Drugs minister’s husband runs cannabis farm: Tory Victoria Atkins steps down from parts of her brief as it emerges her partner runs 23-acre site growing medicinal marijuana
- Drugs minister Victoria Atkins MP ‘voluntarily’ stopped cannabis speeches
- The MP for Louth and Horncastle has opposed the legalisation of the drug
- Her spouse Paul Kenward is at the head of cannabis growing firm British Sugar
- Legalisation campaigners have accused her of a ‘ridiculous conflict of interests’
Victoria Atkins has been accused of a conflict of interests over her husband’s business
The Government’s drugs minister stopped addressing the public on the issue of cannabis after it emerged her husband’s business is farming the drug by the acre.
Victoria Atkins was tonight accused of a ‘ridiculous conflict of interests’ over her spouse Paul Kenward’s role as managing director of British Sugar.
British Sugar was granted a Home Office licence to grow cannabis to be used in medicine on a huge 23-acre site in Wissington, Norfolk, in 2016.
The British legally grown crops will eventually be used for epilepsy drug epidiolex in the US, after being developed by the UK company GW Pharmaceuticals.
However, Ms Atkins MP for Louth and Horncastle opposes cannabis law reforms and has spoken out against the class B drug.
The Home Office said the minster had ‘voluntarily recused herself from policy or decisions relating to cannabis’ according to The Times.
However, campaigners fighting for the legalisation of the drug in the UK have insisted she has not stopped speaking about the issue and claimed she should stand down from the role altogether.
Peter Reynolds, president of Clear, told MailOnline: ‘Obviously it is a ridiculous conflict of interests.
British Sugar grows cannabis to be used in epilepsy medicine in the US. It is farmed in Norfolk on a huge legal site after a licence was granted in 2016
‘Since November 2017 there are a dozen instances of her speaking about cannabis.
‘She should not have been appointed as a Home Office minister. I am sure she is a very able woman but this is a clear conflict of interests.
‘She has an extreme view, she talks about it being an extremely dangerous drug that causes misery in communities and says that it has no medicinal value.
‘She is a hard-line prohibitionist.’
Mr Kenward’s role is not registered in the minister’s list of interests, despite rules which state if a close family member has an influential role which relates to the minister’s post, it should be declared.
Now it is being suggested the minister will not talk about cannabis, campaigners have questioned her role.
Paul Kenward is the managing director of British Sugar which is growing cannabis for medicinal use in the US
A bill on cannabis reform was narrowly avoided in the House of Commons earlier this year.
Labour MP Paul Flynn attempted to have the issue of medicinal drug use debated in parliament but alleged ‘filibustering’ from his own Labour Party meant there was no time for the debate.
Steve Moore, of Volteface, a think-tank on drug policy, told The Times: ‘The medical use of cannabis and its wider decriminalisation is rising up the political agenda. But we have the ridiculous situation of the drugs minister being unable to speak in parliament or make decisions on one of the most important parts of her job.’
Instead, Nick Hurd, the policing and fire minister has been with answering questions on drugs.
Victoria Atkins MP has been asked to comment.
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