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Reigate MP Crispin Blunt calls for medicinal cannabis rethink

By Surrey Mirror  |  Posted: August 24, 2014

By Joshua Searle joshua.searle@surreymirror.co.uk

  • CHANGE: Clifford Lee insists medicinal cannabis improves his quality of life REKS20141908A-028_C Photo by Kevin Shaw

  • 'ABSURD': Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, has supported calls for a review into marijuana's medicinal uses

Comments (1)

REIGATE MP Crispin Blunt has supported calls for a review into medicinal marijuana, labelling the current situation "absurd".

Mr Blunt's intervention comes after a letter was sent last week to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, by Minister for Crime Prevention Norman Baker, calling for a review into the Government's policy on the drug.

Marijuana is a controlled substance, but manufacturers can develop cannabis-based medicines under licence from the Home Office.

For example, Sativex, which contains the drug, is authorised for use in the UK for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Mr Baker, a Liberal Democrat, wrote: "I have seen more and more evidence that cannabis can provide genuine medical benefits to treat a number of conditions.

"There is a growing body of research that shows the medical properties of chemical components of cannabis. We should seriously consider whether it is valuable to treat conditions such as MS, glaucoma, chronic and neurogenic pain and the side effects from chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS treatments.

"I am uncomfortable that there are credible people I have met who tell me that cannabis is the only substance that helps relieve their condition, but not only are they stopped from accessing it officially but have to break the law to help their health.

"Other countries recognise that cannabis does have medicinal benefit and we need to look again at this to help people who are ill. This is a quite separate matter from the recreational use of cannabis which is not at issue here."

Following a letter from constituent Clifford Lee and Mr Baker's plea, Crispin Blunt has also implored the Government to seriously consider a revision of its medicinal marijuana policy.

In a statement he criticised the Government for its refusal to engage with the issue from an evidence-led perspective and added: "Sativex, the first cannabis derivative available in the UK, has been shown to reduce MS spasticity by up to 30 per cent in three quarters of patients. Nevertheless it is only accessible, as my constituents have found to their expense, via a frankly byzantine prescription process.

"However, it is not accessible at all for spasticity due to stroke, which is completely absurd as it has been found to work in a similar way to spasticity from MS in the USA. I have a constituent who continues to suffer from this stupidity, on whose behalf I want this fixed."

But the Home Office has already ruled out any chance of revising the regulations.

Emma Tilley, spokeswoman for the Home Office, said: "This Government has no plans to legalise cannabis or to soften our approach to its use as a medicine.

"There is clear scientific and medical evidence that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people's mental and physical health. There has been a long-term downward trend in drug use over the last decade.

"Drug-related deaths in England and Wales have continued to fall during the past three years and people going into treatment today are more likely to free themselves from dependency than ever before."

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  • PoetPeter  |  August 24 2014, 2:54PM

    The British people have been systematically misled and deceived about cannabis for nearly 100 years. If we introduced a legally regulated system we would solve nearly all the problems around cannabis. We'd have no more illegal and dangerous cannabis farms destroying property and causing fires. Instead we'd have thousands of new jobs. We'd have no more dealers on the streets. Cannabis would be available to adults only through licensed outlets and we'd have some control over the THC and CBD content. The truth is that the impact of cannabis on mental health and all aspects of our health services is infinitesimally small. That's not to say it is harmless but peanut allergy causes more health harms. The facts of hospital admissions and the numbers in treatment show that cannabis is a trivial cause of problems and irrelevant in public health terms. Not only are the harms of cannabis far less than tobacco, alcohol, all POM and OTC medicines but scientists now recognise that for most adults, in moderation, it's actually good for you. Cannabis is a natural supplement to our endocannabinoid system and helps to protect against autoimmune condiutions such as diabetes and cancer. It is also neuroprotective and promotes neurogenesisn which is why it is useful for the treatment of brain injury, stroke, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. In fact, the US government holds a patent for the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of such conditions. If we introduced a legally regulated system we would solve nearly all the problems around cannabis. We'd have no more illegal and dangerous cannabis farms destroying property and causing fires. Instead we'd have thousands of new jobs. We'd have no more dealers on the streets. Cannabis would be available to adults only through licensed outlets and we'd have some control over the THC and CBD content. CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform published independent, expert research in 2011 which shows that a tax and regulate policy on cannabis would produce a net gain to the UK economy of up to £9.3 billion per annum. The rest of the word is leaving Britain behind and taking advantage of the huge financial and health benefits of cannabis. It is a scandal that our government, our judges, our courts, our police and our newspapers keep misleading us.

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