Nurses back med­i­cal cannabis move af­ter speech by NI del­e­gate

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY MICHAEL McHUGH

THE Royal Col­lege of Nurs­ing (RCN) has voted to support the de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of cannabis for med­i­cal use af­ter a plea from a North­ern Ire­land-based mem­ber.

Kathryn Gault told the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s congress in Belfast: “There is strong enough ev­i­dence to support the use of cannabis to treat pain. It would not be a re­cre­ational drug for me — it would add qual­ity to my life.”

Mrs Gault, who has an un­der­ly­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion, said she risked devel­op­ing pain which could not be treated by the NHS.

The RCN will now lobby gov­ern­ments across the UK af­ter the res­o­lu­tion was passed.

Cen­tral government’s po­si­tion is that, as a Class B drug, cannabis is sub­ject to strict re­stric­tions and can­not be pre­scribed, ad­min­is­tered or supplied to the pub­lic.

The RCN res­o­lu­tion was pro­posed by the Suf­folk branch and en­dorsed by mem­bers of the gen­eral meet­ing.

RCN chief ex­ec­u­tive Janet Davies said: “The ev­i­dence is

Plea: Kathryn Gault

quite com­pelling on what peo­ple are do­ing them­selves. These are peo­ple who want to try some­thing be­cause they are suf­fer­ing.”

Over 40 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Italy, Fin­land, Australia, Canada, Switzer­land, Ger­many and half of the United States have de­crim­i­nalised cannabis in some form.

Tinc­ture of cannabis was medic­i­nally avail­able in the UK un­til im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Mis­use of Drugs Act in 1973. At­tempts have since been made to change the pol­icy, in­clud­ing a re­cent pe­ti­tion pre­sented to the Prime Min­is­ter, with­out suc­cess.

Ac­cord­ing to the RCN, the Con­ser­va­tive and Labour par­ties of­fi­cially op­pose the le­gal­i­sa­tion of cannabis for any pur­pose, while the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the Lib­eral Democrats support a law change.

In 2017 the MS So­ci­ety took the po­si­tion that there is enough ev­i­dence to support medic­i­nal use of cannabis to treat pain when other treat­ments have not worked.

A range of polls demon­strate support for change.

In Jan­u­ary, 31 Welsh As­sem­bly Mem­bers sup­ported calls for the Welsh Government to lobby their UK coun­ter­parts to support the use of cannabis for med­i­cal use.

Two voted against and 18 ab­stained.

In Scot­land, in Fe­bru­ary, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive health spokesman Miles Briggs wrote to for­mer UK Home Sec­re­tary Amber Rudd call­ing for a UK-wide re­view of the use of medic­i­nal cannabis.

The pro­posers of yes­ter­day’s res­o­lu­tion said: “The RCN must join these voices and support the com­plete de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of cannabis for medic­i­nal use.”

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