There has been a lot of publicity this week surrounding the prosecution of a cancer patient who, in conjunction with others suffering either from cancer or multiple sclerosis, had set up what was described as a “cannabis plantation” for pain relief. This followed closely on the heels of a new Bill before parliament which if it became law would allow the “production, supply, possession and use of cannabis and cannabis resin for medicinal purposes”.
The Legalisation of Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes) Bill 2017-19 is sponsored by Paul Flynn MP. In an impassioned speech, Mr Flynn said “the tide of world opinion is moving in a direction of legalising cannabis. There are 29 states in America – the majority of them – that have already legalised medical cannabis without any problems arising.
“There are six or seven states in Europe where it’s possible to use cannabis medicinally but we’ve forgotten that this is the oldest medicine in the world – it’s been used for 5,000 years at least.”
Mr Flynn highlighted the fact that cannabis “was used as a medicine until 1973 in this country.”
In terms of more general concerns for public health, he said: “if we do legalise drugs we reduce the side-effects by taking the market out of the hands of the criminals and the scammers and put it into a legal market that can be run by doctors on medical priorities.”
Whilst nobody spoke against Mr Flynn’s Bill, which was introduced under the ten minute rule, it is unlikely to become law unless it receives the support of the government.
In Denmark, from January 2018 cannabis is due to be legalised for medicinal use for a trial period of four years and with medicinal cannabis now legal in large parts of the US, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa, Poland and Spain, among others, it seems that the UK is certainly bucking the trend.