Misinformation from Home Office Leads to Confusion Regarding Cannabis

Earlier this year, Home Office officials from the drugs strategy unit mistakenly announced that under EU law, individuals were permitted to bring small quantities of medicinal cannabis into the UK for personal use, provided they had valid documentation, including a prescription from a doctor in an EU country where the drug was legal.

This incorrect information put anyone who acted on it at risk of prosecution or arrest. Following the announcement, the information was posted online and quickly went viral. Given its stark contrast to UK drug laws banning possession of cannabis under any circumstances, the misinformation led to heated debate over the legal status of the drug.

A spokesperson from the Home Office had initially denied the department’s disseminating this inaccurate information, maintaining that the UK’s position on the matter was clear. In a statement issued, it said: “Cannabis is dangerous and has no medicinal benefits in herbal form. It remains illegal for UK residents to possess cannabis in any form.”

The spokesperson later confirmed that incorrect emails had indeed been sent, however. He suggested that this was due to a misinterpretation by department officials of the Schengen agreement, a 15-year old piece of European legislation.

Those campaigning for the drug’s legalisation are usually sufferers of chronic illness, citing its effectiveness as a pain reliever. Proponents of legalisation describe British drug laws as draconian, and argue that denying it to people in pain is equal to discrimination.