MP Dismayed by Medicinal Cannabis Delays

July 20, 2004

Matthew Cooper, The Scotsman

A Labour MP today expressed dismay at delays in clearing cannabis for use as a medicine for people suffering from conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
Peter Bradley urged the Government to show compassion by authorising controlled and limited production of the drug for medicinal use despite an on-going assessment of its safety.

The Shropshire MP said those suffering from debilitating conditions should be allowed to use cannabis for pain relief if they have the support of their doctors, even though it has yet to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The MHRA was expected to conclude its review of trials of cannabis as a medicine at the end of last year, but has yet to rule on the issue.

The Wrekin MP has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons and written to Home Office Minister Caroline Flint, arguing that the Government should allow seriously ill patients to make their own decisions as to whether the risk from cannabis might pose a greater threat to their health than the disease from which they suffer.

“The biggest problem for medicinal users of cannabis is not so much risk of arrest, though that is a factor, as the dificulty they have in securing supplies,” Mr Bradley said.

In 2001 the politician highlighted the case of his constituent Kate Bradley – a former drug squad officer with MS who has used cannabis as a medicine since being forced to retire.

Mr Bradley added: “In Kate’s case it’s a particularly bitter irony that, desperately ill though she is, she’s forced to get her supplies on the streets from the kind of people she was locking up when she was fit.

“I’ve urged the minister to exercise a little compassionate discretion so that medicinal cannabis can be made available to people like Kate who are in dire need of it.

“Even though the MHRA may have some remaining concerns about the risks associated with therapeutic cannabis, they are unlikely to be significant and while we wait for it to come to its conclusions, Kate and many, many others are suffering.

“In any case, who are we to stand between people like Kate and the medicine she needs to make her life tolerable?

“The decision whether or not to use cannabis as a medicine ought to be left to those who without it suffer severe symptoms which are not in dispute. They should be allowed to make their own informed choice.”

In a statement issued by her MP, Mrs Bradley pleaded for the Government to act on behalf of thousands of MS sufferers.

“The spasms I suffer are sheer hell. From the soles of my feet all through my body into my brain is a searing, crippling, unholy pain,” she said.

“It is so powerful it can force my body to crunch into a foetal position one moment and switch to plank-like rigidity the next. Only cannabis unlocks them.

“Following this my legs are then attacked by pain akin to that of a blow torch burning my skin off. Cannabis is the only relief from this too.”

Mrs Bradley, from Telford, said she was encouraged that the Government had agreed to legalise medicinal cannabis if its advisers give the go-ahead.

But she added: “The waiting is almost too much to bear. A little compassion is all that I and many others are seeking. We desperately need Peter’s campaign to succeed.”

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