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UK next to legalize marijuana?

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Posted: Monday, July 29, 2019. 7:49 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Three British parliamentarians speaking to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) say they believe the United Kingdom will fully legalize cannabis use in the next five to ten years, perhaps fifteen.

They would follow Canada, which in 2018 became the first G7 country to allow recreational use of the drug. The group – David Lammy of the Labour Party; Conservative Jonathan Djanogly and Liberal Democrat Sir Norman Lamb – were on a fact-finding mission for a BBC Radio 1 documentary.

Of the three politicians in the group one had a significant shift in his position – Lammy now backs legalization, against his party’s official stance; Lamb’s Lib Dems already support legalization while the Tories oppose it.

Currently cannabis is designated as a Class B drug in the UK and anyone caught with it could face up to five years in prison. However, there has been a shift in approach towards medicinal cannabis products, which can now be legally prescribed to some patients.

The BBC says it’s argued that where cannabis has been legalized for medical use, authorized recreational use often follows. Lammy said, “I want the market legalized, regulated and taken away from crime gangs… for young people not to be criminalized by use and properly educated. I want to see the strength of the stuff reduced, labelled and properly organized in this country.”

Lamb sampled cannabis oil containing THC to get to sleep while on the tour, becoming the only serving British MP to ever openly take a cannabis product on camera. He said he did not feel high but it did help him fall asleep.

The trip was organized by a UK-based campaign group, Volte Face, which wants the UK to legalize the drug. It’s part sponsored by a big North American cannabis company called MPX whom, it was suggested, was trying to use its money to influence British politicians. Sir Norman Lamb and David Lammy decided to fund their own flights and accommodation.

But the MPs also realize Canada’s experience has not been without problems, the BBC says. Technically illegal “grey” cannabis providers still thrive. The limits on fully licensed products mean there’s still a market for things like edibles and other cannabis products. Around half of the cannabis bought in Canada still comes from illegal sources.

Officially, the government says, “The legalization of these substances would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery they can cause to families and society.”

Several states in the United States have legalized marijuana, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year. Regionally, just last July 14, 2018, the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana, which met in Belize recommended the legislation of weed after a four-year study concluded that one hundred and eighty-three million people worldwide smoke weed. The analysis found that the majority of the Caribbean people believe that the cannabis laws are ineffective, incongruous, obsolete and deeply unjust.

In Belize, ten grams of marijuana for recreational use was decriminalized in November of 2017, after legislation in the National Assembly, over the objections of the churches and other opponents. At the time, Opposition Leader John Briceño suggested it was the first step on a path to eventual legalization of marijuana, but in 2018 when he brought up the matter again, Prime Minister Dean Barrow warned that Belize would risk economic ruin and the wrath of the United States, where the drug is still illegal at federal level.

Barrow said at a press conference, “While I don’t know enough, either from research or experience about marijuana, my instinctive feeling is that it can be no more harmful than liquor. But in any event, I repeat, morality is not the basis for G.O.B.’s position. … If we grew weed legally in Belize, the cartels who are now clandestinely landing planes and using us as a base for the transshipment to the U.S. would come in and take over production in Belize. They would continue to illegally penetrate the U.S. but from a legal production platform in Belize. What do you think the U.S. would say and do about that? Even now, when marijuana and all psychotropic drugs are illegal in Belize, the U.S. annually excoriates us for not being successful enough in stamping out such drugs in Belize because some of those drugs continue to find their way into their U.S. market.”

But Briceño suggested that the Government secretly considered such plans near to the most recent general elections to gain sympathetic votes, while Minister of Health Pablo Marin gave support to ideas for commercial hemp production for three separate businesses in the Stann Creek District – none passed that stage, however.

Former Prime Minister Said Musa told Channel 5 News that he supports marijuana legalization for two reasons: one, so that Belize joins the tide of countries switching or considering switching stances; and two, because any side effects of marijuana use are a health, rather than social service issue.

 

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