Hypocrisy of UK drugs minister laid bare, as husband’s job comes under scrutiny

Other | Friday 9th March 2018 | Jake

As calls to legalise medicinal marijuana grow, drugs minister Victoria Atkins, staunchly opposed to reform, has been accused of hypocrisy, as her husband, Paul Kenward, is the managing director of British Sugar, a firm that farms cannabis to supply to GW Pharmaceuticals.

Legal reform is back in the limelight, following a license being refused to a mother seeking a cannabis oil to treat her six-year-old son with for his rare strain of epilepsy. Public opinion already backs legalisation, but reform seems unlikely as the British drugs minister, Atkins, opposes changes to the law concerning cannabis use.

 Victoria Atkins


However, Kenward’s company British Sugar has licence to grow cannabis on its 18 hectare Norfolk greenhouse space, previously used to grow tomatoes, according to The London Economic. Once they grow the plants they will be shipped off to GW in order for them to produce the medicine Sativex. Their complete monopoly of the medicinal marijuana market in England has allowed them to charge exorbitant fees for their product.

Back in 2017, Atkins said she didn’t “share the optimism of others about tackling the problem through regulation”, many will now share in doubting her impartiality when discussing the virtues of regulation. Undoubtedly the harvesting of marijuana has banked British Sugar a healthy sum, which can only be good news for the bank accounts in the Kenward & Atkins household.

 Paul Kenward 


A response by Atkins to the controversy was rubbished by cannabis reform pressure group Clear president Peter Reynolds. Atkins argued the cannabis her husband’s firm was growing was “…a very different substance [from the] psychoactive version of cannabis.”

Reynolds was unimpressed, pointing out that “the difference between different strains of cannabis is the same as the difference between different varieties of tomatoes. Whether they’re Ailsa Craig or Alicante, they’re all tomatoes.”

To read more on Atkins’ conflict of interest click here and to learn more about the struggle to legalise medicinal marijuana, read this.