Unless you have been living under a rock this week you will have seen that medical cannabis is getting a lot of mainstream media attention at the moment here in the UK.
So, why the sudden thrust into the media spotlight?
This is due to a new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform which over the past 7 months has analysed thousands of studies and come to the logical conclusion that Cannabis does indeed have medicinal value, and should be prescribed by GPs to the estimated one million people in the UK currently illegally using cannabis for pain relief.
You can read and download the full report here – it is 47 pages long, and is headed up by Caroline Lucas MP, Baroness Meacher, Professor Mike Barnes, and other cross-party MPs who believe medical cannabis should be available on prescription.
Baroness Meacher recently spoke to Volteface about the report, shedding further insight. Volteface reports: “Meacher is optimistic that a new report by Professor Mike Barnes might play a pivotal role in changing UK policy on medical cannabis use. Her eyes light up with enthusiasm as she discusses the findings. “It’s the most thorough, professional and objective report on research into medical cannabis across the world,” she asserts. “It doesn’t go over the top, but it shows without any doubt that cannabis is a medicine. The evidence is strong for the alleviation of chronic pain, neuropathic pain. It may help someone who’s had an amputation, or who has cancer, multiple sclerosis or arthritis. It can also be used for insomnia, nausea, appetite loss and even anxiety. There’s good evidence that it helps those people.” Read Medical Molly on Volteface
The End Our Pain campaign is also in full swing, which has resulted in a number of MPs publically stating that they believe medicinal cannabis should be legal in the UK. They are currently running a petition, which you can sign here.
Pretty much every mainstream news source has written about cannabis this week, with the articles overwhelmingly positive, progressive and logical:
Legalise medical marijuana, say MPs
A major inquiry led by a group of MPs and peers has concluded that cannabis should be legalised for medical purposes – The Independent
We must legalise access to medical cannabis as a matter of urgency
MPs urge Government to legalise medical cannabis in the UK
A report says it is irrational to claim cannabis has no medical value, and recommends the drug is made available on prescription. – Sky News
The United Patients Alliance are also a big part of the campaign. They presented the patient Survey above to No 10 Downing Street with Mike Barnes and Baroness Meacher.
From the UPA’s latest Press release: “United Patients Alliance gave evidence at a number of the APPG hearings and were tasked with running, administering and analysing a 600+ cohort Medical Cannabis Patient Survey comparing their experiences of prescription medications versus cannabis, along with preferred methods of consumption, strengths, sourcing and many other fascinating statistics.”
And lots, lots more.
With all this going on, how long until cannabis is legalised in the UK?
Well, sites like Herb.co are reporting that it looks set to happen any day now. We’re not so optimistic, and believe it is going to take some time – and some more campaigning – before we get there.
However, this report is finally a rebuff to the Government’s consistent claim that ‘cannabis has no medicinal benefits and has serious harm potential’. They can no longer use the excuse that ‘further studies are needed’ when the info needed to justify a more sensible cannabis policy is all contained in this comprehensive document.
With that in mind, I believe that we will start to see a move towards a pharmaceutically-controlled medicinal cannabis system here in the UK in the next few years, starting with a reduction from schedule 1, hopefully allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis.
But wait, isn’t Big Pharma a bad thing?!
While it is not as positive as the Government turning around and saying ‘we were wrong, cannabis will be legalised tomorrow’, the fact that they will need to backtrack to implement any kind of medicinal cannabis system in the UK will help shift public perception and people stop listening to the propaganda dreamed up back in the 1930s.
This public perception shift will help further our campaign for full cannabis legalisation in the near future. Over half of the country now backs legalising medicinal cannabis.
UKCSC reports : “A change in schedule would benefit all regardless. Yes, studies show this increases the time that legal recreational takes, and yes, this won’t cover all conditions, nor be like the US dispensaries. It will be, at best, a Bedrocan like product alongside GW pharmas catalogue of course… But it’s a start. And it will protect medical users from drug driving charges, allow those too scared, or unable, to break the law the ability to access cannabis. It will allow much better UK research. It will alter public opinion for the better. This is a good thing, but of course far from perfect.”
And where does that leave recreational users?
We have to look at it as two separate fights at the moment. The news this week has actually caused a bit of a stir amongst the cannabis community, as it is strictly medical, and would not cover the recreational use of cannabis.
However, as mentioned above I believe that this is a great first step towards full legalisation. As perception shifts, recreational users will be able to shake off the unproductive stoner stereotype.
As a recreational cannabis user, I recognise that there are millions of sick people in this country that would benefit from cannabis being legalised a whole lot more than I would. That’s why I’m happy to fight the medical fight as well as focusing on full legalisation.
To answer the question “How long until Cannabis is legalised in the UK?”, one would require a time machine, or at least the ability to see in the future. However, the future looks bright, the signs are positive and I am optimistic for the years to come!
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