A US investment fund enlists the help of Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, in new push to legalise the sale of cannabis in the UK

The Liberal Democrats have become the first mainstream political party to call for the legalisation of cannabis.

In a landmark vote at the party’s spring conference, delegates voted in favour of licensing shops to sell cannabis in plain packaging and with health warnings to adults in Britain.

Householders would also be allowed to legally cultivate marijuana and harvest the drug for personal consumption.

“The tide is turning, and it is simply a matter of time before European countries, including the UK, follow suit. I’m delighted that the Liberal Democrats are the first political party in the UK to commit to follow the US example” – Nick Clegg –

 

The ground breaking policy comes amid a new push for the legalisation of cannabis in Britain following similar moves in the US and Canada.

On Thursday, a US investment fund, which has a 30-year deal to sell cannabis under the brand name of the reggae star Bob Marley, met with Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, to enlist his support in pushing for the legalisation of cannabis in the UK.

Marley-Natural-1_3593627b.jpg       Norman Lamb of the Liberal Democrats

Mr Clegg’s spokesman said the MP had offered advice at last Thursday’s meeting but was not planning a formal, paid relationship with the Seattle-based investment company Privateer Holdings.

“This was an informal meeting to discuss a policy issue that Nick is very interested in,” said Mr Clegg’s spokesman.

FULL FACT    

Cannabis and the law

  • Cannabis is categorised as a Class B drug and anyone caught in possession could face up to five years in prison, as well as an unlimited fine.
  • Cannabis is categorised as a Class B drug and anyone caught in possession could face up to five years in prison, as well as an unlimited fine.
  • Police forces are able to apply the law as they see fit with some areas taking a more lenient approach to drug use. In 2001 police in Lambeth, south London, trialed a scheme where people caught smoking the drug simply had it confiscated and received a warning. The system was tightened up in 2002.

 

Privateer Holdings predicts a huge boom in the cannabis industry following the legalisation of the drug in Colorado and relaxation of laws in three other US states, including California. Ten further states are expected to legalise or decriminalise cannabis in the next year prompting a renewed push for a change in the UK laws.

With the global industry reckoned to be worth £200 billion worldwide, its legalisation, campaigners argue, would see a huge boost to government coffers through taxes on sales.

The Liberal Democrats backed an independent report, commissioned by the party, which detailed how a regulated cannabis market could work in the UK, alongside the sale of tobacco and alcohol.

Norman Lamb, the Lib Dems’ health spokesman, said: “The war on drugs has been a catastrophic failure. We give billions of pounds every year to organised crime. When people buy cannabis from criminals, they have no idea what they are buying.

Marley-Natural-2_3593630b                     Neil Closner, MedReleaf, chief executive officer poses for photographs at the growing facility in Markham, Ontario

“So regulating the sale of cannabis, controlling the potency and taking the trade away from criminals makes sense in terms of public health and community safety.”

Mr Clegg, the Lib Dem’s former leader, had made no secret of his call for the legalised, regulated sale of cannabis in Britain. “Canada, a number of states across the United States and others are moving rapidly to having legal, regulated cannabis markets,” said Mr Clegg. “The tide is turning, and it is simply a matter of time before European countries, including the UK, follow suit. I’m delighted that the Liberal Democrats are the first political party in the UK to commit to follow the US example and to set out in detail what a tightly controlled market would look like.”

Privateer Holdings is reckoned to be the first serious investor to back expansion in the cannabis market. It signed a deal with the family of Bob Marley to sell cannabis under the brand Marley Natural for recreational use and also sells the drug for medicinal purposes. The fund has already raised £60 million, a quarter of it through City investors in London, and expects to raise a further £70 million this year.

Marley-Natural-3_3593628b        Norman Lamb (L) and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats

Brendan Kennedy, Privateer Holding’ chief executive, said: “Britain will one day inevitably legalise cannabis. Our intention is to build a global company. This industry is worth $300 billion worldwide. There are not many growth industries starting from scratch worth that kind of money and in which no large companies are operating. One day we will have Marley Natural flagship stores around the world. One of them will be in London.”

Cannabis is currently outlawed in the UK. It was temporarily downgraded to a Class C drug in 2004 but reinstated as a class B drug after a public outcry in 2009. Possession can lead to a prison sentence of up to five years and an unlimited fine while anybody caught dealing the drug faces up to 14 years in jail. Police have the discretion to issue a warning for people caught in possession with cannabis or an on-the-spot fine of £90.

Marley-Natural-4_3593626b.jpg                 Marley Natural cannabis in containers

It’s time to legalise the drug, says US investor selling Bob Marley-branded cannabis

By Brendan Kennedy, chief executive of Privateer Holdings, a US based investment firm

It is nearly 50 years since Mick Jagger, now a knight of the realm, was prosecuted for cannabis possession. Since then society, health awareness, and medical science have advanced rapidly.

And we now find ourselves amidst an accelerating global movement to end prohibition.

Reform is well underway in advanced economies around the world. In the US, a majority of Americans now live in a state where medical cannabis is legal.

Medical cannabis is legal in 23 states, and recreational cannabis is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

In Europe, use of medical and therapeutic cannabis is permitted in various forms in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. Canada already has a national medical cannabis program and is poised to become the first G-7 nation to legalize recreational cannabis. Australia is investing heavily in medical cannabis research, with support from state and federal authorities.

As populations age in developed countries around the world, and as health systems struggle to help patients manage symptoms associated with a range of chronic conditions from pain to arthritis, there is renewed interest in medicines naturally derived from cannabis.

Marley-Natural-5_3593631b.jpg             Joints containing different types of cannabis are seen in their jars at a coffee shop in the southern Dutch city of Bergen op Zoom

These medicines have mild to non-existent side effects compared to highly addictive opioid pain medications.

As attitudes change, and as prohibition is rolled back, it makes sense to ask what next?

Brands are already shaping the future of the global industry. Brands have the power to eliminate black market criminal cartels by providing reassurance to consumers, and promising safety and consistency.

We are seeing the establishment of safe, regulated, pharmaceutical-grade quality control. Consumers have a right to know what they are buying, and to access products free from pesticides, heavy metals, mould, mildew, and fungus.

Cannabinoid-based medicines will disrupt the palliative care market. New studies point to the safety and efficacy of cannabinoid-based medicines in chronic pain management as an attractive alternative to dangerous and highly addictive opioid drugs.

And people suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, arthritis, and other conditions will benefit from increased research and development of safe and effective medicines derived from cannabis.

Those countries that have the foresight to legislate and regulate properly will have significant first-mover advantage. Already jurisdictions are establishing successful production facilities and historic clinical research programmes.

In the coming years an increasing number of governments will recognise the societal benefits of legalisation, which include tax revenues, putting criminal gangs out of business, and ending drugs violence. Young people and sick people will be spared the stigma of criminal records. And investors with foresight will generate meaningful social and financial returns.

 

SOURCES: http://www.telegraph.co.uk, by ROBERT MANDICK                                                                 Pax 2 by Ploom – WORLD”S #1 BRAND VAPORIZER

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