British MPs will finally debate the legalisation of cannabis in parliament next month, after a public petition reached more than 200,000 signatures.
House of Commons authorities have confirmed the news and MPs will consider a proposal to make the “production, sale and use of cannabis legal” on Monday 12 October.
James Owen, a Welsh university student, started the petition back in July, arguing that legalising marijuana “could bring in £900million in taxes every year, save £400 million on policing cannabis and create over 10,000 new jobs”, and it quickly racked up hundreds of thousands of signatures.
The debate itself has been proposed by Labour MP Paul Flynn, a long-time campaigner for cannabis reform, and it will be the first time since 2004 that MPs have specifically debated legalising the drug.
Unfortunately for cannabis activists, next month’s debate seems unlikely to lead to any change in the law, after the Conservative government’s official response to the petition proved negative.
A government spokesperson said:
Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health. There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities.
Those backing the legalisation of weed vehemently disagree with that statement and have pointed to examples of the drug’s apparent health benefits and use in medicine. Plus, last month the U.S. government confirmed that cannabis does actually kill cancer cells.
Despite the Tories’ stance on the issue, many will hope that the discussion around the issue and the apparent public support for the drug’s legalisation will at least put pressure on the Government to act.