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UK Parliament Members Blame Own Party for Blocking Medical Cannabis Vote

February 23, 2018
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Medical cannabis advocates are accusing lawmakers of deliberate filibustering after the UK Parliament’s House of Commons failed to hear a legalization bill as scheduled on Friday. The hearing was postponed after discussion of other business—including protections of eider ducks—went long.

Patients and drug policy advocates had descended on Westminster for the planned second reading of a bill to allow sick Britons to use cannabis medicinally. The measure was introduced by MP Paul Flynn, a Labour Party representative from Wales who threw a cannabis-infused tea party last year in an effort to underscore the absurdity of prohibition.

“To my shame, my party … voted to sabotage this bill today.”
Paul Flynn, Member of UK Parliament

Pleas from Flynn to his Commons colleagues to speed other business along to allow the cannabis bill to be heard went unheeded on Friday. Instead, MPs went on extended soliloquies of 15 minutes or longer on relatively unimportant business, leaving the 83-year-old backbencher, who uses a wheelchair, to head outside in cold weather to explain what went wrong.

“To my shame, my party … voted to sabotage this bill today,” Flynn said, addressing a rally organized by the United Patients Alliance, one of the United Kingdom’s most prominent medical-marijuana advocacy groups.

“We’ve seen the utter cruelty and absurdity of cannabis laws” in the case of Alfie Dingley, a six-year-old epilepsy sufferer who has had to travel to the Netherlands to access cannabis oil, he added. He accused fellow MPs of having a “heart of stone.”


England, a Holdout in Western Europe, to Consider Medical Cannabis Bill

MPs from both the Conservative Party, which controls the government, and the main opposition Labour Party, cooperated to effectively filibuster Flynn’s bill and block it from being heard in a nearly-empty House of Commons. Flynn vowed to find out if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s party obstructionism was organized by party honchos, as The London Economic reported.

July 6 is now the earliest the medical cannabis question can be heard in Parliament.

In the past, both Labour and Conservative parties have rejected pleas to change the UK’s drug laws, which outlaw cannabis and stymie scientific research.

In contrast, other western European countries, including, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the Netherlands, allow citizens to use the drug medicinally.

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Chris Roberts

Based in New York City, Chris Roberts has been writing about cannabis since spending a few months in Humboldt County in 2009. His work has been published in SF Weekly, Cannabis Now, The Guardian, High Times, and San Francisco Magazine, among others.

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