A drugs policy expert has said that legalising medical cannabis allows “sick people to get the best medicine for their ailments”, but that the government was not moving fast enough.
New research has suggested that medical cannabis could be used to ease pain, anxiety and sleep disorders in elderly people with neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Currently medical cannabis can only be prescribed by a specialist doctor for patients with illnesses such as rare forms of epilepsy and people with MS-related muscle spasticity.
Martin Powell, Head of Campaigns at Transform Drug Policy Foundation said that the government should go further to legalise cannabis for non-recreational use.
He told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “We understand that you have to regulate these things properly and be really careful with medicine but we would call on the government to really speed that process up to let sick people get the best medicine for their ailments.
"There is some pressure here that you don’t see with other drugs because people – understandably if you are in pain and ill – will be tempted to go out and buy from the criminal market.
“This is why the government should do all it can to speed this up because otherwise the alternative is people will go and buy this product from the criminal market and they won’t know how strong they are.”
The government has continued to stress that it has no intention of legalising cannabis for non-medical use.
'Hands of criminal gangs'
Mr Powell added that legalisation of the drug would allow it to be regulated and “protect young people”.
“You can restrict the kind of places that people can or can’t smoke,” he said.
“Canada legalised cannabis in order to take money from criminals and protect young people.
“It also allows you to regulate the products themselves and you can say how strong those products are and how much of them people can buy.”
Mr Powell described the government as “scared” to legalise cannabis.
He added: “We know people will smoke cannabis. There are only two choices; you leave it in the hands of criminal gangs or the government regulates it.”