A woman who long campaigned for the medical use of cannabis once put the drug in her tea while on a visit to parliament, an MP has revealed.
Labour's Paul Flynn on Monday told how Elizabeth Brice, who died of multiple sclerosis in 2011 at the age of 54, sipped on cannabis tea on the House of Commons terrace. He said she could have been put in prison for five years for such a crime, adding: "That law is an ass."
Flynn was leading a debate in Westminster Hall on the legalisation of cannabis after a parliamentary e-petition was backed by more than 220,000 people. He said cannabis was the "oldest medicine in the world" and ministers should have the courage to allow patients to access it legally.
The MP for Newport West told how Brice, who campaigned under the name of Clare Hodges, had long campaigned for cannabis to be made available as pain relief. He said cannabis had given her "immediate physical relief", easing the tension in her spine and allowing her to sleep well.
"On one of her visits to the House of Commons she committed a serious crime," he said. "Out on the terrace she asked for a cup of hot water to which she added some green substance and I'm sure the staff were curious about what these green specks were afterwards. But she'd taken herbal cannabis into the House of Commons.
"The law at the moment says she could be put in prison for five years for that crime, seeking relief from her pain. Would anyone believe that is a sensible law? That law is an ass.
"For too long this House has been held back from having the full scale of reform by the timidity of MPs because of a reluctance to reform for a fear of being attacked by the media and losing votes. Now is the time for compassion and courage."
Flynn's speech was cheered and applauded by members of the public gallery – but they were quickly silenced by chair Nigel Evans because applause is against parliamentary rules.
Flynn also said young people were not persuaded by doom-laden warnings to not take drugs – because they "think they're immortal". He argued instead that "fashion" would always underline drug use.
The MP claimed there were actually fewer young drug users now, due to "a new addiction, which is playing with their iPhones and their iPads". He said: "They don't have time to produce a reefer and roll one, this is the new addiction that's taking place.
"There's no correlation between harsh punishment, harsh penalties and the use of drugs, it's entirely to do with fashion and what young people regard as being acceptable."
Tory MP Peter Lilley backed Flynn's call to legalise cannabis for medicinal use. He said: "Even Queen Victoria allegedly used cannabis to relieve menstrual pain and if it's a Victorian value then surely it can be made more widely available."
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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