By Roland Sebestyén
The first cross-party group, set up by members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs), have had their first meeting to discuss the possible benefits of medical cannabis.
According to STV, the group was created by Labour’s Pauline McNeill and the SNP’s Rona Mackay.
The aim is to understand more about the potential of the plant and raise awareness around how medical cannabis could be useful in the treatment of some conditions where other medications have been ineffective.
Ms McNeill said: “I’m delighted to be working with colleagues from across the Parliament to set up the Cross-Party Group on Medical Cannabis.
“We have met informally in the past and heard from experts and patients who have described the remarkable impact medical cannabis can have in treating a range of conditions.
“It’s an under-researched area, but there’s increasing evidence from across the world indicating medical cannabis can play an important role in treating a host of conditions that do not respond positively to other medicines.
“Some of the personal testimonies we heard in our informal meetings have indicated the exciting potential of these new medicines, so I am delighted to be part of creating this group and hope to raise awareness of these developing treatments.”
Although medical cannabis has been legal throughout the UK since 2018, only a very limited number of patients have so far been able to access the potentially life-changing products on the NHS.
Regardless of the thousands of studies and personal, real-life statements, GPs are still refusing to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients.
According to a recent estimation, there are two million people in the UK who could benefit from medical cannabis, yet only a few thousand have so far been prescribed the products – the majority through private prescriptions. The rest of these patients are forced to access cannabis of questionable quality through black market sources.
The cross-party group in Holyrood wants to look into this practice.
Rona Mackay said: “This is such an important issue, and it’s long overdue that the benefits of medicinal cannabis are explored and researched.
“I hope this group sheds light on evidence and the work being done to progress the use of this treatment, as well as the challenges being faced in its implementation.”