23 Jun House of Lords Medicinal Cannabis Debate 23rd June 2015
Firstly, credit and thanks where it is due: Baroness Hamwee, Lord Howarth, Baroness Meacher, Lord Paddick and Lord Ribeiro, champions of evidence, intelligent drugs policy and humane values.
However, some were less helpful. Lord Blencathra, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, dismissed the immense value of cannabis experienced by tens of thousands of other MS patients throughout the world. His suggestion that pharmaceutical drugs notorious for their horrible side effects are a better choice flies in the face of evidence, particularly as one of the principal characteristics of MS is how unique are each individual’s symptoms.
Also, deeply depressing was how even those mentioned who are supportive of our cause are suckered by the ‘skunk’ propaganda. Firstly they don’t even understand what the term means but even if we use the more accurate description of low CBD cannabis, there is no evidence that could justify it being called ‘dangerous’. While it’s not to be recommended, even in young people, even with regular and heavy use, the proportion who are at risk of any significant harm is tiny. Many common childhood medicines, energy drinks and of course other substances such as alcohol present far, far greater risks.
Overall though this debate was turgid, boring (even for one who is dedicated to the subject) and revealed some dreadful ignorance and misunderstanding, even by those who I have praised for their overall contribution.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) is “not constituted to advise on the medicinal benefits of any drug” – a direct quote from Professor Les Iversen, chair of the council, yet it was constantly referred to as having given advice on the subject. It never has and never will.
House of Lords – EXTRACT
Tuesday 23 June 2015 Meeting started at 2.30pm, ended 10.26pm
Successive governments have long used the ACMD’s advice as an excuse for inaction or maintaining the status quo. They have also decided on the whim of ministers when to ignore its advice. This is nothing less than a running deception. I shall be writing directly to Lord Bates, the government spokesman in the debate, to ask him to correct his error.
It was fantastic to see this issue discussed in real depth in Parliament. Although Lord Bates dutifully batted away every question or suggestion, be in no doubt – our message is getting through!