A petition to legalise marijuana has passed the first hurdle for a parliamentary debate

A parliamentary petition to legalise the production, sale and use of cannabis has gained over 49,000 signatures and counting, which means the government has to issue a formal response to the campaign.

The threshold for a petition to command the government's attention is 10,000 signatures, which it has surpassed by far - and if it reaches 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament.

The most recent example of this was earlier this week when a petition for a vote of no confidence in Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt got more than 100,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

The petition to legalise weed, launched on the 21st July, says:

Legalising cannabis could bring in £900m in taxes every year, save £400m on policing cannabis and create over 10,000 new jobs.

[It is] a substance that is safer than alcohol, and has many uses. It is believed to have been used by humans for over 4000 years, being made illegal in the UK in 1925.

Durham’s police and crime commissioner effectively decriminalised people who grow small amounts of cannabis in their homes on Tuesday, a move which was met with a warm response from drugs reform campaigners.

Lord Paddick, the former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, praised Durham's police force:

The war on drugs has failed and the Tories don’t know how to deal with it. Police resources should be focused on going after dealers, not those people in possession of small quantities of drugs.

While the petition is already at the half-way point before it must be considered as a debate topic in the Commons, the criminal justice minister, Mike Penning, repeated that the government had no plans to ease or legalise cannabis laws, and that those found growing the drug, for whatever reason, would face jail sentences.

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