Doctors urge legalising of cannabis

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The Independent Online
A GROUP of doctors who specialise in public health are calling for cannabis to be legalised for medicinal and recreational use.

The group has tabled a motion for debate at the British Medical Association's annual conference next month calling for a change in the law to help curb the spread of hard drugs.

The doctors are members of the Scottish committee for public health medicine and community health, and they argue that classifying cannabis alongside heroin and cocaine gives young people the idea that taking hard drugs is no more dangerous than smoking a joint.

Their motion, that the BMA should "support the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use", was put before the BMA's public health conference by the committee earlier this month but was defeated.

George Venters, the committee chairman, said: "I think more than half the population would support legalisation if you laid out the evidence." The BMA supports research into the development of the active ingredients of cannabis for medical use but does not back smoking of the raw drug to relieve pain as experts say it contains too many contaminants.

A spokeswoman for the BMA said: "The Board of Science looked at the issue of recreational use last year and decided that the issue of legalisation was outside their remit."

Dr Brian Potter, Scottish secretary of the BMA, said: "What [the committee is] trying to say is that there are other dangerous drugs which are legalised and cause a lot more deaths. Certainly in Scotland, 35 people a day die from tobacco use. Maybe we should be focusing on that rather than putting our energies on cannabis."