Cannabis may be made legal for medical use

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CANNABIS could be cleared for medical treatment within two years for victims of multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and other chronic illnesses which may be helped by the drug, after a "very positive meeting" between the BMA and the Chief Medical Officer for health, Sir Kenneth Calman, writes Colin Brown, Chief Political Correspondent.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, who met Sir Kenneth last week, told The Independent last night the CMO had given the go-ahead for speeding up the research to enable synthetic forms of the drug to be made available in about two years.

"The CMO indicated that the government is very much in favour of what we are doing and the need for research to be developed for cabannoids for different medical conditions."

Dr Nathanson said there were already available a number of forms of cannabis in synthetic form and research protocols could now be designed with a small number of people to move swiftly from the research stage to treatment.

Patients will not be allowed the drug in its raw form, but it could mark a breakthrough in the Government's implacable opposition to the legalisation of soft drugs.

Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, yesterday rejected calls for a Royal Commission on the legalisation of cannabis by MPs including the Tory MP David Prior, who admitting using the drug for some years in his 20s, in a survey by LWT's Jonathan Dimbleby programme. It found one in five of the 81 new MPs had tried illegal drugs.