When Theresa May became the British Prime Minister, her pick for Home Office Undersecretary of State was Victoria Atkins, a former prosecutor who specialized in jailing drug users, and who was on record for her uncompromising, evidence-ignoring stance on any form of drugs legalization.
Atkins is a natural pick for May: after all, it was May who fired the UK Drugs Czar David Nutt when he refused to lie and say that marijuana was more dangerous than alcohol. May never met a prohibition she didn’t like, and never saw a reason to spare even the most benign drugs user a long spell in prison.
But as much as Atkins has an official, on-record position that marijuana should never be legalized under any circumstances, she’s happy to remain married to Paul Kenward, Managing Director of British Sugar, which is a major licensed cultivator of medical marijuana (Atkins and her party oppose medical marijuana).
Theresa May’s government insists that this isn’t a problem, because Atkins declared the conflict when she took the job, and has “voluntarily recused herself from policy or decisions relating to cannabis, including licensing.”
Peter Reynolds, the president of Clear, which campaigns for cannabis law reform said this was not just a case of a conflict of interest, but “hypocrisy on a grand scale.”
He told the BBC: “The reason she was appointed is Theresa May was looking for someone who was a hardline prohibitionist. The Tory party’s policy on drugs – cannabis in particular – is directly opposed to the evidence, and Victoria Atkins is someone who supports that.
“But, what is appalling is she doesn’t just want to support it for policy reasons, quite evidently, she wants to support it because her husband and family are directly benefiting from [the regulation of] it.”