Lord Hague slapped down by Theresa May over call to legalise cannabis

Posted On: 
19th June 2018

Theresa May has hit back at Lord Hague after the former Tory leader called for cannabis use to be decriminalised.

Lord Hague says the current drug laws have failed
Credit: 
PA

In an article for the Telegraph, the Tory grandee argued that the war against the drug has been "comprehensively and irreversibly lost".

He said the case of Billy Caldwell - a 12-year-old boy with epilepsy whose medicinal cannabis was seized by border officials last week - had shown that Britain's ban on the substance was "utterly out of date".

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And he urged the Prime Minister to "be as bold” as Canada – which looks set to become the first G8 nation to legalise the drug.

But Downing Street this morning issued a firm rebuttal to the piece, saying the Government’s position on legalisation would not change.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “The harmful effects of cannabis are well known and there are no plans to legalise it.”

This follows a similar rebuke from the Home Office this morning, which issued a statement in response to Lord Hague’s article.  

It stated: “The Government has no intention of reviewing the classification of cannabis under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and it will remain a Class B drug.

“Any debate within government about the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis based medicines does not extend to any review regarding the classification of cannabis and the penalties for the illicit possession, cultivation and trafficking of cannabis will remain the same.”

Mrs May has come under increasing pressure in the wake of the Caldwell case and has faced calls for a rethink on cannabis from within her top team.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt used a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday to urge the Prime Minister to launch a full review of Britain's laws on medicinal cannabis.

The Home Secretary will today make a statement on drug licensing following yesterday’s announcement that an expert panel will be established to advise ministers on prescribing medicinal cannabis.

Meanwhile Lord Hague’s bold stance has attracted support from across the political spectrum, with former Labour leader Ed Miliband saying: "I agree with William Hague.

"Drug legalisation is no go area for most frontline politicians but on public health grounds, we should legalise cannabis.

"If we care about mental health, street cannabis is much bigger danger & experience of eg Portugal suggests use unlikely to rise."