Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Norman Lamb MP this week proposed the biggest shake up to UK drugs laws in the last 50 years.
The bill, presented to Parliament on Wednesday (23rd March), proposed the introduction of a legal cannabis market in the UK.
It follows the publication of a report by an independent panel of experts which made a series of practical recommendations for how a regulated cannabis market could work. The Liberal Democrats formally adopted cannabis legalisation as party policy at their spring conference earlier this month.
Norman Lamb has said that he hopes the bill "start an open and mature discussion about the UK's drugs laws".
The bill has cross-party support, and is co-sponsored by Tim Farron, Nick Clegg, Tom Brake, Alistair Carmichael, Caroline Lucas (Green), Paul Flynn (Labour), Michael Fabricant, Crispin Blunt, and Peter Lilley (all Conservatives).
Commenting on the eve of the bill, Norman Lamb said: “I’ve argued for a long time that our laws on drugs are outdated, harmful and well overdue for reform.
“My biggest concern is that the risk that prohibition poses to public health. No criminal is interested in your welfare, and no drug is made less harmful when bought from organised crime networks. People have no idea of the strength of safety of what they’re buying.
“The so-called ‘war on drugs’ diverts valuable resources and police time which could be better used tackling far more harmful crimes than people carrying small amounts of cannabis for personal use. And thousands of people each year receive convictions for drug possession which blight their employment prospects for the rest of their lives.
“A regulated market in the UK will take profits out of the hands of organised crime and reduce both health and social harms. By bringing this bill to Parliament, I hope to kick-start an open and mature discussion about the UK’s drug laws which is long overdue.