A Conservative MP who was famously tricked into condemning a made up drug called “Cake” has been put in charge of the Committee which will debate the Government’s new proposed drugs policy.
David Amess appeared on the satirical television programme Brass Eye in 1997 where he was filmed referring to Cake as “a big yellow death bullet”.
As a result of the encounter he asked ministers a real life question in Parliament about the made up drug.
It was announced this week that Mr Amess will chair the bill committee for the Government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill.
He will co-chair the committee with another MP, George Howarth. Their role will be to remain impartial and to ensure proper procedures are carried out and that contributions are in order.
The new bill seeks to ban the recreational use of legal highs, including laughing gas.
In the programme, 'Cake' was described as "a new legal drug from Czechoslovakia" - similar to those banned by the real-life 2015 bill.
Public bill committees scrutinise the passage of new laws and take evidence about their effects from external stakeholders.
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Having been reclassified in 2009 from a Class C to a Class B drug, cannabis is now the most used illegal drug within the United Kingdom. The UK is also, however, the only country where Sativex – a prescribed drug that helps to combat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis and contains some ingredients that are also found in cannabis - is licensed as a treatment
2/12 North Korea
Although many people believe the consumption of cannabis in North Korea to be legal, the official law regarding the drug has never been made entirely clear whilst under Kim Jong Un’s regime. However, it is said that the North Korean leader himself has openly said that he does not consider cannabis to be a drug and his regime doesn’t take any issue with the consumption or sale of the drug
MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images
In the Netherlands smoking cannabis is legal, given that it is smoked within the designated ‘smoking areas’ and you don’t possess more than 5 grams for personal use. It is also legal to sell the substance, but only in specified coffee shops
Although in some states of America cannabis has now been legalised, prior to the legalisation, police in the U.S. could make a marijuana-related arrest every 42 seconds, according to US News and World Report. The country also used to spend around $3.6 billion a year enforcing marijuana law, the American Civil Liberties Union notes
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Despite cannabis being officially illegal in Spain, the European hotspot has recently started to be branded, ‘the new Amsterdam’. This is because across Spain there are over 700 ‘Cannabis Clubs’ – these are considered legal venues to consume cannabis in because the consumption of the drug is in private, and not in public. These figures have risen dramatically in the last three years – in 2010 there were just 40 Cannabis Clubs in the whole of Spain. Recent figures also show that in Catalonia alone there are 165,000 registered members of cannabis clubs – this amounts to over 5 million euros (£4 million) in revenue each month
In December 2013, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill legalizing and regulating the production and sale of the drug. But the president has since postponed the legalization of cannabis until to 2015 and when it is made legal, it will be the authorities who will grow the cannabis that can be sold legally. Buyers must be 18 or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with the authorities
Despite the fact that laws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist and is considered a habit only entertained by lower-income groups, it is very rarely enforced. The occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild
In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs, and started treating drug users as sick people, instead of criminals. However, you can still be arrested or assigned mandatory rehab if you are caught several times in possession of drugs
9/12 Puerto Rico
Although the use of cannabis is currently illegal, it is said that Puerto Rico are in the process of decriminalising it
RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
The US state became the first in the country to legalise marijuana in January 2014. In February 2015, President Obama recently said he expects to see more states "looking into" legalisation. However, it is illegally to grow more than six cannabis plants and to possess more than 28 grams of the drug
Oaksterdam in Oakland, California, is the world's only university dedicated to the study and cultivation of cannabis. If you are court in California with anything up to an ounce of cannabis, you will be fine $100, but you will not get a criminal record, nor will you have to appear in court
Cannabis is grown in the wild and has been used to treat conditions such as gout and malaria. But, officially the substance is illegal to consume, possess and sell
The groups of MPs also debate amendments that can be made to new laws.
“Look at that, a £100,000 in the pocket of the filth that sells it. A big yellow death bullet in the head of some poor user – or custard gannet as the dealers call them,” Mr Amess sincerely told Brass Eye at the time.
Placing a comedy yellow piece of cake provided by producers on a table near him, he added:
“I’m off to do what I can – and if you don’t mind, I’ll leave this with you. I don’t want to look at it for another moment.”
A number of celebrities were filmed endorsing a war on Cake. Producers told viewers that a group called F.U.K.D. and B.O.M.B.D. - Free the United Kingdom from Drugs and British Opposition to Metabolically Bisturbile Drugs - wanted the substance banned.
Mr Amess was widely ridiculed for falling prey to the stunt when the television programme aired.
When he asked ministers about the drug in Parliament they incorrectly assumed he was referring to a drug called Methylenedioxybenzylamphetamine, a lesser-known psychedelic drug.
Brass Eye was a surreal Channel 4 comedy show created by comedian Chris Morris.
The series satirised moral panics and sensationalism, including, in the episode in question, 'tough on drugs' rhetoric.
* Update - 8/12/15
Sir David Amess MP has contacted The Independent and asked us to publish the following response to this article:
I was deeply disappointed when the article was brought to my attention on Thursday 22 October 2015. It is a travesty of the situation. As the Chairman of the Bill Committee on Psychoactive Drugs I am completely impartial/neutral to any points made.
My job is to chair the Bill to ensure that proper procedures are carried out and that contributions are in order. To sensationally muddy this with a Brass Eye event of some years ago is a disgrace.
The Brass Eye episode followed me having been tricked into giving an interview on the back of the death of a constituent, Leah Betts, having taken ecstasy.
I then pursued the matter and apologies were issued by all concerned, none of which is contained in the article, which I find misleading and dishonest.
Sir David Amess MP