Parliament Drug debate: Plea for cannabis on prescription

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The Independent Online
A LABOUR backbencher will urge ministers today to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes.

Paul Flynn, the MP for Newport West, will argue that sufferers of illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, Aids and cancer should be able to use the drug to reduce pain.

While the Government had given permission for cannabis to undergo laboratory tests to see if it could be licensed as a medicine, research would take at least five years, he will say.

"The tens of thousands of multiple sclerosis, Aids and cancer sufferers should not have to wait that long for a natural medicine which has been used by millions of people for thousands of years. They want the medicine of their choice now so they can get pain relief, so that they can get a good night's sleep, or so they can stop feeling nauseous from the side- effects of chemotherapy."

Mr Flynn said cannabis was prescribed until 1973 "without difficulties", while heroin and cocaine can be legally prescribed. Doctors would be allowed to prescribe cannabis as an unlicensed medicine, but would have to state the amount and name the patient.

Mr Flynn's 10-minute rule Bill has little chance of becoming law. A Home Office spokesman said: "Patient safety remains the top priority. Cannabis should not be treated any differently to anything else which is reputed to have therapeutic properties and has to be put through proper licensing procedures."