Davey: Government must look at evidence on medicinal use of cannabis

The Government’s refusal to grant a licence for the medicinal use of cannabis to 6 year old Alfie Dingley has been in the news this week. His mother says that when he was given the drug in the Netherlands, under the supervision of paediatricians there, his Epilepsy improved.

Ed Davey called on the Government to look at the evidence and listening to those who know what they are talking about.

The government’s refusal to consider allowing the use of cannabis for medicinal purpose is criminalising people who simply need to alleviate chronic pain.

A growing number of our European neighbours and other countries around the world now recognise the benefits of medicinal cannabis.

The government must put aside their preconceptions on this issue, and instead start looking at the evidence and listening to the views of patients and experts.

This afternoon, Ed was able to extract a promise from the Minster to meet campaign groups:

The whole House will welcome the fact that the Minister has agreed to meet the family of Alfie Dingley. Will he also agree to meet the campaign group, End Our Pain, which is campaigning to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis when it would help their patients? End Our Pain wants to present to the Minister the evidence that honourable colleagues have talked about and discuss the fact that the Multiple Sclerosis Society has changed its position on the use of medicinal cannabis, based on the evidence.

The Minister replied:

I am certainly happy to meet that group, or a more appropriate Minister could, so the answer is yes.

Christine Jardine highlighted differences between what the Tories are saying north and south of the border:

The Minister has heard support from those of us on these Benches, but does he not support the views of his colleagues in the Scottish Parliament, where the health spokesman Miles Briggs said:

“it is time for a comprehensive, UK wide review…and for Parliament to look to reform access to cannabis for medical and scientific purposes”?

Does he recognise that there is widespread support in all parties?

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  • When I was at university the evidence showed that cannabis was linked to psychological harm. As far as I know the arguments for taking this step (and stretching if further to legalisation) include alleviating pain, comparing to the accepted use of alcohol as an equally if not more dangerous substance, the increased safety of regulating it, the tax benefits….I don’t often hear evidence that there isn’t psychological risk, and treating it as a Pandora’s box where we have let alcohol out and therefore cannabis should follow shouldn’t cut it. Let the evidence lead us and in the meantime we can chose not to prosecute those able to show medicinal use only.

  • OnceALibDem 20th Feb '18 - 8:54pm

    Whatever your views on the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use there doesn’t seen any justification for extending that blanket prohibition to use to treat disease/medical conditions under medical control.

  • @DJ it’s not acceptable that people just have to hope they are not prosecuted for their legitimate medicinal use of cannabis. The medical profession needs to be allowed to produce a clinical grade product with known qualities that can be reliably prescribed for appropriate conditions without fear of a criminal conviction. You seem to be suggesting that MS patients, amongst others, continue to seek out criminal drug dealers and hope that they get the product they want, which isn’t stronger than last time, or a more dangerous variety, or cut with a seriously hazardous bulking agent.

    It’s worth noting that many potential treatments based on cannabis don’t include the component that gets you high, or the component associated with psychosis. GPs and medical professionals should be allowed to prescribe cannabis based medicines if they see fit, same as they currently prescribe medicines that are variations of heroin and cocaine without threats of prison.

    As for psychological harm for general users, the current evidence is leaning towards some varieties being more problematic than others, but unfortunately street dealers don’t really care. More to the point, the current system isn’t protecting vulnerable people from the negative effects of cannabis use. There is no zero harm option available to us, but anyone campaigning for the status quo means accepting a higher than necessary level of harm.

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