Most UK MPs back legalisation of medical marijuana, poll finds. Or just get on with it……please!
More than half of MPs want to see the legalisation of medical marijuana, a survey has found. The polling, which follows parliamentary debates on the issue, found that 58 per cent of MPs backed the use of cannabis for people battling health conditions.
Those supporting the move include Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, and Dr Dan Poulter, a former health minister and Tory MP.
Just 27 per cent of MPs were opposed to legalisation for medical use, the survey found. The poll, conducted by Populus, surveyed a representative sample of 108 MPs, on behalf of VolteFace, a group campaigning for changes public policies on drugs.
It found 60 per cent of Labour MPs supported the use of cannabis for medical reasons, along with 55 per cent of Conservatives. Support from the Scottish National Party was most dramatic, with 88 per cent of MPs in support and none of those polled expressing any opposition.
In recent years, studies have increasingly supported the medical value of cannabis for treating conditions such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and arthritis, and for dealing with nerve pain. Currently neither the Conservative nor Labour Party officially supports legalising cannabis for medical use.
Both the Green Party and Liberal Democrats have called for legalisation for medical use for some time. An estimated one million people in the UK use cannabis for medical reasons, risking arrest and prosecution by buying cannabis from drug-dealers or growing it themselves.
Last night Mr Clegg said: “A majority of MPs get the compassionate case for medical cannabis. The UK is increasingly out of step with other countries on this issue. The government should listen to parliament and cannabis patients themselves and bring forward proposals for a change in the law.” Dr Poulter, who served as a health minister from September 2012 until the last election, said he gave full support to the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
“This is about ensuring the provision of better care and support for those living with chronic pain, long-term degenerative conditions and, in some cases, people being cared for at the end of their life,” he said.
“It is an unnecessary burden for people in pain to have the added pressure of not being able to access a treatment which could provide symptomatic relief, or to be criminalised if they try to do so.”
Last October MPs debated legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes, but it was rejected by justice ministers.
Use of cannabis for such purposes is now legal in 25 US states, and Germany also voted for the same.
Dr Poulter, a hospital doctor, said: “Many other European countries, not to mention several American states, have already woken up to the medicinal uses of cannabis and the UK Government should look more closely at the evidence and allow medicinal use of cannabis, via prescription, when it is in the best interests of patients.”
Medical cannabis differs from cannabis available on the black market in some respects. It has to be carefully produced to ensure it is of high quality and the chemical composition needs to remain consistent from batch to batch so that patients and doctors can have certainty about its effects. In 2014, NHS rationing bodies rejected the use of cannabis-derived medicines to treat MS, saying they were too costly to justify.
Sufferers say they have been left paying up to £500 a month to pay for Sativex, a treatment for pain and spams.
Peter Carroll, campaign spokesman, said: “The End Our Pain campaign is fighting hard to get enough MPs on side to get the law changed, and this poll gives us grounds for optimism. The result shows that Parliament shares our view that people who take cannabis for medical reasons are patients, not criminals.”