The UK government has moved to crush a 200,000-strong petition to legalise cannabis before it’s even been debated.
The petition went well over the 100,000 signatures required to force a debate, but instead the Tories have issued a thundering reply which says they have no plans to change the law.
Here is part of the Government’s official response: “Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health. There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities“
The Guardian reports: However, the number of signatures the petition attracted means that MPs must consider debating the issue in parliament. All petitions that reach 100,000 signatures are given such consideration.
The petition’s argument that legalising cannabis would bring in £900m in taxes and reduce policing burdens was also rejected by the government. It said such benefits would be outweighed by the cost of administrative, compliance and law enforcement activities, as well as drug prevention and health services.
Peter Reynolds, president of Clear UK, a cannabis policy group, said the government’s response was “dishonest, misleading and deceptive”. He added: “Despite the fact that [the petition received] more than twice the threshold required, MPs will fight tooth and nail to stop this being debated.”
Jason Reed, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Leap) UK, said even if the debate didn’t make it to parliament, the issue had gained publicity. “There will be a preliminary debate which hopefully we’ll get MPs along to. This still serves a purpose on educating the public about the merits of drug law reform. There has been a groundswell of support in grassroots action and the public are starting to get it.”