Politicians joined a cannabis tea party outside parliament to campaign to legalise the drug for medicinal use.
Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn sat at a table laden with cannabis-infused scones, trifles, and tea ahead of his introduction of a Commons motion seeking to change the law.
He was joined by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran in his effort to persuade the government to allow patients with chronic illnesses to use cannabis to ease their pain.
Neither MP took the drug themselves at the event on Tuesday, although several protesters smoked joints and some tucked into the infused tea and cakes.
Dozens of protesters attended the event, organised by the United Patients Alliance, some of whom suffer from cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Flynn told BuzzFeed News: "We have to say to the government: For goodness' sake, catch up with the rest of the world – 29 American states, Canada, Uruguay, dozens of states in Europe – and allow a responsible legal market to operate to replace a market that’s illegal and dangerous."
Accusing the government of a "prejudice-rich and evidence-free" approach to policy, he added: "The law is an ass. It’s political cowardice, they’re afraid of being mocked on this. I'm afraid politicians don’t get credit for acting intelligently [but] this is the intelligent and compassionate thing to do."
He said cannabis shouldn't be used by patients in cigarette form – but rather as a "drink, food, vapour, or ointment".
Moran said she had a cousin with MS and that one of her best friends died of the disease. "So I know from a personal perspective that the pain they went through, especially towards the end, was just extraordinary," she said, "and if there was anything that we can do to help them then I think this is a good thing."
She said there was a "generational divide" in parliament on the issue. "Most people my age would not blink an eye at me backing a campaign like this," she said. "I think it’s a bit of a no-brainer – I’m fairly certain i’m on the right side of history here."
Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said that while she did smoke cannabis at university, she did not any more. Asked whether she would partake in the cakes on offer, she said: "No, I’ve got work to do."
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at email@example.com.
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