Harpenden MP calls for cannabis to be legalised for sale and use

Peter Lilley MP discussing the legalisation of cannabis in parliament

Peter Lilley MP discussing the legalisation of cannabis in parliament - Credit: Archant

Harpenden’s MP has called on the government not only to decriminalise cannabis but also to legalise it for sale and use.

Peter Lilley was taking part in a debate in support of a 225,000-signature e-petition calling on the government to ‘make the production, sale and use of cannabis legal”.

The issue was raised by Newport West MP Paul Flynn who recounted the story of the multiple sclerosis-sufferer and cannabis activist Elizabeth Brice, who on a visit to the House of Commons had added green specks of cannabis to a cup of hot water to help her with the pain.

He said: “She had taken herbal cannabis in the House of Commons. The law at the moment says that she could be put in prison for five years, for the crime of seeking relief from pain. Does anyone believe that that law is sensible? The law is an ass.”

MPs in the debate broke convention and applauded before Mr Lilley seconded Mr Flynn’s assertions that the medical use of cannabis should not be criminalised.

Mr Lilley told MPs: “Some years ago, members of the press asked front benchers from both parties whether they had ever consumed cannabis. I found that I was one of the very few who had never done so then and I have not since.

“That may be why I had a clear enough head, when looking at the evidence, to conclude that we need not just to decriminalise cannabis, but to legalise its sale and use.”

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Mr Lilley went on to assert that he “abhorred the stuff,” but conceded that “even Queen Victoria allegedly used cannabis to relieve menstrual pain,” adding: “If it is a Victorian value, surely it can be made more widely available.”

He went on: “The more I examine the arguments for prohibition, the clearer it is to me that although the pretence is that it is for health reasons, the actual reason is moral disapprobation of drugs.

“I am probably one of the few people in this room who is prepared to say that I share that moral disapprobation.

“I do think that it is wrong, however, to get stoned out of one’s mind on anything. It is degrading. God gave us minds to see things clearly, not to befuddle and bemuse.”

Despite calls from MPs from all parties for the Justice Minister Mike Penning to consider backing the petition, he declined, saying that the majority of the world had not done so and the arguments against decriminalisation outweighed those for.