MPs press for end to ban on cannabis lifted

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Pressure mounted on the Government yesterday to speed up proposals for the legalisation of cannabis for medical use.

Pressure mounted on the Government yesterday to speed up proposals for the legalisation of cannabis for medical use.

A cross-party group of 34 MPs signed an early day motion that "deplored" the continuing criminalisation of the soft drug. They demanded that doctors be allowed to prescribe it to people suffering from chronic pain caused by multiple sclerosis, Aids and the side-effects of chemotherapy.

The change, recommended by a House of Lords science select committee, could be brought about through a "simple change" in the law, the MPs added.

Mo Mowlam, the Cabinet Office Minister, has already indicated that the Government is planning to bring forward relaxation of the rules. She has told MPs: "We are looking at this. We've got scientific research which is very close to completion. There is also room for discussion and debate."

In all, 22 Labour, five Liberal Democrat and four Tory MPs, plus one each from the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru, and the Independent MP for Tatton, Martin Bell, signed the motion. Among them was the Labour backbencher Paul Flynn (Newport West), a veteran campaigner on the subject.

The motion read: "That this House deplores the continuing criminalisation of thousands of otherwise law-abiding people who use cannabis medicinally to relieve chronic pain and distress caused by multiple sclerosis, Aids and the side-effects of chemotherapy; and supports the simple change in the law recommended by the House of Lords Select Committee on Science to allow a limited number of doctors to prescribe cannabis to named patients in the same way that millions of other prescriptions are now dispensed."

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