NORML UK investigates UK political party views on cannabis

With the European and local elections in the UK today and the general election fast approaching, this time next year , which will ultitmately  be the 56th cycle of promises, votes, elections and lies. So it is no coincidence or real surprise that in the space of a few months Nick Clegg and David Cameron’s conservative think tank have said ‘hey y’know, maybe it IS time we look at our drug policy’. NORML UK decided to investigate the main UK political party views and policies on cannabis and drug law reform. 
You only have to look back to 2005 when David Cameron, then a spritely Tory whippersnapper, spoke out saying: “Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades.”
Now fast forward to 2011, when in this infamous interview, Cameron stated, “the question here about whether illegal drugs should be made legal. My answer is no…”
As we can see, politicians have been known to make complete U-turns on promises when they come into power, so it is also important to see how they have acted in the past before voting on the basis of their current policies.
Let’s take a look at the five leading political parties and see their most recent stance on cannabis law reform, from harshest to least:
Labour
Unsurprisingly, Labour refused comment on the subject of drug law reform, which has been their usual tactic on this subject. It was a Labour Government under Gordon Brown which returned the classification of cannabis to class B again in 2005, laying down even harsher penalties and prison time for the next nine years, and for years to come.
When it comes to any new ideas regarding the ‘War on Drugs’, Labour consistently falls silent. Even when Labour MP and drugs advisor Bob Ainsworth came out saying the War was “nothing short of a disaster” , Ed Miliband replied: “I don’t agree with him on decriminalisation of drugs — I worry about the effects on young people, the message that we would be sending out.”
Miliband has previously touted he was ‘too square’ for drink and drugs when he was younger, and also appears to be someone who struggles to understand the needs of 3 million cannabis-smoking voters in the UK today.
Ed Miliband photographed with a high student holding a big bong.

Ed Miliband pictured with a student holding a bong.

Conservative
Conservative think tank ‘Bright Blue’ recently stirred the cannabis conversation when they recommended Cameron to reform UK cannabis laws as a way to attract young people and ethnic-minority voters. Considering the group is backed by Theresa May, Francis Maude, and the former minister Andrew Mitchell, does this recommendation have legs?
When Norml UK asked the party what they thought, a representative replied: “We will publish our [drug] policies for the next General Election in our manifesto.” Could this imply Conservatives are changing their stance on cannabis? Or is this just another tease? We should find out about a month before the next election next year when they are expected to release the manifesto. David Cameron’s latest comment was in response to Clegg’s call for a review, he said: “I don’t personally think a Royal Commission is the answer and I don’t support the decriminalisation of any drugs that are currently illegal.”
In the meantime, if you want a laugh, just go to their official drug policy page and see them explain why the ‘war on drugs’ is so ridiculous: ‘It also drains public resources. For example, crimes related to drugs cost the UK £13.3 billion every year.’ They’re giving us statistics to use now!
UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has smoked cannabis in the past and used to support reforming Britain's drug laws.

David Cameron was caught smoking cannabis at Eton and supported reforming Britain’s drug laws before he became leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.

UKIP
This party is a prime example of why you shouldn’t vote for a political party based on one policy. Farage did come out in April saying : “I personally think that the war on drugs was lost many, many years ago and that the lives of millions of people in Britain are being made miserable by the huge criminal element that surrounds the illicit drugs trade and I do think that Portugal does show us that perhaps there is a better, more enlightened way to deal with this.”
However, the official party remains a prohibitionist stance, and we’ll have to see if they heed Mr Farage’s recommendations in their manifesto next year.
Lib Dems
Nick Clegg has been very vocal about the UK’s drug policy in recent months as the general election deadline looms closer. As previously mentioned, in response to a anti-Prohibitionist motion passed at his party’s annual conference, he called for a Royal Commission on drugs at the end of 2013 which Cameron quickly batted away. After an emotional trip to gang-dominated Columbia in February 2014, he came back looking for alternatives to prohibition using the famous line: ‘If you are anti-drugs, you should be pro-reform’. And this month, he signed the London School of Economics report which logically proved the war on drugs had failed.
However, what needs to be remembered is the Lib Dem’s promises have not proved airtight in previous times. Broken commitments to lowering tuition fees, VAT and delivering “fairer taxes in tough times” have left some supporters feeling short-changed. Could more promises on cannabis regulation face the same fate?
Nick Clegg Leader of the Lib Dems

Nick Clegg Leader of the Lib Dems

Green
The Green Party is a party that has been literally fighting the green fight for years. Stating their official policy which has remained the same for over 10 years: ‘Cannabis would be removed from the 1971 Misuse of drugs act. The possession, trade and cultivation of cannabis would be immediately decriminalised, roughly following the Dutch model.’
You may have heard of Caroline Allen, if you were at Hyde Park 420 this year; you would have seen MEP candidate for London on a soapbox showing her support for the cannabis cause. A green party spokesman and policymaker for the Green party, when asked for a comment by NORML, Miss Allen replied: “We do not believe people should be criminalised for either recreational or medical use and support people’s choice on this issue. We would decriminalise cannabis if in power, looking to the examples overseas as to where this has been done successfully.”
Caroline Allen Green Party MEP Candidate speaks at Hyde Park pro Cannabis Rally, organised by NORML UK April 2014

Caroline Allen Green Party MEP Candidate speaks at Hyde Park pro Cannabis Rally, organised by NORML UK April 2014

Few voters make their choices on one policy alone, but we at NORML urge you to take cannabis policy in your consideration when casting your ballot today. Unfortunately through all the promises, lies and swathes of information, politics is a game we must play to get anything done. Voting is one way we tell politicians we want change; passive non-compliance will not achieve anything other than let the same circle rotate.
It may seem un-motivating – how politics works, but every time the word of cannabis reform is spouted by politicians, the debate is restarted. Papers run stories for good or bad, social media networks light up like roman candles and everyone is thinking about what matters to us most.
With enough talk, accelerated by activist events, the facts will prevail and the undeniable truth about cannabis will come to light.
So with everything said and done, who will you be voting for at the local and general elections?
Mr Cheese is a writer for The High Community, a UK entertainment and activism website looking to bring three million stoners together.
Posted in News.

4 Comments

  1. The fact that all politicians of whatever persuasion are still spouting nonsense about ‘legalising drugs’, and ‘illegal drugs’ demonstrates to me that they have absolutely no idea about nor any interest in any form of ‘drug reform’. Many cannabis campaigners fall into the same meaningless diatribe. No drug, nor any other inanimate substance, can be legalised as substances by their very nature cannot be legal or illegal. Substances have no agency so cannot perform illegal acts. The Greens at least seem to have a grasp of the actual issue and it’s ramifications “Cannabis would be removed from the 1971 Misuse of drugs act. The possession, trade and cultivation of cannabis would be immediately decriminalised, roughly following the Dutch model.” Next time you here someone demanding ‘legalisation’ of the herb ask what they mean. Every time they will answer that they want legal access to their drug of choice. This is not a demand for ‘legalisation of cannabis’, far from it, it is a demand that our personal choices and freedoms are respected and not subject to unfair and discriminatory laws. So next time anyone refers to an ‘illegal drug’ ask them what they mean. When you talk to someone about ‘legalisation’ make sure you emphasise that you are talking about the ‘legalisation’ of personal choice and freedom.

    • no one is confused or under any misapprehension about the meaning of ‘legal’ and ‘illegal drugs’, or ‘legalisation of drugs’ regarding the reality of how the laws are enforced. Obviously it relates to the actions not the object itself as it does with all law using the same language construction. I really dont think this line of argument is a useful one to pursue – even if technically correct. the goal is to end the criminalization of users, and ensure a properly legally regulated supply – neither of which happen now – we all know what the goal is so lets not get sidetracked with semantics.

  2. What I would like to see is candidates and parties mentioning cannabis issues in their manifestos, fliers and broadcasts – I have seen nothing.

    AS for the Greens, a couple of years ago I wrote to them – the letter wqas forwarded with an added comment for somebody to reply and the reply along with comment came back to me – “I thought we’d taken care of the dopers’ votes” it said.

    For almost 20 years I have bene involved in pushing the Greens and I must say they did change their policy after the LCA became apolitical party and won votes in 2001.

    I offered to finance a local candidate flier if it included the words Legalise Cannabis or something similar – the fliers were printed but the Norwich Green Party told the lady she was not allowed to put them out, so I withdrew my offer, the fliers were binned and she had no flier at all.

    My Eastern Region Green Party candidate Rupert Reid and his associate Adrian Ramsey say advertising their “pro-cannabis” policy would lose them votes.

    All credit to Caroline Lucas for startinga petition, but in my region, Rupsert Reid (says the cannabis issue is a “no-brainer”) will not get my vote.

    The next years General Election I will consider voting for any candidate that seems able and willing to represent me and that includes the cannabis issue – an issue that concerns health and medicine, law and Rights, fuel and pollution, the environment, agriculture, industry, employment, trade, tax, education and even foreign policy.

    The absence of any mention of cannabis in these elections (in the UK) demosntrates to need for a dxedicated cannabis political party – one that will allow the users to represent themselves.

  3. To be fair to the Lib Dems – whatever other views you may have of them or their policies (and relating their manifesto promises to what they delivered as minority partners in a coalition seems harsh IMHO) – they have had decriminalization of (all) drug possession and legal regulation of cannabis (subject to negotiations on the UN treaties) as official party policy for more than a decade. The fact that they have rather hidden this fact away – it being a ‘shield issue’ rather than a ‘sword issue’ is regrettable but doesn’t change the fact they are the only one of the ‘big three’ that holds this policy – and your review should reflect that. Cleggs recent more active engagement on the issue is welcome, but he has also been on the record supporting legalisation (of all drugs) as far back when he was an MEP.

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