A cross-party group of MPs has declared that the UK could legalize recreational cannabis use within five years after conducting an eye-opening visit to Canada.
Conservative MP Jonathan Djanogly, Labour’s David Lammy and Sir Norman Lamb of the Liberal Democrats crossed the Atlantic to study the adult-use marijuana market.
“I want the market legalised, regulated and taken away from crime gangs,” said Lammy, the MP for Tottenham in north London. “I want to see the strength of the stuff reduced, labelled and properly organised in this country.”
The BBC Newsbeat team accompanied the MPs and filmed their reactions to the findings they made. Clips have been distributed to the press and they show Lamb using cannabis oil, making him the first British politician to consume marijuana on camera.
Lamb, who has represented North Norfolk since 2001, spoke about how he uses cannabis oil to help him relax and sleep. He has led his party’s official backing for the legalization of recreational cannabis use, and he told Newsbeat it was ridiculous to be forced to flush cannabis oil containing THC away before returning to the UK, where it is prohibited.
Lammy’s stance represents a departure from that of his party. Both Lammy and Lamb said they could see it being legalized within five years.
However, Djanogly of the ruling Conservative Party said the UK has a lot to learn and that it could be 10 or 15 years before Britain permits adult cannabis use.
Lamb and Lammy said they paid for their own flights, although the research trip was funded by UK harm reduction group Volte Face.
Another Conservative MP, the aptly named Crispin Blunt, has also set a target of legalizing recreational cannabis use within five years. He heads up the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Reform, and he also chairs a private lobbying group called the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, which is funded by cannabis companies, including Zenabis, Wayland, and Supreme Cannabis Company.
Fellow Tory MP Andrew Mitchell, who represents Sutton Coldfield and formerly served as a cabinet minister, has also urged his party to drastically reconsider its approach to marijuana.
Britain legalized medicinal marijuana use last year, but strict NHS guidelines make it virtually impossible for doctors to actually prescribe it. Mitchell wants to see these guidelines overhauled to allow patients to gain access to the pain relief they desperately need.