The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has voted overwhelmingly in favor of allowing patients access to medical cannabis in the latest endorsement for the drug’s decriminalization.
Nursing professionals made the decision at their annual powwow in Belfast and will now lobby governments for it to be legalized.
Their move follows the Royal College of Physicians calling on the government to decriminalize all drugs and to move responsibility for drug policy away from the Home Office and to be taken over by the Health Department.
Janet Davies, RCN chief executive, said: “The sorts of conditions we heard about today, the terrible pain that people can be in, if people feel there’s something that will relieve that pain it’s worth a try.”
The RCN said patients were already using the drug and by legalizing cannabis, it would take away from buying the product from “unreputable” dealers.
End Our Pain, a campaign group that advocates the use of medicinal cannabis said the backing of the RCN “adds to the unstoppable momentum for change amongst medical professionals and politicians. The UK Government’s position that cannabis has no medical benefit flies in the face of the growing body of evidence from around the world.”
Figures cited by Clear UK, another campaign group, said legalizing cannabis under a similar model used in the US state of Colorado could produce a net gain to the UK economy of around £6.7 billion per annum and perhaps as high as £9.5 billion pa.
But not everyone thinks legalizing cannabis, even for medical reasons, is as groovy as it sounds. The Royal College of Psychiatrists said it is cautious about decriminalization campaigns, warning that cannabis use increases the risk of developing psychosis, depression, and anxiety.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We recognise that people with chronic pain and debilitating illnesses are looking to alleviate their symptoms. However, it is important that medicines are thoroughly tested to ensure they meet rigorous standards before being placed on the market, so doctors and patients are assured of their efficacy and safety.”
However, the Home Office’s current drugs minister, Victoria Atkins MP, has already come under fire after it came to light her husband’s firm was growing large amounts under license.
British Sugar was last year awarded a Home Office license to grow substantial amounts of cannabis for a for a new epilepsy medicine soon to be approved in the US.
While Atkins wasn’t in her current position when the license was granted, the government’s skeptical attitude towards medicinal cannabis while allowing it to be grown for export has resulted in Clear accusing her of deception.
She has subsequently stopped talking for the government on drug policy.
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