A cross party group of MPs says there is clear evidence that cannabis is a beneficial medicine and that it helps alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain, spasticity, nausea, vomiting and anxiety. They also say it can help with sleep disorders, suppressed appetite, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder and Parkinson’s disease.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform took evidence from 623 patients, representatives of the medical professions and people with knowledge of how medical cannabis was regulated across the world. They say there is clear evidence cannabis can have a therapeutic role for some conditions
They also say tens of thousands of people in the UK already break the law to use the drug for symptom relief.
The group wants the Home Office to reclassify herbal cannabis under existing drug laws, from Schedule One to Schedule Four.
This would put it in the same category as steroids and sedatives and mean doctors could prescribe cannabis to patients, and chemists could dispense it.
Patients might even be allowed to grow limited amounts of cannabis for their own consumption.
The evidence and the law
Under the current laws in England and Wales, cannabis is not recognised as having any therapeutic value and anyone using the drug, even for medical reasons, could be charged for possession.
Co-chair Baroness Molly Meacher said: “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.”
The group commissioned a report by an expert in rehabilitation medicine, Prof Mike Barnes.
Prof 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.”
20 years ago medical marijuana patients were being busted, charged and dragged before the courts for possession or cultivation of cannabis. Increasingly these victims started to plead not guilty and elected to be tried before a jury in the crown court.
Patients would arrive in court in a wheelchair with a letter from a consultant confirming their diagnosis and a letter from their doctor recommending cannabis. Not surprisingly many were found not guilty.
The government’s response to this? They coldheartedly reclassified cannabis as a Schedule One drug, declaring it had no medicinal benefit. This meant that you could not run a medical defence in court no matter how much evidence you produced.
Today nothing has changed.
In response to this recent report a Home Office spokesman said: “There is a substantial body of scientific and medical evidence to show that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people’s mental and physical health.
There are no plans to legalise it.”
Meanwhile, if you want to carry out any research to prove anything to the contrary you need to get special permission from, guess who? The Home Office.
Will this report make any difference? In truth we have heard it all before, in 2006 the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, said that the present system of drug classification is based on historical assumptions, not scientific assessment. Nothing happened.
In February 2009 the UK government was accused by its most senior expert drugs adviser, Professor David Nutt, of making a political decision in rejecting scientific advice regarding drug classification. They sacked him.
A recent poll suggested the British public are supportive of a change in the law to make medical cannabis legal, with 68% in favour and only 12% opposed.
Freedom Seeds cannot incite, encourage or recommend that you break the law. However you could bang off an email to your local MP, referring them to their fellow MP’s report. You could also mention the amount of money to be saved by not pursuing cannabis patients and the amount to be collected in VAT, income tax, business rates etc. following legalisation. And don’t forget to mention that all this money is currently being collected by criminals, hardly a position to be defended by any responsible person.