16 Oct If Your MP Isn’t On This List You Need to Have A Word. Next Steps After The Cannabis Debate.

Cannabis debate in Westminster 12th October 2015

The Cannabis Debate in Westminster 12th October 2015

These Are The MPs Who Did Their Duty And Attended The Debate:

Lyn Brown, Labour, West Ham (Shadow Home Office minister)
Lisa Cameron, Scottish National Party, East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow
Nigel Evans, Conservative, Ribble Valley (Chair of the debate)
Paul Flynn, Labour, Newport West
Cheryl Gillan, Conservative, Chesham and Amersham (Chair of the debate)
Sylvia Hermon, Independent, North Down
George Howarth, Labour, Knowsley
Rupa Huq, Labour, Ealing Central and Acton
Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat, North Norfolk
Peter Lilley, Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden
Caroline Lucas, Green, Brighton Pavilion
Anne McLaughlin, Scottish National Party, Glasgow North East
Paul Monaghan, Scottish National Party, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
Mike Penning, Conservative, Hemel Hempstead (Home Office minister)
Dr Dan Poulter, Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich
Graham Stuart, Conservative, Beverley and Holderness
Andrew Turner, Conservative, Isle of Wight

It’s important to point out that four MPs were there because they had to be. Lyn Brown was there as a shadow Home Office minister. Nigel Evans and Cheryl Gillan were there because they took turns to chair the debate. Mike Penning was there as the Home Office minister with responsibility for drugs policy.

If your MP didn’t attend the debate, particularly if you wrote asking them to, it is your right (I would argue it’s your duty) to complain and ask for an explanation.

There are very few reasonable excuses. If your MP is a government minister then he or she wouldn’t have been able to speak and may well have ministerial duties which would take priority. Other than that, apart from sickness or some other emergency, if your MP failed to represent you then you need to write, ask for an explanation and what will they do instead to advance your views to government.

Excellent work was done in lobbying MPs before the debate. I doubt that so many letters and emails have been sent to MPs on the subject before. Now is not the time to be downhearted, now is the time to keep up the pressure.

You can find out who your MP is by entering your postcode on this website

You can find out your MP’s email address by looking their name up here

You can also Google your MP’s name which will lead you to their personal website and more contact details.

You can write by letter to your MP at:

<MP’s name>,
House of Commons,
London, SW1A 0AA

Most important is that you must include your full postal address and postcode to show that you are a constituent. Without this your email or letter will be ignored.

Either an email or a letter is fine but you might want to consider doing both!

We are not providing a template letter for reasons already explained. They simply do not work anymore. The activities of mass lobbying groups like 38 Degrees have really stymied individual lobbying efforts because they have swamped MPs with ludicrous quantities of emails. Consequently, to stand any chance of getting any attention your email needs to be clearly an individual, personal message.

Above all, please be polite. Aggression or hostility will get you nowhere. I met several MPs in the run up to the debate who were clearly surprised about how much correspondence they were getting but more than one mentioned that they were unmoved by people getting angry with them by demanding the right to use cannabis.

Asking questions is very important. If you don’t get answers you’re entitled to write again and insist. So these are the points you need to make. Incorporate them into an email or letter in your own words.

Five Point Plan.

  1. I was disappointed you didn’t attend the cannabis debate (after I wrote asking you to represent my views) Why were you not there?
  2. Nearly 250,000 people signed the petition to legalise cannabis. That makes it the second largest petition ever and shows it is of huge public concern. As only 17 MPs turned up to the debate what is the point of the petition website? What excuse do MPs have for ignoring this demonstration of democracy?
  3. A great deal of evidence was presented in the debate about the benefits of legalisation but none from the government about the possible harms of legalisation. Why? What evidence does the government have supporting its position?
  4. The only evidence the government has offered on the subject is the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) report from 2008. This does not support present policy. It says cannabis should be class C and that the criminal justice measures do not work and public health strategies are needed instead. Why is the government misrepresenting the evidence?
  5. Please will you write to government ministers on my behalf and get answers to these questions?

Please make sure you do this. We will win this war against cannabis prohibition if we keep up sustained pressure. There is no valid reason to oppose reform and no evidence that supports present policy. We must keep up the lobbying effort. Persistent, polite pressure will work. Please do your bit. If we all work together we will prevail.

If you don’t get a response from your MP then please write again. Don’t be shy about saying you ‘insist’ on a response but do remain polite. If you still don’t get a response then make an appointment to see your MP at their constituency surgery. It may be possible to have a CLEAR representative come with you if you ask in good time. Email: [email protected]

Please send any responses received to: [email protected]

Peter Reynolds