My hon. Friend is right. There have been strict limits on availability. At the time of the meeting it was not available at all.
It is fascinating that pain specialists have pointed out that they are well used to using drugs which have not been formally trialed or even licensed. The gentleman to whom I referred previously said that, with the majority of his patients, only single trials are conducted before a treatment is introduced. If that did not happen, the treatment that he gives in his pain clinic would be stopped in its tracks. He has to continue to use drugs such as amitriptoline, depo-medrone, sodium valproate, clobazam and flecainide which are unlicensed for use in pain relief. If that can be justified, so can the use of cannabis in its present form.
The most persuasive evidence does not come from the great litany of experts and bodies of chemists who want this change and whom I could spend the rest of the afternoon quoting. More persuasive is the evidence of people who are criminals in the eyes of the law, who are listening to us now and whose lives have been affected by cannabis.
One of the most moving articles that I have ever read was by Carol Howard, who is listening to me now, about the death of her daughter Sara, Sara was in her 20s and died of a rare cancer. She was nursed by her mother. She suffered chemotherapy in the final period of her life and her mother writes movingly in a searing document about her. Her mother used cannabis to help that young woman and has told me within the last hour of that fact. She says that cannabis was the only drug that provided any true or lasting relief. However, in the final phase of her illness that young person was filled with heroin and morphine in a form that has a devastating effect on people. If the choice is between morphine, which often turns people in addition to their health problems into zombies and using a drug which allows them to continue to converse and communicate with loved ones into their final hours, why on earth can we not allow people to continue to use it?
There is another lady who uses the drug. She is the mother of two teenage children and finds that the only relief that she can have from multiple sclerosis and its many symptoms is to use cannabis.