Cannabis war 'comprehensively lost', says William Hague
Former Conservative leader Lord Hague has called for a "decisive change" in the law on cannabis - suggesting that the Tories should consider legalising recreational use of the drug.
Lord Hague said the episode (read the article) "provides one of those illuminating moments when a longstanding policy is revealed to be inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date".
By returning the medicine, the Home Office had "implicitly conceded that the law has become indefensible", he said.
Lord Hague said licensing cannabis for medical use would be a "step forward", but also said the Conservatives should be as "bold" as Canada where state-regulated recreational consumption was being considered.
But, in a message to his party colleagues, he said: "We are pragmatists, who change with society and revise our opinions when the facts change. On this issue, the facts have changed very seriously and clearly."
"As far as marijuana, or cannabis, is concerned, any war has been comprehensively and irreversibly lost," he said.
It was "nothing short of deluded" to think the drug could be driven off the streets, and he compared ordering the police to crack down on its use with "asking the army to recover the Empire. This battle is effectively over".
He said the fact that cannabis was both illegal and widely available effectively permitted "the worst of all worlds" to arise: encouraging more potent and dangerous variants of the drug, with users reluctant to seek help.
"The overall result is the rise of a multi-billion pound black market for an unregulated and increasingly potent product, creating more addiction and mental health problems but without any enforceable policy to do something about it.
"The only beneficiaries are organised crime gangs. It is absolutely unacceptable to allow this situation to continue."
The majority of assembly members in Wales, the SNP and all parties in Northern Ireland except the DUP have backed medical legalisation of cannabis
The Royal College of Nursing also voted overwhelmingly in favour of lobbying the government to make it legal for medical use last month
The Liberal Democrats pledged to legalise selling and growing cannabis as part of its election manifesto last year
The Royal College of Psychiatrists says legalisation for recreational and medicinal use should be considered as distinct. It says cannabis carries significant mental health risks but it supports the medicinal use of approved cannabis products
This mind-change of a conservative can, finally, open the door to legalizing Cannabis?