Parliament should allow doctors to prescribe cannabis

Though in many US states this proved to be a prelude for broader legalisation, it should be considered on its own merits

Those responsible for the Government’s drug policies could not be accused of any exaggerated deference to the world of scientific papers, double-blind trials and laboratory-bound research. The Psychoactive Substances Bill – which outlaws anything likely to alter a user’s mindset – was described in the New Scientist as one of the “stupidest, most dangerous and unscientific pieces of legislation ever conceived”. It demonstrates Parliament moving in the opposite direction to the tonnage of evidence showing that draconian approaches to recreational drug use have failed. 

Where campaigners may find the forces of political suspicion less monolithic is in the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Though in many US states this proved to be a prelude for broader legalisation, it should be considered on its own merits, and not merely as the thin end of the wedge. Two recent scientific surveys, considering more than 100 randomised, placebo-controlled trials, showed that marijuana proved useful in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, anorexia, Lou Gehrig’s disease and epilepsy. It can reduce chronic pain levels by 30 per cent. To withhold a chemical that can benefit patients on the basis that it may be used recreationally is neither just nor logically consistent: morphine can be administered on the NHS in cases of extreme pain; why not allow cannabis to be used where the pain level may be lower but exposure to it has often lasted far longer?

On Wednesday the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Drug Law Reform launched an inquiry into medical cannabis. Thursday brings the launch of “End our Pain”, a campaign which calls for doctors to be allowed to prescribe cannabis. The APPG could reasonably cut to the chase and join in. Criminalising people who seek to reduce pain and suffering with cannabis is illogical, inhumane and thoroughly unscientific.

Comments