Over the last week in the United Kingdom, the story of young Billy Caldwell has seen a wave of cannabis news hit the mainstream media.
The leading headline on the BBC News at 10 last Saturday, which reaches viewing figures of up to 5 million, the struggles of Caldwell and his desperate attempt to access cannabis oil for his epilepsy has now been seen by a nationwide audience.
This has seemingly set off a chain of events, leading to a call by the former Conservative leader Lord William Hague to legalize cannabis recreationally in the U.K.
Hague becomes the first significantly renowned Conservative politician to call for a change in cannabis laws in the country.
Writing in his regular column in the Daily Telegraph, Hague called British cannabis laws, “inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date”.
Explaining his belief that the War on Drugs has been a total failure, Hague noted that the current Conservative government should be looking to Canada as an example of how to find a recreational law that will benefit everybody;
“Can British Conservatives be as bold as Canadian Liberals? We ought to be. After all, we believe in market forces and the responsible exercise of freedom, regulated as necessary. We should prefer to provide for lawful taxes than preside over increased profits for crime. And we are pragmatists, who change with society and revise our opinions when the facts change. On this, the facts have changed very seriously and clearly”.
Despite cannabis being classed as a category B drug in the United Kingdom, with punishments of up to 5 years in prison for simple possession, the country was actually the leader in the production and export of cannabis based medicines in 2016.
Most of this medicine was sold to the United States in the form of Sativex, a drug used to control the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The United States are one of the leading nations in cannabis legalization; 29 states have legalised cannabis for medical use, while 9 states have legalized recreationally,
Despite a call for legalization from a well-recognised name within the Conservative party, current Prime Minister Teresa May is unlikely to look at any sweeping changes to U.K. cannabis policy “because of the impact it (cannabis) has on people’s lives”.
And while May has voiced her opinions on the subject matter, the very fact that Hague has expressed his pro-legalization views is a major step forward and will help generate more conversation about a subject that has been considered taboo in government since prohibition almost 100 years ago.