Cannabis reform has become a hot topic in recent years. Many countries have moved on to greener pastures. Gone are the days of the strict war on drugs type mentalities. This old-school mindset has been replaced by a newfound appreciation for a substance once believed to be the Devil’s Lettuce.
Cannabis has gained widespread appreciation not only among those looking to have a good time but medical patients too. The media has gone from painting weed to be this dangerous drug done in dingy basements by addicts to a miracle drug in fighting against many different ailments.
Cannabis is making huge leaps forward legally in recent years. As many readers will know, weed is legal already in Canada and 16 of the US States. Thailand, a country notorious for harsh punishments against drugs, has even relaxed their cannabis laws this year. Other countries such as Germany are set to make huge changes to their cannabis laws next year. The Swiss city of Basil is carrying out some fascinating research that could see massive cannabis law changes in both the region and the country.
So with all these countries going green, is weed legal in the UK?
The UK has had a rocky history with cannabis. The country did see some reform in the laws between 2001 and 2007. The labour party successfully attempted to decriminalize the plant to C-Class status. This saw penalties for personnel possession, use and production reduced drastically. This was paired with the punishments for dealing and selling also reduced.
This policy reform was for the most part a great success according to the Home Office. The police saved an extra 199,000 hours where they could focus on more severe crimes. However, Gordon Brown would reinstate cannabis back to its Class B status when he was made prime minister in 2007.
This rocky history hasn’t changed as weed in the United Kingdom is still very much illegal.
When we ask “is weed legal in the United Kingdom?” and compare with other regions in the world, the UK are a little behind when it comes to cannabis reform. Weed is illegal in the UK currently. Unlike many countries, even possession of small amounts of Cannabis is not decriminalised.
As it currently stands cannabis laws come under the 1971 Dangerous Drugs Act. This has put cannabis in the second most restrictive Class B alongside amphetamines and ketamine. Weed has been illegal recreationally in the UK since 1928. Interestingly, before the 1971 law was signed, doctors could recommend cannabis to patients in need.
Cannabis for medicinal patients is currently legal in the UK and has been since 2018. Medicinal cannabis came into law somewhat begrudgingly. The country was forced to change their stance on medical marijuana when the cases of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley came to the public’s attention. Both children were using low-THC oils to treat their severe epilepsy. These medicines were confiscated by the police. Subsequently, the police were forced to return the medicine to the boys after much public outcry. This controversy did have some positive outcomes as specialists can now recommend medicinal cannabis to patients in need.
Unfortunately, the medicinal cannabis program receives a lot of criticism in the country. There is a huge shortage of medicinal cannabis as the country imports 100% of its medicinal stock. The number of specialists with the right to prescribe medical cannabis is very low. No doctor can recommend cannabinoid treatment before all other medical efforts have been tried.
So what does the future hold for a Greener UK?
It is fair to say cannabis reform is slow in the United Kingdom. The debate on cannabis reform is ongoing in the UK, be it quietly or slowly. The majority of the country’s political parties stand against the plant gaining legal status. Most of these parties often cite an increased risk of psychosis as why the plant should remain illegal.
The UK’s Labour Party has however given support to the idea of access to CBD products. The party also believes in a more laissez-faire approach. This would come in the form of stopping the prosecution of those caught with small amounts of cannabis.
They seem to be one of the few government parties who are somewhat in favour of making steps towards more progressive cannabis laws.
Other parties do propose a more science-based drug policy. Their main reason being for harm reduction. However, none of these proposals suggests full legalization.
Another suggestion has come out of the Green Party. This radical proposal was to set up cannabis social clubs. This would see members grow and supply weed to each other. Which in my opinion, sounds like a great time.
Is Cannabis Illegal in the UK?
So to answer the question, is weed legal in the United Kingdom? In short, no. The country still has a long way to go in legalizing the plant. The closet many UK residents can come to legal weed is the buying and selling of cannabis seeds. It is perfectly legal to buy and possess weed seeds in the UK. However, the growth of weed plants has been illegal for recreational use since 1964. This law has seen some Brits starting their own collection of cannabis seeds. This is all in hopes for cannabis law reform where they can begin growing the plants themselves.
Given the current controversy of the U.K’s newest Prime Minister putting a stop to Bermuda’s cannabis reform laws within her first week. It looks like it will be another while before they are celebrating 4:20 in 10 Downing Street. However, I think it’s safe to say that won’t stop the rest of the country from toking up when the clocks strike 4:20.