Cannabis (Therapeutic Use)

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 1:59 pm on 12th July 1995.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West 1:59 pm, 12th July 1995

Indeed. It is clear from a wealth of medical evidence that cannabis is not an addictive drug.

I must mention some other cases. I find myself greatly moved by the personal circumstances of many people who have nursed relatives who are terminally ill and the beautiful stories of how radiance came back into their faces after taking cannabis—a radiance absent when they were on conventional drugs. I see also the pain on other faces—of people who bravely say that they are taking cannabis or giving it to relatives. The law says that those people should be thrown into gaol or fined £2,500 and criminalised. There can be no sense in continuing with such nonsense in respect of a mild, benign drug. But that is the law.

One case involved a man who was looking after his 48-year-old wife who was in the prime years of life. He was visited by Customs and Excise, although the matter was not pursued as far as a charge. Another case involved a doctor who prescribed cannabis for her seriously ill daughter. That case went to court. The law is unenforceable. There is not a judge or jury in the country who would dare act against someone behaving in a humanitarian way to their loved ones. The law is stupid and no one can defend it.

The Minister cannot hide behind the nonsense of saying that we need more research, which is his defence. We need more research into every possible aspect of medicinal drugs. There is no drug like cannabis which has had such a trial over the centuries. As we heard from the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) said, who has a background in chemistry, in its natural form it is acceptable and safe.

We know that there are problems. Cannabis should not be given to people suffering from schizophrenia or those who are engaged in driving or other activities which might be affected by the psychoactive parts of the drug. Such circumstances must be taken into account by anyone prescribing it. However, there is overwhelming evidence from thousands of patients that for glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spasm and muscular illnesses cannabis is the only drug that can be used.

The case of chemotherapy has recently come up. Many people taking that terrible treatment suffer from continuous nausea. Conventional medicines do not work, but cannabis has been found to be effective in many cases. Who dares to deny those people that medicine? Many hon. Members in this House would never dream of breaking the law on anything, but any of us would recommend it if our relatives were suffering such nausea and there was no alternative. What do people do now to get the drug? They can only get it on the street or grow it themselves. One brave lady from Cardiff, who is not 100 yards away from me—