18 Jun What Happened In The House Of Lords About Cannabis?

Yesterday, Wednesday 17th June, Baroness Molly Meacher asked a question about cannabis in the House of Lords.

There is a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding about what happened, so I shall do my best to explain.

A video of the eight minute debate is available here. A full transcript is here.

Baroness Meacher

Baroness Meacher

This was not a full debate. There never was any prospect of any law being changed. It was simply a question, which would be answered by the government spokesman and Lady Meacher would then have the opportunity to ask a further, supplementary question. In the process, other members of the House would be able to interject and make their own comments.

The question was whether cannabis could be re-scheduled, out of schedule one, which determines that it has no medicinal value, to schedule two or three which would allow doctors to prescribe it and also enable researchers to access and use cannabis more easily in studies and clinical trials.

Lord Bates

Lord Bates

The government behaved exactly as expected. The most generous interpretation is that the spokesman, Lord Bates, was misinformed. His first response to Lady Meacher’s question was to parrot the Home Office’s usual line on cannabis being a harmful drug.

This of course, is nothing to do with medicinal use. Most medicines are far more harmful than cannabis and any potential harms are traded off against therapeutic benefit.

I know some people are already accusing Lord Bates of being a ‘liar’ but this is not true. He simply has no idea what he is talking about and his briefing from Home Office officials is designed not to inform but to deflect, confuse and retain control within the bureaucracy. The claim that the Advisory Council recommends against medicinal cannabis is factually incorrect. The ACMD is not constituted to advise on the medicinal benefits of any drug.

So ignore what the government said. It is largely irrelevant to the process of informing and changing minds amongst those in power. They will instruct officials and spokespeople as necessary once they understand a more successful path forwards.

Lord Howarth

Lord Howarth

The rest of the debate was almost all positive. Lord Dubs succumbed to the ‘skunk’ myth but who can blame him, given the level of propaganda and hysteria promoted even by ‘public service broadcasters’ such as Channel 4 and and some of our so-called eminent ‘scientists’. Lord Howarth of Newport hit the nail on the head and referred to the terrible difficulty of those who need access to Bedrocan. He is a stalwart ally of a few, fortunate CLEAR members whose doctors have had the courage to prescribe.

This mini debate was good news. It was another brick in the wall. Clearly, attitudes are changing and the facts are beginning to overtake the myths. Many Lords and MPs are on our side.

As ever, the way forward is relentless, individual, lobbying and informing. We must keep telling truth to power, challenging misinformation and providing knowledge.

Today, in the House of Lords, progress was made.

Peter Reynolds