More than 60 cross-party MPs and peers have backed a campaign to end half a century of ‘drug failure’ in the UK.
The Transform Drug Policy Foundation is campaigning to overhaul the Misuse of Drugs Act, which marked its 50th anniversary on 27 May.
The controversial act was passed on May 21, 1971 and still serves as the cornerstone of British drugs legislation.
Working under the banner ‘50 years of failure’, the campaign argues that the 1971 act has ‘damaged people and communities, undermined science and entrenched social injustice’.
A private members’ bill, introduced in the House of Commons in March, is calling for an overhaul of the act, including decriminalisation for possession of small quantities of drugs, transfer of responsibility from the Home Office to the Department for Health and Social Care and better provision of safe consumption sites.
So far 64 MPs and peers have publicly backed the bill, including high profile medical cannabis advocates, Labour’s Tonia Antoniazzi, Crispin Blunt, Conservative MP and Ronnie Cowan, MP for the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Former leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell have also voiced their support.
Transform has now launched its 50 Voices campaign, bringing together perspectives from across the UK, and 50 reasons why change is needed.
It is also working with partners at Release and Drug Science to launch a series of reports and proposals later this year.
Dr James Nicholls, Transform’s CEO, commented: “The Misuse of Drugs Act has been a disaster. In the 50 years since it was introduced, we have seen both use and deaths rise dramatically. The UK now has some of the highest drug deaths in Europe, and the situation continues to get worse.
“At the same time, countless lives have either been lost, or ruined through needless and damaging criminalisation. The Government’s recent review of drug markets sets out this failure in detail, and confirms that it cannot be resolved simply through more policing.
“More than 50 MPs and Peers have now called for reform, and we know that a great many more agree but feel unable to speak out on this issue. This will not continue for another 50 years. We need to start a debate now to finally break the deadlock.”
Find out how you can write to your MP about supporting drug reform here
Here is the full list of MPs and peers calling for change:
Tonia Antoniazzi MP, Labour
Apsana Begum MP, Labour
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, Green Party
Kirsty Blackman MP, SNP
Crispin Blunt MP, Conservative
Deidre Brock MP, Scottish National Party
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, Labour
Alan Brown MP, Scottish National Party
Richard Burgon MP, Labour
Dawn Butler MP, Labour
Dan Carden MP, Labour
Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrat
Ronnie Cowan MP, Scottish National Party
Angela Crawley MP, Scottish National Party
Ed Davey MP, Liberal Democrat
Allan Dorans MP, Scottish National Party
Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat
Marian Fellows MP, Scottish National Party
Stephen Flynn MP, Scottish National Party
Mary Foy MP, Labour
Mary Glindon MP, Labour
Neale Hanvey MP, Alba Party
Drew Hendry MP, Scottish National Party
Lord Hendy, Labour
Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat
Lord Howarth of Newport, Labour
Lord Hylton, Crossbench
Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green Party
Ben Lake MP, Plaid Cymru
Ian Lavery MP, Labour
Chris Law MP, Scottish National Party
Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Labour
Clive Lewis MP, Labour
Tony Lloyd MP, Labour
Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party
Kenny MacAskill MP, Alba Party
Baroness Masham of Ilton, Crossbench
Stewart McDonald MP, Scottish National Party
Stuart McDonald, SNP
John McDonnell MP, Labour
Anne McLaughlin MP, Scottish National Party
Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat
Grahame Morris MP, Labour
Gavin Newlands MP, Scottish National Party
Sarah Olney MP, Liberal Democrat
John Penrose MP, Conservative
Dr Dan Poulter MP, Conservative
Lord Sikka, Labour
Lord Ramsbotham, Crossbench
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, Labour
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Labour
Liz Saville-Roberts MP, Plaid Cymru
Tommy Sheppard MP, Scottish National Party
Jeff Smith MP, Labour
Baroness Stern, Crossbench
Zarah Sultana MP, Labour
Alison Thewliss MP, Scottish National Party
Owen Thompson MP, SNP
Richard Thomson MP, Scottish National Party
Wendy Chamberlain MP, Liberal Democrat
Dr Philippa Whitford MP, Scottish National Party
Hywel Williams MP, Plaid Cymru
Lord Woolley of Woodford, Crossbench
Fair Trials and Last Prisoner Project seek to launch global cannabis justice project
Fair Trials’ Global CEO Norman L. Reimer to discuss the project at Cannabis Europa Conference in London on June 29.
A new initiative from Fair Trials and the Last Prisoner Project aims to redress the harm caused by cannabis prohibition and to secure relief for those in prison for cannabis-related convictions.
The criminal justice reform NGO, Fair Trials hopes that the industry will support its work in countries across the globe where cannabis laws are being liberalised. Through collaboration with local partners in appropriate jurisdictions, the Fair Trials project will identify people in need of legal assistance, and recruit, train and match volunteer lawyers to take on their cases.
Fair Trials has enlisted the help of the Last Prisoner Project, a coalition of cannabis industry leaders, executives and artists dedicated to bringing restorative justice to the cannabis sector.
More and more jurisdictions are allowing adults to use and distribute medical and recreational cannabis. But after decades of prohibition, countless people remain behind bars or continue to suffer the collateral consequences of a cannabis conviction.
“The injustice of cannabis prohibition has resulted in millions of people worldwide serving time in prison or being saddled with a cannabis conviction, which brings with it a lifetime of harmful consequences, ranging from education and employment opportunities to immigration status and parental rights,” said Fair Trials Global CEO, Norman L Reimer.
“Of course, these harmful effects of prohibition not only impact the individuals charged, but also their families and communities. And those effects have been borne disproportionately by minorities, communities of colour, and the socio-economically disadvantaged. Legalising cannabis alone does not equal justice. Together, we must address the ongoing harms of past prohibition and leave no cannabis prisoner behind.”
The project will be modelled on the US Cannabis Justice Initiative, a collaborative effort between the cannabis industry and volunteer lawyers in the United States. When Norman Reimer was the Executive Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), he partnered with the Last Prisoner Project to establish the initiative.
“Key to the success of the initiative has been generous donations from legal cannabis companies and consumers nationwide,” said Last Prisoner Project Co-Founder Steve DeAngelo. “Fair Trials, with its global reach as the world’s criminal justice watchdog, is uniquely positioned to build and house the infrastructure that’s going to be needed.”
Tomorrow (29 June), Norman Reimer will address the Cannabis Europa Conference discussing the project. Mr Reimer will be part of a panel entitled ‘Leave No Cannabis Prisoner Behind,’ and will be joined on that panel by Mary Bailey, Managing Director at the Last Prisoner Project; Dr. Laura Garius, Policy Lead at Release; and Denzel Uba, an individual impacted by criminal cannabis prohibition.
TOWIE star Amy Childs launches CBD range in honour of Jorja Foundation
The product range sees a portion of the proceeds going to the Jorja Foundation.
TOWIE star Amy Childs launched her new CBD range this week, with a star-studded event that shone a spotlight on the story of six-year-old Jorja Emerson.
Amy Childs was joined by former Love Islanders, Amy Hart and Cara Delahoyde-Massey, alongside her co-stars, Frankie Essex, Tom Skinner, Carina Lepore, Saffron Lempriere and Mark Ferris, for a heart-warming event celebrating the launch of her new CBD Infused beauty range, Jorja Botanicals.
The signature collection sees a portion of the proceeds going to the Jorja Foundation, which was set up in honour of six-year-old medical cannabis patient, Jorja Emerson.
The event saw The Only Way Is Essex star Frankie Essex, break down in tears as she heard Jorja’s story. Frankie, who gave birth to twins four weeks ago, wiped her eyes when Robin Emerson, Jorja’s father, showed videos of the life-threatening seizures his daughter was suffering before they discovered medical cannabis.
Love Island star, Amy Hart has since taken to Instagram to spread the word about the latest political campaign that sees Childs and Emerson petitioning to make medical cannabis more widely available on the NHS.
The Jorja Botanicals range was inspired by Jorja, who was diagnosed with a rare chromosome abnormality called 1q43q44 deletion, which has a side effect of life-threatening seizures. Her illness resulted in her being admitted to intensive care on two separate occasions, where Robin was told that she may not make it.
To save his daughter’s life, Emerson knew that he had to dig deep and find a treatment that would not only help Jorja but ultimately go on to help others.
At the time it was still illegal to prescribe cannabis in the UK. Emerson joined the campaign to see medical cannabis legalised in the UK in November 2018, and Jorja’s was among the first children to be legally prescribed medicinal cannabis.
In 2021 he went on to create the Jorja Foundation – a charity set up to help other families and children going through the same battles that Robin had to face.
The Jorja Foundation’s core principles are to fund special needs equipment that is not funded through the health system, fund family counselling, private appointments and tests when a second opinion is needed, as well s cannabis-based treatment for children in the UK and to continue to campaign and educate for wider NHS access in the UK for cannabis-based medications.
Childs commented: “When I saw Robin & Jorja’s story on social media it broke my heart.
“As a mum, I couldn’t imagine the pain of being told to take my child home to say goodbye to them. I love that Robin has fought for Jorja & is now helping other families with the Jorja Foundation.
“I’m so happy that I can help the foundation by being the Creative Director of Jorja Botanicals. We have created some beautiful products for the whole family to enjoy. We will be donating a percentage of the proceeds to the foundation so that we can help as many families as possible. ”
Emerson added: “ This is the fruition of a lot of hard work over many months and I am extremely proud to launch what is the first family brand in this category. In the coming weeks, we will also be launching a ‘parent’ focused cosmetic range in partnership with our creative director Amy Childs and our premium line of tincture oils.”
South Africa launches first trial of cannabis for chronic pain
The study will test whether cannabis can replace opioids in the management of chronic pain.
South Africa’s first cannabis trial has launched after initial results “show promise” for the treatment as a replacement for opioids.
The study will involve 1,000 participants who have been taking opioids for pain management for at least three months and are prepared to switch to cannabis as an alternative.
Biodata is the brainchild of Dr Shiksha Gallow, a cannabis clinician and the principal investigator in the trial which took over 18 months to get official clearance.
Dr Gallow said the trial is set to be ground-breaking as South Africa’s first real-world study of medical cannabis. Researchers predict that it will provide much-needed insight into the link between cannabis genetics and patient outcomes.
Dr Gallow told Cannabiz Africa: “We are currently recruiting patients, and data-capturing all the questionnaires and feedback from the patients for the live Study. It has been fairly slow. However, more options have been introduced, as suggested by the patients in the pilot study.
“The pilot results of the study were very promising, as it showed 98 per cent of the patients have some sort of pain relief from the cannabis.
“We were able to wean these patients off their opioid treatment. In the pilot group of patients below the age of 55, it was shown this group preferred to smoke cannabis and patients older than 55 years preferred oil. The patients who smoked the cannabis had relief almost immediately, while the oil took some time to alleviate their pain.”
“Once we reach the sample size required and all of the relevant data has been collated, the results of the study will be published. We have currently renewed this study for another year, due to the initial slow uptake of research participants.”
Patients can apply to be research participants through the Biodata website.
Labat is expanding its footprint over the next few months with the introduction of CannAfrica kiosks in major shopping malls.
The company believes these will be the “ideal locations for physical sign-up points for the study”.
Labat said the kiosks will also serve as Biodata dispensaries and is engaging with a number of vape stores to do the same, although these would have to be subject to South African Health Products Regulatory Authority’s pharma-ethics requirements.
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