Victoria Atkins, the British drugs minister, has stopped speaking about cannabis on behalf of the government. This decision follows the discovery that her husband, Paul Kenward, is running England's largest cannabis farm.
Kenward is currently the managing director of British Sugar, which is producing cannabis bound for use in the production of epidiolex, an epilepsy medication. Additionally, British Sugar hold a rare 'high-THC' license, which permits producers to cultivate cannabis with a THC level of over 0.2%. And while British Sugar received their licenses before Atkins became drugs minister in 2017, some people are seeing this as a major issue.
Peter Reynolds, president of Clear, the campaign for cannabis law reform, called Atkins situation a serious conflict of interest.
"Victoria Atkins is in a ridiculously vulnerable position and has a massive conflict of interest."
Since the conflict of interest claims have come out Atkins has ceased to speak on cannabis on behalf of the government says the Home Office, the department of which she is minister.
"The minister voluntarily recused herself from policy or decisions relating to cannabis, including licensing."
While the potential conflicts of interest are of course serious political issues, Steve Moore of Volteface, a think-tank on drug policy, believes the real problem here is having a drugs minister who cannot fulfill the entirety of the job in the face of changing cannabis laws in the UK.
"The medical use of cannabis and its wider decriminalization 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."