Reclassifying Cannabis vote

In a nutshell

A vote on whether to downgrade the law on cannabis by reclassifying it from class B to C.

The details

On the 29th October 2003 the House of Commons voted on whether to approve the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Modification) (No. 2) Order 2003 which would downgrade cannabis from class B to C. MPs voted to approve the Order by 318 votes to 162.

The Labour Party whipped its MPs to support reclassification, though eleven Labour MPs voted against reclassification. The Liberal Democrat Party also whipped its MPs to support reclassification; two Lib Dem MPs voted against reclassification (Colin Breed and Bob Russell).

The Conservative Party whipped against reclassification. Every Conservative MP who voted, voted against reclassification.

However, the vote in the House of Commons took place while Iain Duncan Smith was leader of the Conservatives. Two weeks later, when under the new leadership of Michael Howard, the Conservatives had the opportunity to block the reclassification of cannabis when the House of Lords voted – but chose not to do so. Michael Howard decided his party should not vote against the Government plans when they were debated in the House of Lords.

The House of Lords supported reclassification by 63 votes to 37. The Conservative front bench abstained. Instead of blocking reclassification, Peers voted to support a separate Conservative motion that allowed reclassification to pass, while merely expressing concern that the plans could increase cannabis use among young people.

The reclassification order applied to the whole of the UK.

How we recorded the vote

  • Voted for reclassifying cannabis to class C in 2003
  • Voted against reclassifying cannabis to class C in 2003
  • Abstained or was absent on the vote for reclassifying cannabis to class C in 2003