Spurned on by the recent EU referendum, an online petition has been launched demanding that the government hold a vote on cannabis legalisation.
The petition which was started on the 12th of April has already passed the 10,000 signatures required for the government to respond, and will run until the 12th of September.
In a statement on the petitions website the organisers said “It is clear that the cannabis debate is not going away and given that the current conservative government understand the meaning of democracy by giving a referendum to the public on our membership of the E.U it should give the public a referendum on cannabis legalisation and let the public decide.“
The government has responded, saying: “The legalisation of cannabis would send the wrong message to the vast majority of people who do not take drugs, especially young and vulnerable people, with the potential grave risk of increased misuse of drugs.
It would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery this can cause to families and society.”
The government cites evidence from independent experts – the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (‘ACMD’) – advising that the use of cannabis is a “significant public health issue and can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society.”
In 2009 Professor David Nutt, the government’s chief drug adviser, was sacked a day after claiming that ecstasy and LSD were less dangerous than alcohol.
Nutt claimed in a paper that alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than many illegal drugs, including LSD, ecstasy and cannabis.
At the time the decision to sack him was called “a bad day for science and a bad day for the cause of evidence-informed policy making” by Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice.
He added “I’m shocked and dismayed that the Home Secretary appears to believe that political calculation trumps honest and informed scientific opinion. The message is that when it comes to the Home Office’s relationship with the research community, honest researchers should be seen but not heard.”
Cannabis is a Class B Drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, after it was reclassified on the 26th of January 2009 from a class C to B drug.
If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures it will have to be considered for a debate in parliament.