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What is the Elizabeth Brice Bill, and What Will It Mean to the UK?

On October 10, 2017, Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes) Bill 2017-19, known as the Elizabeth Brice Bill was introduced to the U.K.’s House of Commons. The bill, which was read under the Ten Minute Rule by its sponsor, MP Paul Flynn of Newport West. If passed it’s a bill that could mean greater health and relief for anyone suffering from several medical conditions in United Kingdom.

Originally posted on 30th July 2018, updated on 30th January 2019

What is the Elizabeth Brice Bill about?

The Elizabeth Brice Bill would “allow the production, supply, possession, and use of cannabis and cannabis resin for medicinal purposes.” Essentially, it would legalize the use of medical marijuana in the UK.

elizabeth-brice-bill-medical-cannabis-protest-ukThe bill was brought forward by Paul Flynn. Not only is Flynn a member of Parliament, he’s also a patron of the United Patients Alliance, a group that has been campaigning for the legal use of medical marijuana in the U.K. since 2014. Flynn’s passion for the bill stems from the person for who the bill was named - Elizabeth Brice.

Elizabeth Brice also campaigned for many years to have medical marijuana legalized in the U.K. After achieving many accomplishments in her life, she contracted multiple sclerosis at the young age of 26. As part of her fight, she sat on the terrace of Parliament having a cup of cannabis tea. With Elizabeth Brice no longer around to continue her very important fight, Paul Flynn has taken up the torch.

After proposing the Elizabeth Brice Bill under the Ten Minute Rule, there was no second speech to debate it. Instead the House of Commons passed it, allowing it to get a first reading. After the first reading, the House of Commons then approved a second reading, which was a real show of support for the bill.

In his motion, Flynn also acknowledged that the bill was already receiving support from people and organizations around the United Kingdom. One of those people was Queen Elizabeth herself who, Flynn stated, would be in support of the bill as she uses the substance every day. He also presented a letter of support from the Multiple Sclerosis Society, stating that it was time the U.K. followed the way of other countries including Canada, Ireland, and Germany,  allowing patients access to medical marijuana.

What reading stage is the Elizabeth Brice bill at?

Even though the Elizabeth Brice Bill received wide support in the House when it was first proposed by Flynn, it has seen some setbacks. After its first reading in the House, it was then approved for a second reading. That second reading was to take place in February of 2018.

However, when time ran out during that February session, that reading was then pushed back. It is now expected to occur on October 26, 2018. Supporters can only hope until then that the October session has plenty of time for the reading and that it does not get pushed back once again.


Should the bill get its second reading on October 26, it will then move to the committee stage; and that stage will have its own date. From there it’s really just a matter of the bill passing the committee. Once that happens, medical marijuana would be approved into law around the United Kingdom. However, the bill actually getting its second reading might not be the only setback it could see.

The fact is that only a very small number of bills introduced by private members get passed and made into law. In the last 20 years, only three of the private member bills that have been proposed under the Ten Minute Rule have been passed and made into legislation. The good news though, is that Paul Flynn proposed one of those three bills.

How can it help the UK?

Allowing the legal use of medical marijuana would help people who need it the most. Those with debilitating conditions such as multiple sclerosis (just as Elizabeth Brice had), epilepsy, and cancer could benefit from it the most. This has been proven in studies including, one found here from The Lancet stating the cannabis can be very effective in helping with the symptoms stemming from multiple sclerosis.

elizabeth-brice-bill-medical-cbd-oilIt would also help those suffering from ailments that while still could be debilitating, are less serious than those other serious conditions. Patients suffering from arthritis, asthma, chronic pain, glaucoma, and more could greatly benefit from legalized use of medical marijuana, as shown in this study conducted by The Alberta College of Family Physicians. This study concluded that 39 percent of its participants experienced a reduction in chronic pain after being given cannabis.

In addition to helping those patients that need it the most, it’s also been proven that allowing medical marijuana is good for the economy. And this is true in two different ways.

Firstly, it takes some of the pressure off hospitals, health clinics, and doctor’s offices. If more patients could find treatments on their own, and not have to overcrowd healthcare facilities, it costs the public health system less. Therefore, the healthcare workers in those facilities could also provide better care to their patients.

It has been shown that economies that legalize marijuana in some form thrive. Canada expects to boost their economic line when recreational marijuana becomes legal in October 2018. The economies of the 23 states in the U.S. have already improved due to the legislation.

It’s clear that legalizing marijuana is beneficial for the country as a whole. This is the point Paul Flynn and the United Patients Alliance are trying to convince Parliament of on October 26. Hopefully they will be heard.

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MSNL Team / 30th January 2019

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