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Tory MP Sir Richard Body
"We've lost the battle against drugs...we have got to look at new tactics"
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Friday, 9 June, 2000, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Cannabis bill blocked
Cannabis plants
New laws would allow doctors to prescribe cannabis
A controversial bill seeking the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes has been blocked by its opponents.

The bill belongs to Labour MP Paul Flynn and was due to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday, but some MPs deliberately stalled debate in Parliament and there was no time left to debate the proposals.

This meant that the bill, backed by MPs from all parties, has been lost and stands no chance of becoming law.

A cross-party group of MPs signed a motion backing the bill, demanding that doctors should be allowed to prescribe cannabis to people suffering from chronic pain caused by multiple sclerosis, Aids and the side effects of chemotherapy.

"Legislative assassins"

Mr Flynn, a long-standing campaigner for relaxation of cannabis laws, said he was frustrated that his bill had been lost.

He said the MPs who were delaying proceedings in the House of Commons to stop bills like his being debated were "legislative assassins".

Pledging to try again to force a change in the law, he said his bill had the backing of many senior MPs

Legalisation of cannabis for medical use has been recommended by a House of Lords science and technology committee.

The committee suggested a limited number of doctors should be allowed to prescribe cannabis to named patients in the same way that millions of other prescriptions are dispensed.

The government had already indicated that it would not support the bill if it had been debated in the House of Commons.

Cannabis cafes

Mr Flynn, MP for Newport West, has also sponsored a motion in the House of Commons calling for cannabis cafes to be set up in Britain along the lines of those in the Netherlands.


MP Paul Flynn
Paul Flynn: Cafes would be properly policed

The Commons motion on cafes has been signed by 13 other MPs at Westminster - including three Conservatives.

They all want the licensed cafes to be set up on a trial basis and say the plan has the support of the Police Federation.

But the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs has called on parties in the Assembly to distance themselves from the move by MPs.

'Making matters worse'

Mr Flynn said that a Police Foundation report had found that after 20 years of drug decriminalisation in the Netherlands, young people there use cannabis less than they do in Britain.

They also discovered that young Dutch people were less likely to use heroin than in any country in Europe.

"It is clear that the British policy on prohibition of drugs is not working and indeed is actually making matters worse," Mr Flynn told BBC News Online.

"We need a system which can be licensed and properly policed."

However the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs has called on parties in the Assembly to distance themselves from MPs who have supported proposals for the Amsterdam-style cannabis coffee shops.

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12 Jul 99 | Wales
MP Flynn backs cannabis call
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