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UK Parliament To Debate Medical Marijuana Bill This Week

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Lawmakers in the United Kingdom are expected to debate medical cannabis legislation on Friday.

The text of the proposal from MP Paul Flynn (Labour) is still being drafted, but it is anticipated to be far-reaching in scope and reschedule cannabis under British law.

The issue of medical marijuana is gaining prominence in the UK as recent press reports have focused on the case of Alfie Dingley, a six-year-old boy whose family is seeking government approval for him to use cannabis to treat severe epilepsy.

The government of Prime Minister Theresa May (Conservative) rejected the family’s appeal this week.

On Tuesday, lawmakers pressed a government official on the issue with a series of questions on the floor of the House of Commons.

Members of various parties — including Conservatives — tore into the government’s position, putting Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd in the position of having to explain why officials are refusing to let a suffering child access helpful medicine.

Flynn’s medical marijuana legislation advanced on first reading in October.

On Friday, the legislation is scheduled third in a series of private members’ bills set to be debated, time permitting.

In remarks on the House floor on Tuesday, Flynn advised Dingley’s family to disregard criminal prohibition and provide him with the cannabis he needs.

“I would urge them to break the law, because the law in this case is an ass,” he said.

Members of May’s Conservative Party are also pushing for medical cannabis, with some calling for a free vote on the matter, during which rank-and-file MPs would not be pressured by party leaders to vote a certain way.

It is unclear if lawmakers will have the opportunity to actually vote on the medical cannabis legislation on Friday. If it is approved at second reading, it will advance to the committee stage at which its details will be more thoroughly be debated.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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