By Roland Sebestyén
The former Conservative Under Secretary for the Department of Health claims “Britain is wasting a chance to lead on medical cannabis” and the government should consider changing its cannabis policy.
In an opinion piece published in The Times today, Conservative MP Dan Poulter, a practising NHS doctor, wrote that the drug has a lot of medical benefits – including the treatment of chronic pain, reduction of nausea for patients undergoing chemotherapy, and as a therapy for poor sleep and anxiety disorders.
He added the UK’s drug policy is “hopelessly out of date,” as it’s still governed by the infamous 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.
Dr Poulter wrote: “The law views cannabis as a “street drug”. This is holding back British research and we are falling behind other countries.
“In Germany, the medicinal cannabis market is worth €200 million. In five years, it is predicted that figure will rise to more than €3 billion.”
Dr Poulter, who recently became a non-executive director of Kanabo, is reminding the readership that an open medical cannabis market in the UK would create jobs and raise tax revenues.
Also, while the country’s market is about to reach £1 billion in value by 2024, “with the right regulatory framework, it could be greater.”
As a priority, he called the government to take the regulation of cannabis medicines and CBD products away from the Home Office and into the health department – he became the latest influential figure who believes cannabis should be handled as a health issue in the UK.
Dr Poulter ends his article by saying: “All GPs should be given a free hand to prescribe cannabis medicines. At present, only doctors on the specialist register can do so. And cannabis should be reclassified.
“Under misuse of drugs regulations, medical cannabis-based products are Schedule 2 drugs with high potential for abuse, like heroin. This makes cannabis medicines very difficult to prescribe. They should be reclassified on the level of Valium: as Schedule 4 drugs subject to minimal control.
“If we are serious about making a success of Brexit, it’s time to start cutting regulations. The medicinal cannabis industry in the UK could be one of the next Great British success stories.”
This opinion piece comes only a week after the former First Secretary of State, Leader of the House and current life peer in the House of Lords William Hague called on the Tory government to change its approach to the drugs that could help people treat some of the most severe health conditions.
While he was once in favour of a “zero-tolerance” policy when top politicians, including Boris Johnson and Barack Obama, admit past drug use, his opinion has since altered.
Lord Hague has acknowledged that public attitudes have changed, meaning that “recreational drug use is no longer unmentionable.” He has now expressed his support for the decriminalisation of cannabis.