Preston Cannabis Club takes Home Secretary to High Court

Preston Cannabis Club is taking the Home Secretary back to court as part of our fight to legalise the Cannabis market in the UK. For over 18 months we have been attempting to become the first UK licensed Cannabis Dispensary. Although failure may seem inevitable to most, we are supremely confident of a historic break through.

Home Secretary; Amber Rudd

PCC-Amber-Rudd-cannabis-licence

12 months ago, we started a judicial challenge of the decision of the Home Secretary to refuse to allow us to apply for a licence. When we first submitted our licence application request through the Home Office website back in 2016, we were told that the Home Office  policies would not allow for the licencing of Cannabis for personal consumption.

It has been our view from the very beginning that, unlike driving or firearms licencing for example, there are no statutory policies or regulations in place that restrict licencing for drugs. In effect there is nothing that says you cannot have a licence for personal use of Cannabis.

Zero Regulation

So we then made a number of strong representations to the Home Office making it clear that we objected to their view entirely and made repeat requests for them to identify the policies they claimed restricted the granting of drugs licences. The responses we got were a complete misrepresentation of the law; stating that cannabis can only be grown for ‘Hemp’. We asked the Home Secretary to specifically identify the policy, rule, regulation or statute under which she was claiming to have the authority to refuse our licence application.

It was not until the Home Secretary was brought into court that she answered our questions in the form of a defence statement. In that defence statement, the Home Secretary stated the following:

“There are no regulations, statutes or policies that restrict the granting of licensing. The decision as to whether to grant a licence is entirely at the discretion of the Home Secretary”

As we had argued from the outset; there is ZERO regulation in place that prevents the Home Secretary from issuing a Home Office licence for anything to do with Cannabis.

But what about Hemp?

You may have heard a story about how you can grow Cannabis for Hemp as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC. This is completely false. The restrictions in place for the cultivation of Cannabis for Hemp comes from EU agricultural Policy NOT Home Office drugs policy! There is no mention of THC content in relation to cultivation of Cannabis. As the Home Secretary has stated, there is zero regulation and that includes for Hemp!!

The Home Secretary went on to say:

“Each licence application is dealt with entirely on its own merit and decision as to whether or not to grant a licence is entirely at the discretion of the Home Secretary”

So every licence granted by the Home Secretary is done entirely in exercising the use of a discretionary power. There is NO home Office policy in place that orders or directs how this power is to be exercised. So, the decision as to whether we get a licence is purely at the discretion of Amber Rudd!?!

Is discretion really the better part of valor?

Under our Constitutional Arrangements, any decision taken by a public authority, such as the Secretary of State for the Home Department, must be legal, reasonable and rational. If the decision fails in one of these areas then it is subject to a Judicial Review in the High Court. Because we have seen no policy, regulation or statute that expressly states we cannot have a licence, we feel the Home Secretary is acting unlawfully by refusing to even allow us to apply for a licence.

Even though the Home Office are refusing to allow us to submit a licence application, the Home Secretary went on to say:

“Preston Cannabis Club has not been refused a licence and no substantive decision has been made on [their] application. It is open to them to make a further application if they wish”

Well, apply again we did! On more than one occasion! The response has always been the same; that because there is no policy they cannot issue a licence!!

Judicial Review

Under a Judicial Review, we are hoping to compel her to accept and take proper consideration of our licence application. It has always been our belief that because we have put together such a comprehensive proposal for our licence that she will have no grounds to refuse.

So we first filed for a Judicial Review in December 2016. This was quickly rejected by HHJ Gilbart and was ordered to have ‘no merit’.

Mike, our founder,  was unfortunately sentenced to a term of imprisonment in June 2017 after being caught growing Cannabis at his home. It wasn’t until he was in prison that the High Court dealt with this case. It was rejected on the same grounds. The Home Office applied for a Civil Restraining Order in an attempt to prevent Mr Dobson bringing anymore similar claims. The Court refused to grant this and Mr Dobson is still at liberty to file another claim should that be necessary.

Once he received the refusal papers, whilst in prison, Mike set about the next phase of his challenge; an appeal to the Civil Appeal Court in London. This application for an appeal was drafted from inside his prison cell.

The appeal was lodged in August 2017. In September 2017, the case was reviewed by the High Court case lawyers and put on a list to be seen by a Lord Justice of Appeal. And that is where it still is to this day!!

We have been informed  by the court admin staff that we will have a hearing within 6 months so that means we should know by the end of March. This will be our opportunity to put our case across in open court. When Mike is successful, and he will be, it will mean the Home Office will then HAVE to deal with our licence application.

 

What next?

If we are successful with this appeal it would still mean we have to go back to the original Judicial Review. We feel this would be a ground breaking moment with a high possibility of success. The outcome is not guaranteed but from what we understand, if an Appeal Court Judge gives you permission to proceed his is given a nod that the case does have merit and needs a judicial decision making. Mike believes that once this happened the Home Office will have to concede and allow him and us to submit a full licence application.

With our Approved Licenced Supplier, CannaBliss®, also named in the case, this could mean we could have production starting before the end of the year!! That is what we are all praying for!

 

We need your help!!

If you would like to see Cannabis legalized in the UK then please support PCC

PCC is a non profit organization and exists solely though the kind donations of members of the public and its members. Please help us with our fight against the Home Office by making a small donation to help cover travel and other expenses

If you would like to know more about becoming an interested party to the case, please contact us via our online form.

Visit our donation page here

Categories: Main News

1 Comment

Peter Reynolds · 8th March 2018 at 10:52 am

A very well written article which clearly explains the process behind this effort. I really believe that it is through legitimate means such as this and the exploitation of loopholes such as ‘exempt products’ that we will force reform.

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