Labour MPs blame own party for robbing Parliament of medicinal cannabis vote

Today veteran MP Paul Flynn’s Private Member’s Bill that would have paved the way for Alfie Dingley, 6, who has a sever form of epilepsy and others like him to legally receive the medicinal cannabis they urgently need was filibustered by Tory and Labour MP’s.

Speaking outside parliament Newport West MP Paul Flynn and his Welsh Labour colleague Tonia Antoniazzi fumed at their own party for letting down those Alfie whose case they had championed in Parliament.

Paul Flynn said those who had sabotaged the vote had a “heart of stone,” and vowed to find out if the Parliamentary Labour Party had been complicit in talking out the vote.

Both MP’s apologised to Alfie’s family and others needing medicinal cannabis on behalf of their party.

Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi told The London Economic that she would be talking to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as well as the Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth. The Welsh MP said she believed the Bill had been filibustered and apologised on behalf of her own colleagues to “Alfie and his family and everybody else affected.”

The practice of filibustering is when MP’s talk for too long to allow Private Member’s Bills sponsored by individual MP’s to be heard in Parliament.

The first bill of the day- Geoffrey Robinson MP’s bill on organ donation was passed to second reading, making some sort of opt out system of organ donation that will save a great many lives likely.

But the much less contentious second bill on overseas voters which was on a topic that featured in the Conservative manifesto anyway, had MPs delivering long speeches including Ipswich Labour MP Sandy Martin’s 45 minutes ramble to time out Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn’s Bill on legalising medicinal cannabis.

Paul Flynn, 83 has brought the issue up on Parliament 120 times in his 30 years as a Labour MP

As we appear to have passed the point at which it would have been possible to consider the next Bill, I want the House to know that there will be a public demonstration outside in which democracy will work,” Flynn had remonstrated in Parliament during a 25 minute speech by his colleague Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Paul Flynn, 83, has brought the issue up 120 times in Parliament in his 30 years as a Labour MP”We will have a debate on the cruel effects of the present law on young children and those in serious health difficulties, including a young boy who is suffering, and whose parents are suffering, in a terrible way,” fumed an exasperrated Flynn.

“What has happened here today has been a filibuster organised by one party, and I am ashamed to say that I am a member of that party.”

MP’s of every single party had expressed sympathy for the family of Alfie Dingley, 6, this week in parliament and called for them to be allowed to give their epileptic son the cannabis-based treatment that had turned around his life chances when he was given it in Holland.

Speaking to The London Economic outside parliament, both Antoniazzi and Flynn vowed to carry on fighting for those gathered outside parliament with medical conditions ranging from cancer to arthritis, MS and epilepsy and to return with another attempt at the Private Member’s Bill on July 6.

They accused the Labour Parliamentary Party of being “scared of the word cannabis.”

Paul Flynn, 83, first elected as a Labour MP in 1987 launched a fierce attack on his colleagues, calling them “cowardly.” He vowed to keep fighting for Alfie’s family and others, “so he can access drugs legally.”

Something had to be done quickly, Flynn insisted, pleading for “some sort of dispensation to be made for Alfie and everybody else that needs medicinal cannabis”

He said after this week’s sense in Parliament when MPs from all sides backed Alfie’s family’s plea, he had no doubt if MP’s had been allowed a free vote today the law could have been changed. In the Welsh Assembly a similar vote was won 31 votes to 2. In the UK cannabis for all uses remains illegal as it is a Class B drug.

In Parliament, Flynn had accused MPs of sabotaging the bill by talking it out. However, when he accused his colleagues of the practice, Epping Forest Tory Eleanor Lang snapped at him from the speaker’s chair. Flynn fumed at his Labour colleague, Sandy Martin MP, who he said talked so long the bill was avoided.

“One of the MP’s talking today talked non-stop for 15 minutes at one point,” Flynn told The London Economic. – “that was enough time to pass this bill.”

Addressing those gathered outside parliament, Flynn called for those needing it to have access to a “medicine approved in 14 countries in the world and banned here, banned irrationally, banned by bad science.”

Referring to Conservative Home Office Drugs Minister Victoria Atkins Flynn said: “Giving a few drops of cannabis to a young boy is not going to set off a crimewave. But we’ve got a spokeswoman on the Conservative Party who happens to be married to a person who works for GM Pharmaceuticals that sell cannabis at a hugely inflated price. That’s the reason why the Health Minister didn’t reply to the debate in the House of Commons.”

Flynn insisted: “We have the evidence of 5,000 years of cannabis use in every continent in the planet. If there was any evidence of it damaging with it would be known. And we have got medicinal drugs that they approve of and have killed people on an industrial scale from Thalidomide to Valproate.

“But we have a corrupt system of regulating drugs that is run by Big Pharma not by by Big Science – which is us. There is a difference. How can we respect a Party that treats in the Commons the treatment of a young child and all those others suffering from MS as though it’s a problem of law and order.”

Alfie Dingley with his father Drew Dingley (c) Hannah Deacon

Alfie Dingley, from Kenilworth, Warwickshire, suffers up to 30 violent seizures a day.

The Home Office have denied his family’s request for a licence to have the cannabis he was given in Holland that saved him from this fate. But speaking in the House of Lords yesterday, Health minister Baroness Williams hinted some exception may be made, saying “every option is being considered” by ministers.

She said there was “huge amount of sympathy” for Alfie and his family and that the policing minister and  home secretary “want to explore every option within the current regulatory framework including issuing a licence”, under section 30 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Campaigners and patients had travelled to Parliament from across the country. One from Mansfield, told The London Economic that her Stage 4 lung cancer had “shrunk by half” since taking a high strength THC cannabis oil in Tenerife that would be illegal in the UK. She said she wanted the chance to be able to access such medicine in the UK.

Another, a retired DJ from Croydon, had been using cannabis for his rheumatoid arthritis, as the ordinary pharmaceutical pain relief he had been prescribed had not worked. He said the plants he had grown himself so as not to have to resort to dealers had been confiscated by the police and he was waiting to hear if he would be charged by the CPS.

Accountant Tommy McNally told how after his son had stopped breathing and been put into an induced coma due to his epileptic fits that “can go on for hours,” he had researched cannabis on the internet.

“After last November when he was put on a ventilator I was determined it would never happen again. The last time he had a fit we gave him the only thing that has been able to stop his fits ever – we rubbed home-made cannabis oil into his gums and it stopped.”

@BenGelblum

MORE:

UK Drugs Minister opposes cannabis law reform while her husband profits from a license to grow it

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5 Responses

  1. Chris L

    Shame this article is almost exclusively based on people mis-representing how Parliament actually functions. This bill was never likely to be debated on this day – it was third in a long list of things which theoretically could be reached. It didn’t even feature in Parliament’s official write-up of the potential business for the day: https://t.co/ujkU52SYdK

    I get why campaigners want to talk up the issue as though there was a chance of a victory yesterday, but it’s then particularly dumb to start randomly throwing out accusations against the people tackling the scheduled business of the day as though failing to skim over that was in any way related to medical use of cannabis.

    This is basically fake news and does a dis-service to the normally sensible London Economic.

    1. Ben Gelblum

      The Bill was on proceedings but isn’t now as it didn’t get discussed and has been delayed until July. The accusations of filibustering came from MPs actually rather than campaigners. 45 minute speeches on the Bill before this was due to be discussed as the third bill of the day before were somewhat ridiculous when it was an issue everyone agreed on that was in the Tories’ manifesto anyway. One Tory MP this week pointed out that in a free vote this legislation would be passed. Whether all MPs want British people to have medicinal cannabis and not pharmaceutical alternatives on there NHS is another matter…

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