British lawmakers rejected an attempt to legalize recreational cannabis on Tuesday.
Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Norman Lamb attempted to table a bill during House of Commons debate that would allow United Kingdom residents aged 18 and above to legally purchase marijuana and for the UK to regulate commercial cannabis production, distribution and sale. The bill, which comes one month after British doctors were first authorized to prescribe cannabis for certain conditions, was prevented from advancing in a 66-52 vote.
“The approach taken by the government is so restrictive that the numbers who will benefit are miniscule,” Mr. Lamb told fellow MPs, noting British cannabis consumers now face a “post code lottery” where prosecutions for cannabis possession “have plummeted” in some jurisdictions, such as the northeast English city of Durham where the local police chief “has effectively decriminalized cannabis for personal use.”
“We can at last end the extraordinary practice of handing over billions of pounds every year to organized crime,” Mr. Lamb said.
In July, a poll from BMG Research found 51 per cent of voting-age residents of England, Scotland and Wales supported legalizing and regulating cannabis similarly to alcohol and tobacco. The same poll found 35 per cent of respondents opposed legalization and 14 per cent were unsure.
Canadian cannabis regulations, Mr. Lamb said, were “instructive.” Following the results of the vote, his office released a statement saying it is “total hypocrisy that the most dangerous drug of all, in terms of harm to yourself and others, alcohol, is consumed in large quantities right here in our national Parliament, whilst we criminalize others for using a less dangerous drug with many using it for the relief of pain.”