A Conservative thinktank suggests that liberal reform of Britain's drugs policy might appeal to the young and ethnic minorities. So what does the drugs community think?
Conservative thinktank Bright Blue launches its Modernisers' Manifesto today with 2015's general election in mind. One of its many eye-catching recommendations is reform of Britain's cannabis laws, which, it argues, would appeal to young and ethnic-minority voters. But would the people who care about cannabis really vote for a pro-cannabis Tory party? Here's what three drugs reform campaigners have to say about the idea.
Orson Boon, promoter, London Cannabis Club
"I am encouraged they are at least talking about it, but I don't trust the Tories to keep their word: David Cameron supported law change more than 10 years ago and changed his tune when he got into power. I can see it could mean more people voting for them, but many people we talk with have no trust for the Tories, so the party would have to prove that it isn't just a cynical, vote-winning idea. If the Tories want this to be a vote-winner, they have to convince us they genuinely support reform and can be trusted."
Jason Reed, UK co-ordinator, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
"It's good to see progressive thinking around cannabis is becoming mainstream and is no longer divided along party lines. Like gay marriage, cannabis reform will need cross-party support. It's less to do with politics and more to do with how policies affect society; whoever is in power, cannabis prohibition costs £500m in policing alone each year. I'm not sure it will encourage people to vote Conservative, but this is an issue that can get the next generation of voters to look at politicians with new eyes. What is happening here parallels the US, where a conversation around cannabis reform was started by campaigners. That was followed by a moral groundswell and it became a mainstream debate. The Tea Party and Sarah Palin supported the cannabis lobby; it fitted their centre-right mantra of small government and free market."
Greg de Hoedt, president, UK Cannabis Social Clubs
"It's brilliant that the Conservatives are taking notice of what's happening in America, wider evidence and popular opinion. At the same time, it's not that surprising – the home affairs select committee said drug laws were failing. And this government has issued thousands of licenses allowing 300 tonnes of cannabis to be grown in Britain by pharmaceutical companies. It might lead to more people engaging in politics but it won't translate into Tory votes. The Conservatives have had a hardline attitude towards cannabis and have not been kind to our community. There's no trust in politicians, especially at election time, when parties embrace policies that they don't follow through on. The Greens have been calling for change for a decade; MEP Caroline Allen spoke at the 420 Day, drugs rally this month; that's real support. The Conservatives are playing fast. If they are serious they should talk to us – that's why we're here."