannabis as a criminal issue and disregarding expert evidence about its medical benefits
What existing systems/policies for accessing cannabis as medicine would you support and why?
I want to see the Government urgently legalising the production and use of medicinal cannabis by following the evidence about what kind of regulatory framework will best work for patients and for society as a whole.
What are your biggest concerns right now for future medical cannabis legislation in the UK?
I’m concerned that the Government is attempting to save face by making special allowances for individual cases – instead of acknowledging the incredibly widespread benefits of legalisation. Ministers don’t seem to grasp the urgency of this issue for thousands of people suffering from pain and chronic illness around the country.
Do you have personal experience consuming cannabis?
I’ve used it recreationally a few times in the past.
Why is the 2018 UPA Medical Cannabis Patient Survey so important?
It’s so important that politicians hear directly from the people affected by our current laws on cannabis – patients’ experiences should inform new policies, and this is your chance to contribute to real change.
Thank you Caroline!