A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the UK is headed for a second reading in February 2018. The bill passed its first reading in Parliament in October without opposition.
On the day the bill passed its first reading, a peaceful demonstration was held outside London’s Parliament building. Demonstrators ingested medical marijuana as part of the planned protest, which was called by MP Paul Flynn. Flynn is one of the biggest advocates of legal medicinal marijuana in the UK.
No arrests were made at the protest.
Flynn proposed the bill on 10 October 2017 as a Private Member’s Bill and under the Ten Minute Rule.
“If we legalise drugs, we reduce side effects by taking the market out of the hands of the criminals and the scammers, and putting those drugs in a legal market that can be run by doctors using medical priorities,” said Flynn during the presentation of the bill.
Flynn added that the Multiple Sclerosis Society supports the bill.
While the news has sparked optimism among advocates of medical marijuana, the UK government has been staunchly opposed to legalizing marijuana in any form.
The bill will head to its second reading on 23 February 2018, but it is unclear what will become of the measure.
The UK faces different challenges than the U.S. and Canada, which have both taken steps to legalize medical cannabis. In both countries, legalization is taking place on a state-by-state level. In the UK, Britons must target the federal level first.
About one million people in the UK use marijuana for medical purposes, but possession of the drug can lead to up to five years in prison. Those who grow and supply cannabis face up to 14 years in prison.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is legal in Britain. It’s also legal for people to engage in CBD vaping in the UK. CBD is just one of the many cannabinoid molecules that are produced by cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and widely available. It also has a number of promising medicinal applications.
But CBD cannot offer all of the benefits that medical marijuana offers.
In other parts of the world, medical marijuana is already legal. In the U.S., medicinal cannabis is legal in 29 states and Washington, D.C. Canada is now one step closer to legalizing the drug after the House of Commons approved new legislation.
In Portugal, Norway and the Netherlands, it’s legal to consume small amounts of cannabis. In fact, Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001.
In Australia, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic and Macedonia, medical marijuana is legal in some form.
Several states in the U.S. have decriminalized marijuana, including Colorado, California, Washington and Oregon. Slovenia, Spain, Columbia, Chile, Uruguay and Jamaica have also decriminalized the drug in some form.
Several celebrities in the UK have come out in support of legalization, including Sir Richard Branson, Sting and Russell Brand.
Think tank Adam Smith Institute estimates that legalizing medical marijuana could generate between £750million and £1bn in taxes if regulated like alcohol or tobacco. Legalization would also save taxpayers £50million per year in criminal justice savings.