UK parliament to debate partial cannabis reform


It seems that at least partial cannabis reform might be afoot (finally) in the UK. The issue of cannabis policy has become even more of an embarrassment recently. The Home Office just refused a medical import license to a six-year-old epileptic child.

On Friday, national British politicians will revisit the issue of reform. They will hold the first debate over the introduction of a new kind of right. The right for sick people to use cannabinoid drugs.

The approach to the issue is interesting but not unique. In places like Mexico, the federal Supreme Court has already decided this right. Prohibition of cannabis, at least to Mexican judges, is a violation of a fundamental human right.

If this right becomes law in the UK, it will enshrine a concept that is more common in Europe than the US. In the EU, the right to health insurance and access to health care is a given. Cannabis is just one more medication. The idea of banning it at this point is absurd. So is the idea of penalizing or punishing patients.

Even France, with jail terms for users, is now considering changing the law.

On Friday, there will also be a second reading of the pending law to change the status of cannabis in the UK. The bill was introduced in October 2017. The bill would legalize the production, supply, possession, and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Recreational reform remains nebulous. But language in the statute also clearly makes room for this possibility.

Medical use of cannabis has dramatically changed the tenor of the debate in the UK. Just like in other places, the Home Office is a convenient scapegoat for the current high profile patient case. But increasingly, both celebrities and public figures have come on board the case for reform.

Prohibition on the medical front just does not makes sense. There are growing numbers of chronic condition patients as the population ages. Cannabis represents a boon for the UK. So far, however, the conservative leadership of the country has ignored the issue.

That is about to change.

In less than a week, two parliaments in Europe, one in London and one in Paris, have just debated cannabis.

They might not move either collectively or individually on the issue next week. Or the one after that. But the reality is they are clearly moving.

They cannot ignore the issue anymore.