Gale`s View –  10th July 2013
 
I learned, last week, that it is legally permissible to sell and to purchase cannabis seeds.  Not only that but there are, it seems, a significant number of shops trading in this commodity which is sold to “collectors”. In certain circles all of this is clearly common knowledge but as a do not frequent shops that sell “smoking paraphernalia” it came as news to me.
 
Kent constabulary spends a certain amount of its time trying to control the dealing in  and use of prohibited substances. That list includes the so called “hard” drugs such as heroin and it also includes cannabis, the growing of which is illegal.  It seems to me little short of bizarre that on the one hand we restrict the growing of the plant while on the other hand we permit the sale of the seeds from which those self-same plants are grown!  I accordingly tabled a written question to the Home Secretary, due for answer this week,  asking her if she will introduce the legislation necessary to prevent the sale of the means to grow the drug as well as the drug itself.
 
This, and the attendant publicity, generated an irate call to the House of Commons from a gentleman who told me that what he did with and to his body was his business and not mine and that he didn`t want “men with guns coming to lock me up in a cage” because I was seeking a change to the law.  Now, as a Conservative, I have a view that so long as it does not do any harm to other people we should not try to over-regulate individual liberties and that what people do to themselves, through the use of legally bought tobacco or alcohol for example, is their business.  Up to a point.
 
The problem with the libertarian view is that drugs are harmful, they do damage people and pretty soon (and this of course applies equally to the excessive use of tobacco or alcohol) the taxpayer is left picking up the hospital, social care or policing  bill for the wreckage.  I accept entirely that for certain medical conditions there is an appropriate clinical and therapeutic use for cannabis, as indeed there is for some opiates. That, though, has to be wholly separate from the illicit production of and  trade in narcotics. I saw enough during my spell as a Special Constable to convince me that on balance “soft” drugs do lead, although not inexorably, to the use of harder drugs and therefore, on balance,  a maintained and enforced ban is necessary.
 
I accept that there is a counter argument but what I am absolutely certain of is that if it is illegal to grow cannabis, as it is, then it must also be illegal to trade in the means by which cannabis plants are grown. There has to be some sense of consistency within the law or the law is an ass. I hope very much that the Home secretary will take the point.

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