A petition was started calling for the UK Parliament to debate cannabis legalization. The petition needed 100,000 signers to initiative the debate. As of this date, the petition has received 215,769 signatures. As such, a debate has been planned for next month. Per High Times:
In response to a public petition demanding that the United Kingdom repeal prohibition, Parliament has announced that it will put the issue of marijuana legalization up for debate at the beginning of next month.
Reports indicate the House of Commons is scheduled to discuss the possibility of legalizing a nationwide cannabis industry on October 12. This discussion is expected to cover a wide range of topics from how to handle the cultivation and retail sale of marijuana to determining appropriate possession amounts for personal use.
The petition has already received a response from the UK government, which was not favorable. Below is their response, which can also be found at the petition’s site:
Substantial scientific evidence shows cannabis is a harmful drug that can damage human health. There are no plans to legalise cannabis as it would not address the harm to individuals and communities.
The latest evidence from the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is that the use of cannabis is a significant public health issue (‘Cannabis Classification and Public Health’, 2008).
Cannabis can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society. Legalisation of cannabis would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery that this can cause to families.
Legalisation would also 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.
Despite the potential opportunity offered by legalisation to raise revenue through taxation, there would be costs in relation to administrative, compliance and law enforcement activities, as well as the wider costs of drug prevention and health services.
The UK’s approach on drugs remains clear: we must prevent drug use in our communities; help dependent individuals through treatment and wider recovery support; while ensuring law enforcement protects society by stopping the supply and tackling the organised crime that is associated with the drugs trade. The Government will build on the Drugs Strategy by continuing to take a balanced and coherent approach to address the evolving challenges posed.
There are positive signs that the Government’s approach is working: there has been a long term downward trend in drug use over the last decade, and more people are recovering from their dependency now than in 2009/10. The number of adults aged 16-59 using cannabis in the last year in England and Wales has declined over the last decade from 9.6% to 6.7%, with cannabis use amongst young adults aged 16-24 and young people aged 11-15 following a similar pattern.