Patients want cannabis legalised

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

PEOPLE suffering from a disabling disease have got together to launch a campaign to legalise cannabis for medical use because they say it alleviates their symptoms, writes Mark Handscomb.

About 30 men and women with multiple sclerosis say cannabis can help relieve cramp and give them improved bladder control. They say orthodox drugs fail to relieve the symptoms and have unpleasant side effects.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 cannabis cannot be used as a medicine. The group argues that this is illogical since heroin and cocaine can both be prescribed.

A former teacher whose wife has MS and takes cannabis said: 'I want to see cannabis taken seriously so that scientific trials can be set up to verify the growing catalogue of anecdotal evidence that it works.'

There is evidence that doctors also believe cannabis can be useful, for instance in alleviating the nausea caused by chemotherapy for cancer patients, he said.

The group has decided to affiliate with the American pressure group the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, which has campaigned for 15 years for cannabis to be used in medicine.

John Walford, general secretary of the Multiple Sclerosis Society in Britain, said: 'We do not recommend marijuana. It can be helpful as a relaxant but other substances do equally well and have fewer side effects. However, if some reputable research department thought a clinical trial was needed they could apply to the society's medical panel for support.'