Jeff Smith, who represents Manchester Withington, was flown to Seattle to learn about how cannabis has been made legal in Washington State
A Labour MP took a week out of the local elections campaign to go on a drug legalisation junket to the United States paid for by cannabis firms, it can be revealed.
Jeff Smith, who represents Manchester Withington, was flown to Seattle to learn about how cannabis has been made legal in Washington State.
The £4,199 cost of the trip for Mr Smith and a staff member was picked up by Botanica Seattle, which produces foods made with cannabis, and Privateer Holdings, a private equity firm specialising in the legal cannabis industry.
Mr Smith, a former DJ who has previously admitted taking drugs, went on the transatlantic jaunt from April 9 to 15, which was during the Easter recess but just three weeks before the local elections.
When launching Labour’s local election campaign in Manchester a fortnight earlier, Mr Smith had pledged to knock on as many doors as he could before polling day.
It came as figures showed that the number of people taken to hospital with cannabis-related health problems has soared. There were 27,501 admissions linked to cannabis in England in 2016/17 – a 15 per cent rise in just two years.
Mr Smith worked as a DJ in Manchester nightclubs and at festivals during the 1990s and early 2000s before moving into politics. Last year, he admitted to drug use, telling the Manchester Evening News: ‘Like many people my age I’ve taken drugs in the past, and I’ve spent a lot of time around people who have regularly used recreational drugs.’
In his maiden speech in 2015, Mr Smith said he would use his time in the Commons to ‘fight for reform of our discredited and ineffective drug laws’.
Mr Smith said last night: ‘As a chairman of the all-party group on drug policy reform, I believe it is important for politicians to learn from legislative changes on this serious issue.’
Figures showed that the number of people taken to hospital with cannabis-related health problems has soared. There were 27,501 admissions linked to cannabis in England in 2016/17