History of CLEAR

CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform was founded as the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) in March 1999 when it registered as political party with the Electoral Commission. It had evolved from the “Campaign to Legalise Cannabis International Association” (CLCIA), a Norwich based campaign created folLowing the demise of the original Legalise Cannabis Campaign.

The party campaigned for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use, as biomass, hemp-based products and recreational drug use. It fielded candidates in both parliamentary and local government elections. In 2004 cannabis was downgraded to a class C drug and many people believed that it was only a matter of time before decriminalisation. In 2006 the members voted to de-register as a political party.

In 2009, after a resurge in ‘reefer madness’ led by the Daily Mail and supported by the new prime minister, Gordon Brown, cannabis was upgraded back to a class B drug. Virtually all expert opinion was opposed to this and in later years it was shown that cannabis consumption had actually fallen during the period it was class C and had increased when it was upgraded back to B.

The campaign fell into the doldrums in a climate of hostile media reporting but reducing police interest in bringing prosecutions.

In February 2011, largely as a result of increasing interest in medicinal use, the members voted to re-register as a political party and elected Peter Reynolds as leader. Proposals were brought forward to rename the party as CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform and to adopt a new constitution, aims and objectives. These were carried by a two-thirds majority of members in a referendum.

Peter Reynolds stood as a candidate in the Corby by-election in November 2012. It cost the party more than £6000 to participate in the election. The following year a general meeting of members decided not to renew registration with the Electoral Commission as the money spent on elections could be more effectively used.

In September 2011, at a press conference in the House of Commons, the party published a study commissioned from the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit. This has formed a database from which all the party’s policies have been developed.

The party grew exponentially from early 2011 and by the beginning of 2015 had more than 300,000 followers and well over 1,000 fully paid up members.

Particularly since mid 2013, the party has made excellent progress in Parliament and government with progressing access to medicinal cannabis. Meetings with ministers and key stakeholders are now regular occurrences. There is every cause for optimism for reform of the laws governing medicinal use within the near future.