Should cannabis be legalised in UK for medicinal use?
YES Professor David Nutt FORMER GOVERNMENT ADVISER
CANNABIS was a medicine in the UK until 1971 when the Government succumbed to a decade of pressure from the USA to follow its lead and eliminate it from medicine.
This was based on political, not health considerations and was aimed to stop recreational use, an ambition that failed spectacularly as in the subsequent 20 years the number of recreational cannabis users increased 20-fold. But patients were denied a proven medicine.
The American Academy of Science last year published a comprehensive report revealing the medicinal value of cannabis across a range of diseases including cancer and AIDS, PTSD and addictions, cardiovascular and gut diseases. At least 17 countries other than America have medical cannabis at present, including Holland and Spain.
For the UK, once a world-leading country in healthcare, to deny the value of medical cannabis is a sad reflection on how much political polemic has distorted rational thinking. For the sake of the millions of patients who will benefit from medical cannabis, we must change the law now.
NO Kevin A. Sabet FORMER WHITE HOUSE DRUG POLICY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
IMAGINE if someone grew opium poppies in their garden and told you to smoke it to get the effects of morphine, which is an extract of the plant. That is what is happening with the movement to legitimise medical cannabis.
Yes, the cannabis plant has medical properties but the idea of inhaling or eating raw, crude cannabis in the form of a spliff or chocolate bar is anything but scientific.
That is why it is hardly surprising that the vast majority of US medical marijuana cardholders are people with headaches or backaches – not cancer or AIDS – and most of them have a drug problem. The movement to legitimise raw marijuana as medicine – and bypass the scientific process ensuring safety and efficacy of a specific medication – is not only a front to legalise drugs, it is putting patients at risk.
Today’s high-potent cannabis greatly increases the risk of mental illness. If cannabis shows itself to have medicinal properties, so be it. Let’s develop proper medications and regulate them under the advice of a physician. But don’t call your daily toke ‘medicine’ – it is anything but.