William Hague’s call for a relaxation in the law on cannabis has been rejected by the government, after the former foreign secretary wrote the war on drugs had been “irreversibly lost”.
In a “rebuttal” posted on its website, the Home Office said ministers had “no intention” of softening the law.
“There has been significant coverage in the media of comments made by Lord Hague in the Daily Telegraph calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis,” the statement said.
“The Home Office has been clear that there is strong scientific and medical evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug which can be detrimental to people’s mental and physical health.
“The Government has no intention of reviewing the classification of cannabis under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and it will remain a Class B drug.”
The rebuttal comes after Theresa May came under increasing political pressure to review the law after cannabis oil was confiscated from a mother bringing it into the UK to treat her epileptic son.
But after Billy Caldwell was rushed to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on Friday night in a critical condition having suffered multiple seizures, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid granted a 20-day emergency licence granting use of the oil.
In response to widespread outrage over the confiscation, the government yesterday announced it will establish an expert clinicians’ panel to advise ministers on any individual applications to prescribe cannabis-based medications.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague, who led the party from 1997 to 2001 and was foreign secretary under David Cameron from 2010 to 2014, called for the party to rethink policy.
He wrote: “Everyone sitting in a Whitehall conference room needs to recognise that, out there, cannabis is ubiquitous, and issuing orders to the police to defeat its use is about as up-to-date and relevant as asking the Army to recover the Empire.
He added: “This battle is effectively over.”
Lord Hague’s comments come after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt conceded “a different way” was needed, and fellow Tory Crispin Blunt, who chairs the All-Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, urged the Home Office to “clear out of the way” and let the Department of Health take control of policy on medical cannabis.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said Labour supports the legal prescription of cannabis oil for medical purposes, saying: “Children have been put at risk and experienced extraordinary suffering because this government drags its heels and refuses to grant cannabis oil licences.”