UK Cannabis Groups at Houses of Parliament.

Liz Filmer
22 Dec 2022

Recently the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for CBD Products held its annual general meeting in The House of Commons. This featured a discussion with a Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) on the challenges facing cannabis reform in government and police services.

The conservative PCC led a discussion surrounding the government's current attitude towards cannabis and how decisions were made around how cannabis is policed throughout the UK. 

The PCC noted that a third to a half of all crime is drugs related, with this being no surprise to the government representative who commented that there was a range of very different views held amongst members of the ruling party.

"And my reaction to that is of course it is, it's because we have a ridiculous regulation system in the UK when it comes to drugs."

Although Home Secretary Suella Braverman has previously said that she believes cannabis should be upgraded to a Class A substance. The PCC stated that this was unlikely to happen as serious crime is unlikely to be tackled by making it harder for people to access 'safe and sensible' drugs when they want to. 

A more crucial hurdle appeared to be the battle to do more with less as police services throughout the UK continue to have their budgets cut. There aren't enough officers to police drugs in the way that many of their colleagues would like. 

This meant that the limited allocation of resources had to be considered in terms of threat, harm and risk. When it came to cannabis, there wasn't the same level of damage as with other things. 

Despite stating that government resources would be better spent tackling the people at the top of the chain, not small-time suppliers, they said there remained a problem with perception and that many of their colleagues felt a need to be seen to be tough on drugs. 

Asked whether they were in the minority among PCCs regarding their views on cannabis, it was explained that those who held a much stricter stance on the issue were 'louder' and got more press attention. 

However, they added that their colleagues were 'pragmatic' and 'utterly persuadable by robust data and evidence', including the group's recently published report – 'APPG Plan for a Legal and Regulated UK Hemp and Cannabis Sector'. 

The APPG's Chair, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, enquired why more of the members' local MPs were not attending the meeting. Mr Blunt stated that if their businesses were on the line, it was the MPs' duty to step in. He encouraged members to do more to educate their MPs on the economic case for cannabis reform. 

Although promising, much work remains to build significant engagement with MPs.

Liz Filmer