Legalise medical marijuana, say MPs

A major inquiry led by a group of MPs and peers has concluded that cannabis should be legalised for medical purposes

Tom Peck
Tuesday 13 September 2016 17:02 BST
Cannabis is being increasingly used around the world to make medical treatments
Cannabis is being increasingly used around the world to make medical treatments

Cannabis should be legalised in the UK for medical use, according to a major inquiry by MPs and peers.

A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Reform has concluded that the current refusal to recognise the medical value of cannabis is “irrational”, and called for an end to the de facto criminalisation of hundreds of thousands of people who use the drug to relieve pain.

Cross bench peer Lady Meacher, who chairs the group, said: “The findings of our inquiry and review of evidence from across the world are clear. Cannabis works as a medicine for a number of medical conditions. The evidence has been strong enough to persuade a growing number of countries and US states to legalise access to medical cannabis.

“Against this background, the UK scheduling of cannabis as a substance that has no medical value is irrational.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who co-chairs the group that led the inquiry, said: “Many hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are already taking cannabis for primarily medical reasons. It is totally unacceptable that they should face the added stress of having to break the law to access their medicine.

“This a matter of compassion and human rights. The Government should have the political courage to view the issue of medical cannabis separately from any wider drugs reform and act urgently.”

The inquiry head evidence from 623 patients, representatives of the medical professions and people who have led the legal regulation of medical cannabis in other countries.

The group commissioned neurologist Professor Mike Barnes to review evidence.

Professor Barnes’ report concludes that there is good evidence that medical cannabis helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain, spasticity – often associated with multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting, particularly in the context of chemotherapy – and in the management of anxiety.

Professor Barnes said: “We analysed over 20,000 scientific and medical reports. The results are clear. Cannabis has a medical benefit for a wide range of conditions.

“I believe that with greater research, it has the potential to help with an even greater number of conditions. But this research is being stifled by the Government’s current classification of cannabis as having no medical benefit.”

A recent Populus survey pro-medical cannabis campaign group End Our Pain, found that 68 per cent of people supported doctors being allowed to prescribe cannabis.

End Our Pain campaign director Peter Carroll said: “We estimate that over one million people in the UK take cannabis for medical reasons. All these people are at risk of police and court action.

“The poll shows that the British public understand that these people are patients, not criminals. We urge the Government to respond positively to the results of this poll, to today’s parliamentary report, and the review of global evidence published alongside it.”

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