Government response to parliamentary petition

For those who don’t know, this site was originally created to support my parliamentary petition calling for an inquiry into the link between cannabis and violence:

In Britain, if a parliamentary petition reaches 10,000 signatures the government is obliged to respond. If it reaches 100,000 signatures it must be considered for debate in Parliament. My petition has reached nearly 12,500 signatures thanks almost entirely to the efforts of Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, who was initially reluctant to get involved, modestly claiming that his influence was not as great as I supposed (we were both, in different ways, right and wrong).

On 26 February, the government finally responded, beginning with the mildly guilty claim, ‘We have no intention of legalising cannabis.’ This looks increasingly dubious. First, there is the obvious fact that nine Conservative MPs voted in favour of Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb’s cannabis legalisation bill last December, which failed by 14 votes (more on him in a separate post). The reasons why some of these MPs voted in favour shows that the Conservatives reek of cannabis from top to bottom. Zac Goldsmith, Crispin Blunt and Daniel Kawczynski have some very questionable links to the industry, as do Theresa May’s husband, several Tory peers and backers, and former Chancellor and current Evening Standard editor George Osborne, all of which I’ll write about separately.

The government response continues, ‘Cannabis is controlled under Class B of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971’. This is true, in a sense. The trouble is, that act more or less codified the Wootton Report of 1969, which recommended cannabis possession not be punished as severely as production, importation, or possession with intent to supply, and which claimed cannabis is less harmful than alcohol. As Peter Hitchens describes in detail in The War We Never Fought, the extraordinary thing about the Misuse of Drugs Act was that it was written by Labour, then put on hold for the 1970 general election, and then passed in almost identical form by the Conservatives after they had won office. As if that wasn’t enough, in 1973 the Conservative Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, gave a speech in which he told judges and magistrates not to send people to prison for possession of cannabis. Needless to say, the judges and magistrates obliged, and continue to oblige.

The response later says that in October, ‘the Home Secretary announced that there would be a major independent review of drug misuse, building on the work underway since the Government’s Drug Strategy was published in 2017. The review will not consider changes to the existing legislative framework.’ This is welcome, and I have posted a hard copy of the Attacker Smoked Cannabis catalogue to Professor Dame Carol Black, who is to  lead the review, and who replied by post to thank me for the evidence and promise that she would consider it. However, this review, whatever its findings, is somewhat undermined by the fact that a month after it was announced, the same Home Secretary surrendered to the ‘medical’ marijuana mob by allowing certain cannabis-based medicines to be prescribed or authorised by licensed medical professionals, in response to the tribulations of young Billy Caldwell, whose mother insists that only cannabis oil (of the type she happens to sell for £500 a bottle through her company Billy’s Bud Ltd.) can treat her son’s severe epilepsy. For those who haven’t been paying attention, this is part of the strategy of Big Cannabis to soften attitudes to the pleasure drug and allow certain companies, under a guise of ‘medical’ progress, to begin growing vast quantities of cannabis, which will come in handy if and when the pleasure drug is legalised.

The response continues, ‘It [the independent review] will provide a strong evidence-base which will help to identify drug users, what they are taking and how often, so that law enforcement agencies can target and prevent the drug-related causes of violent crime effectively.’ I could help the law enforcement agencies find drug users, and tell them in advance what they’re taking. Join me on a walking tour of Bristol on a nice day in the summer and you’ll see and smell cannabis everywhere.

Seriously, though, this is drivel. The police know very well that on any given day there are thousands of people smoke cannabis openly in public. Sometimes these people do it en masse, and broadcast their intentions in advance, and still the police do nothing.

The response continues, ‘The analysis in the Government’s Serious Violence strategy makes clear that the rise in serious violence is likely due to a range of factors, including improvements in police recording, but that changes in the drugs market are a key driver of recent increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicide.’

As I will show in a separate post (and I know I have promised quite a few such posts), I do not believe that ‘changes in the drugs market are a key driver of recent increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicide.’ What ‘drives’ these things most, I think, is the heavy consumption of cannabis. Most of the 132 homicides that occurred last year in London, for example, patently had nothing to do with controlling a drug market, and a great deal to do with drug use.

The response continues for two more paragraphs without any mention of the one thing that sustains the drug trade, people buying drugs. A strategy that goes after supply without addressing demand is useless and incoherent.

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