01 Nov The Duplicity And Deceit Of UK Drugs Policy
On 12th October, after more than 220,000 people had signed a government e-petition calling for cannabis to be legalised, Mike Penning MP, the drugs minister, responded to the debate. He said:
“I have every sympathy for my friends and members of my family who have had MS and the terrible pain and anguish that they go through because of an incurable disease. So I start from the premise of having sympathy. Let us see what we can do in the 21st century to take people out of that environment…we could look carefully… at the research. We need to look at why the research is not taking place and at the effects of certain parts of the legislation…We have cross-party agreement that we will look at research and see how we can help people. I am committed to that…It is crucial that we do not set ourselves in one position but that instead, we ask what research could help take things forward. That is what I have committed to doing and it is very important.” Source: Hansard
Then, on 26th October, in response to a written question, he said:
“The government’s position on the medicinal value of cannabis remains unchanged and no discussions are planned.” Source: Hansard
This is dishonest and a subversion of our democratic process. In the UK, despite its historical role as the mother of parliamentary democracy, government ministers are now entirely unaccountable. Even in their individual role as MPs they answer to the electorate only once every five years, a level of accountability which is ridiculous in the 21st century. Between elections they only need consider their party whips or the more senior ministers who hold power over their careers.
Mike Penning MP
In any other context, in business or in personal affairs, reneging on a promise as Mike Penning has done would have serious consequences. In some instances it might even bring him before the criminal courts. But Penning doesn’t give a damn, faces no consequences and he continues with impunity as any robber baron might have in the Middle Ages or any cowboy outlaw in the Wild West.
I have written to Mike Penning asking for an explanation and I have also written to my MP asking him to obtain an official explanation from the government. I ask you to do the same.