Cannabis should be legalised within five years, says former Conservative Minister – The Telegraph
Cannabis will be legalised in the UK in the next five years, a former Tory minister chairing an influential parliamentary group on drug reform has predicted.
Crispin Blunt, who supports more liberal drug laws, said discussions about cannabis were “coming into the mainstream of politics”.
Mr Blunt last year set up a lobbying firm funded by overseas cannabis corporations, which he on Tuesday revealed he had already discussed with Boris Johnson.
The group will formally launch on Thursday.
At the Cannabis Europa conference in London on Tuesday, Mr Blunt was asked how long he thought it would be before cannabis was legalised.
“Five years is the time I’m going to aim for,” he said.
“I’m the first Conservative to be the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, and it reflects the fact that this conversation is now coming into the mainstream of politics.”
Mr Blunt founded the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group in September 2018 to push for a government review into policy on medicinal and recreational cannabis in the UK.
It is now wholly owned by investors, after selling around £400,000 in shares to raise funds in February.
Mr Blunt no longer controls or owns any shares in the company but remains chairman of the board of directors, some of whom are executives of major Canadian cannabis corporations with an interest in expanding into the UK.
The MP said he had “not wasted any time” in discussing the group with “the potential leaders of my party”.
Mr Blunt is supporting Boris Johnson in the leadership race, and has long pushed for more liberal laws on drugs in the UK.
In a speech to the House of Commons last month, Mr Blunt called for the UK market to be opened to a “tidal wave of investor money” from North America, where some of his group’s backers are based.
He said the UK should try to take a “decent slug of the global market” in cannabis.
“The public benefit from the United Kingdom pushing on with the science and supporting research could be huge,” he said.
The directors of the group he set up include the CEO of a company that has bought a controlling stake in a company applying for a licence to import medicinal cannabis to the UK.
Mr Blunt’s son Freddie, an Economics graduate from Exeter University, works for the group as an administrator.
Parliamentary transparency rules require MPs to declare all financial interests that could affect their political duties, including any family members’ lobbying activity.
While Mr Blunt has declared his unpaid chairmanship of the company to the House of Commons, he has not declared that his son works for it.
Both Crispin Blunt and Freddie Blunt said Freddie’s work for the company has so far been purely administrative, and that any future lobbying work would be registered in Parliament.
While there is no suggestion that Mr Blunt has broken the transparency rules, he nonetheless faces calls to register the involvement of his son and his company’s connection to the cannabis industry.
Sir Alistair Graham, former Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said it was in the public interest for the details of the company to be registered in the House of Commons.
“The important thing about the rules is that the public ought to know what your particular financial interest is, so that they can make a judgement about any statement you make, your votes in the House of Commons on the issues your company relate to,” he told The Telegraph.
“It’s a very live, current public issue, and he’s seeking to set up a company that will legitimately try to change public policy, and he hasn’t declared his full interest in that,” he said.
Mr Blunt said that while his group seeks to secure a government review of drugs policy, it was “not quite the same as lobbying in support of a particular commercial interest”.
This article originally appeared here in https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/25/cannabis-should-made-legal-2025-says-former-conservative-minister/