The UK's drug laws are preventing scientists from carrying out vital research to unlock our understanding of the brain and find new treatments for conditions such as depression and Parkinson's disease, according to Professor David Nutt, a leading neuroscientist and former government drug adviser. "Things are actually getting worse," said Nutt, referring to the restrictions placed on research.
Liberalised drug laws should be introduced to legalise the widespread use of cannabis to relieve symptoms of certain medical conditions, including the side effects of chemotherapy, the drugs minister Norman Baker will say. Amid concerns that "credible people" are having to break the law to secure the only substance that can help to relieve their condition, Baker is writing to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to call for a review of the medicinal properties of cannabis.
Even though, in 1998, the Home Office granted GW Pharmaceuticals a license to grow cannabis in order to develop cannabinoid-based medicines, Britain is not following suit. Norman Baker, Lib Dem minister of state for crime prevention, called for more liberalised drug laws, and specifically the legalisation of cannabis grown for medicinal use. A coalition spokesman rejected his suggestion outright. And so those seeking cannabis for medicinal purposes must continue to chase it in the same way as recreational users, through the black market.
The vaping trend seemingly knows no bounds as the first “cannabis” e-cigarette goes on sale in the UK. The KanaVape, which contains hemp, has been legalised for use in France by people with cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS) and other conditions requiring pain relief. It will go on sale around the world tomorrow but the Home Office has cast doubt on whether that would be legal, saying the product must be tested for controlled substances. KanaVape cannot be compared to a joint because it does not contain THC, the chemical causing cannabis highs.
Under pressure from the Lib Dems, the Home Office commissioned a report looking at the international evidence on the impact of legislation on drug use. Theresa May, the home secretary, made no secret of the fact that she had no enthusiasm for the project, and when it was published in October, with Baker taking the lead in publicising it, Conservative ministers signalled that they would ignore it. Baker revealed that the original draft had contained policy recommendations that, on May’s orders, had been removed prior to publication.