Nurses back medical cannabis move after speech by NI delegate
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.”