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Is the UK finally going to legalise cannabis?

A recent petition has forced MPs to debate the possibility of relaxing current drug laws

The UK government is currently looking into relaxing laws on cannabis research, in a bid to discover whether or not the drug should be legalised.

Parliament agreed to meet and debate the possibility last night after receiving a 223,169-strong petition calling for weed legalisation – and although Home Office minister Mike Penning didn't support the idea, he agreed that the government needed to “look carefully” at the impact of the current laws on medical research.

“I do think we could look carefully... at the research and see why the research isn’t taking place and what effects certain parts of the legislation are taking today,” he said. “We shouldn’t have anything in statute, I think, that prevents research into improving the quality of people’s lives.”

Along with the petition, Penning was also pressured by a group of cross-party MPs who were staunchly in favour of legalisation – raising the point that previous governments have consistently failed to control drug use by criminalising it.

“(Cannabis) has been tried and tested by tens of millions of people for 5,000 years,” Labour MP Paul Flynn said. “If there were any problems with natural cannabis it would have been apparent a long time ago, but all we’ve got is this wall of denial by governments who are afraid of the subject.”

Former Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb was also in favour, bringing up the fact that at least half of the people in that room had probably already smoked the drug anyway.

“There’s an extraordinary hypocrisy on this issue,” he stated. “Senior politicians are frequently challenged about their use of cannabis and other drugs in their teenage and early adult years and admit to such drug use and laugh it off as a youthful indiscretion.”

“And apparently they're comfortable with thousands of their fellow countrymen and women ending up with a criminal record for doing precisely the same thing, usually people who are less fortunate than those politicians who reach the top of government.”