President of Bristol University's Conservative Association criticises government stance on legalising cannabis

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The President of Bristol University's Conservative Association (BUCA) has spoken out against the Conservative party government and Prime Minister, as he advocates the legalisation of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use.

Speaking exclusively to Epigram, the BUCA President, Harry Eastley-Jones, criticised Theresa May for being 'predictably and frustratingly stubborn to take decisive action', as he believes the drug should be legal.

Eastley-Jones' support of legalising the Class B drug for recreational and medicinal use may come as a surprise to some, as the Conservatives are often least expected to be in favour. For the BUCA President, however, it is his Conservative principles that inform his advocacy of the drug's legalisation.

The BUCA President, Harry Eastley-Jones, criticised Theresa May for being 'predictably and frustratingly stubborn to take decisive action.'

'It is clear it has helped sufferers from epilepsy such as Alfie Dingley', he said, 'and as a Conservative and a believer in individual liberty, it appears clear to me the government has no business in prohibiting what substances someone can take during their leisure time.'

He added: 'It may cause some damage if overused, however, it is not the government’s place to regulate this. If people want to take it with the risks that entail, they should be able to.'

David Cameron backed legalising the drug in 2007, but Theresa May, as the then Home Secretary, opposed this. The laws surrounding cannabis have again come to public attention following high-profile cases of children with severe epilepsy being denied access to cannabis oil to control their seizures.

Whilst the incumbent Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has since launched a review into medicinal cannabis, the government has emphasised it has no intention to legalise it for recreational purposes due to its damaging health effects.

The BUCA President further challenged the Conservative Prime Minister's refusal to consider legalising the drug recreationally, as he told Epigram: 'I believe May in particular is siding with the rigid authoritarian wing of the party. This is not the sort of conservatism I believe in or the type I think most of our voters or members do. We should be championing the right’s of the individual not the power of the state.'

'This is not the sort of conservativsm I believe in' - BUCA President, Harry Eastley-Jones

The legalisation of cannabis is a viewpoint which, less surprisingly to some, is shared by the leaders of Bristol's Liberal Democrat Society and Bristol Labour Students too. Bristol Lib Dem Students President, Max Langer, told Epigram: 'Cannabis should be made legal for both medical and recreational use.

'Its prohibition is not only illiberal, it provides a revenue for criminal organisations whilst denying treatment to those suffering from epilepsy and a range of other illnesses. A regulated market would allow the government to control the quality of cannabis (like it can with any legal drug), as well as to gain revenue from its taxation.'

Similalry, Bristol Labour Students Co-Chair, Ruth Day, said: 'The recent case of Billy Caldwell shows that the UK law on medical marijuana is outdated and genuinely puts people at risk. Cannabis oils and medicines with the THC compound in it can genuinely improve people’s quality of life, help with epileptic seizures, and reduce pain and anxiety, so the Government should certainly legalise medical marijuana.'

She added: 'By regulating usage this will protect people’s health by ensuring it’s not mixed with other more dangerous substances, end the racism of drug law enforcement which predominantly and unfairly targets those from BME backgrounds, and even will save this country money spent on drug law enforcement, so there are real benefits to legalisation.'

All three agree with one another that the War on Drugs has failed. Day said: 'Despite around $100 billion a year being spent on fighting drug usage around the world, the global demand for drugs has increased to around 240 million people using worldwide.

'Drug law enforcement predominantly and unfairly targets those from BME backgrounds' - Bristol Labour Students Co-Chair, Ruth Day

She added: 'The War on Drugs has a devastating effect on communities of colour, we see huge disparities in arrests compared to drug users who are white, which is disgraceful and truly highlights the failure of the War on Drugs.

Langer agreed that the War on Drugs has failed, telling Epigram that 'when you have roughly four times the population of Bristol disobeying a law you can’t claim that the law is working'. The BUCA President added: 'Like all prohibitions it has drained police resources, put money in the hands of criminal gangs and done nothing to reduce the consumption of drugs.

'We should instead aim for a properly legalised and regulated drug market which will improve the quality of cannabis and therefore the health of its users.'

'When you have roughly four times the population of Bristol disobeying a law you can’t claim that the law is working.' - Bristol Lib Dem Students President, Max Langer

The President Bristol Green Students has been approached for their views on legalising cannabis.

Cannabis is currently a Class B drug, meaning you can get up to seven years in jail for possession and up to fourteen for supplying. You can find out more about the drug, its effects and the law here.

Featured Image: Flickr / David Gach


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AUTHOR

Ed Southgate

Co-Editor in Chief 2018-2019 | Editor of Epigram Comment 2017-2018 | Third Year English student | Email: editor@epigram.org.uk | Twitter: @ed_southgate

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