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Rival candidates predict legalised cannabis on way for UK

By Nina Massey, PA Science Correspondent

It is only a matter of time until cannabis is legalised in the UK, candidates for both Labour and the Conservatives have predicted.

Despite being on opposite sides of the General Election campaign, the issue was something David Lammy and Crispin Blunt agreed on during a panel at the Global Cannabis Institute's Leaders' Summit.

They were joined by former Lib Dem MP and ex chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Committee Sir Norman Lamb, and Baroness Molly Meacher.

Cannabis is currently designated as a Class B drug in the UK and its recreational use is illegal.

However, there has been a shift in attitude towards medicinal products, with the first cannabis-based medicines approved for use on the NHS on Monday. Such moves in other countries has often lead to a relaxation in rules around recreational cannabis taking.

Speaking at the summit in London, Labour parliamentary candidate Mr Lammy said: "I think my own judgment is that generationally Parliament is also moving and changing.

"I think that we are arriving at a position where I don't think we are now any longer in the place where 'will there be regulation and legalisation?', I think it is more about how and when.

"And I suspect on how, there are differences in approaches that the two main parties will take, but I think that this is probably going to happen in the next decade or so."

Tory candidate Mr Blunt said the UK's current cannabis policy had made it very difficult to conduct research on how it can be used in medicine.

He added: "What I am arguing to my colleagues is what we need is policy based on evidence - I am not arguing for an outcome.

"I am arguing to try and create the right environment to consider the evidence.

"It looks as though it is more likely than not to happen."

Mr Blunt told the conference he was not sure how long it would take for such regulations to be created.

Sir Norman had previously led his party's decision to back the legalisation of cannabis.

He became possibly the first serving British MP to openly take a cannabis product on camera after sampling a version of the oil containing THC for a documentary filmed in Canada.

THC is a compound within cannabis which gets users high and it is removed from CBD oil products that can currently be brought in UK shops.

Explaining why he backed the legalisation, Sir Norman said: "My argument has been two-fold: first of all as a liberal, what on earth has the state got to do with what people choose to do in terms of an activity that does not impact on other people?

"This should be the basis for law-making, it seems to me.

"Particularly the hypocrisy when in our Parliament vast volumes of another drug of choice is consumed in the bars around Westminster, a drug that is much more dangerous of course than cannabis," Sir Norman claimed.

"But also my argument has been on the public health basis, because I think we put particularly young people at risk because of the stupid approach that we take through prohibition."

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